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How Converse Gets All of My Money for Chuck Taylor All-Stars

I love shoes. While I’m no Imelda Marcos, I do have approximately 100 pairs hanging out in my closet. Of those 100 pairs, 42 of them are Converse’s Chuck Taylor All-Stars.

Yes, 42.  That means if I wear a different pair of Converse shoes every day, I can go without repeating for 6 entire weeks. I’m addicted to being addicted, but as a woman that buys generic FOOD, the fact I will accept no substitutes for Chuck Taylors has me wondering.

Even if your brand doesn’t have 100 years of awesome behind its name, there’s no reason you can’t snag some helpful hints.

Style.

I love the simple, characteristic style of the Chuck Taylor All-Stars. The chunky, white sole; the bold stitching; and the two grommets on the inside arch: simple design features that are practically universally recognized.

Besides the copyright issue, your products must easily be distinguished from the competitions’… unless you’re cool with low brand loyalty. Check out Graham Smith’s ongoing brand reversioning project: even with the change, you still can tell whose logo is whose.

Durability.

My Chucks have lasted forever, and this was even before I had 42 pairs to rotate through. My first pair that I purchased in the summer of 2007 lasted me even past the four months I hardcore romped around Europe. Not many sneakers can endure a voyage through seven countries, miles of walking, and more cobblestones than I’d like to remember.

A single transaction should have a long shelf life. Nobody wants to invest in something that will break or rip in a ridiculously short amount of time, and nobody will purchase a website design that becomes obsolete in two months.

Can you spot a special someone in this picture?

There are more than 500 different varieties of Chucks!

Options.

Even now on the Converse website, there are over 500 different styles of All-Stars. Add this to the years of past styles, and there have been thousands of unique All-Star shoes. Still not a fan? There’s a section on Converse’s website where you can create a custom pair of Chucks.

I’m not saying that you should have thousands of products to offer. I know that’s reserved for big corporations. But consumers love options. What’s the point of comparison shopping if there’s nothing to compare? Multiple options keep consumers comparing within your brand instead of comparing your single product or service to a competitor.

Heart.

In 2006, Converse partnered with (RED) in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Fifteen percent of any shoe in their (RED) line goes directly to the Global Fund. I love that my favorite shoe supports a global cause.

And I’m not alone: consumers respond positively to companies that support causes. An overwhelming 83% have better opinions about companies that do! A better opinion brings more traffic and sales.

I know that someone is going to say, “But Mandy! Converse filed for bankruptcy in 2001! We shouldn’t model our company after them!” And no, you shouldn’t copy their management style. Converse made some really dumb business moves and changed management way too often in the late nineties.

But the brand name of Converse and its All-Stars remained.  It’s such a strong brand and symbol of American culture that nobody wanted to see it fall to the wayside.  When Nike bought Converse back in 2003, they explicitly said that they wanted to pair strong non-Nike brands with good Nike management.

What I’m saying is: model Converse’s brand. Build a reputation based on style, strength, choice, and consideration: those are traits that will appeal to consumers and start building your company image. Heck, maybe someday I’ll have 42 of your products sitting in my closet.

Are there any other brands you admire? What qualities do you look for when determining brand loyalty?



Mandy Kilinskis

Mandy is proud to be a part of QLP’s content team. A self-professed nerd, her interests include video games, sitcoms, superhero movies, iPods and iPhones but never Macs, and shockingly, writing. Her claims to fame are: owning over forty pairs of Chuck Taylor All Stars, offering spot-on coffee advice, and knowing an unbelievable amount of Disney Princess facts. You can connect with Mandy on

Comments

  1. The Spoon

    Been rockin Chucks since I was 7 :) They look great regardless of the attire :)

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      It’s so true. It’s hard to find an outfit that doesn’t look awesome with Chucks!

  2. Cybernetic SAM

    OOOOOOOOOOO!!!! I totally love this post! I have been wearing Chucks since a was a wee lass. I HATE tennis-shoes and I refused to wear them growing up. My mom bought me one pair and only one pair, after that it was Chucks and only Chucks. Upon reflection I remember wearing them growing up and thinking to myself: I wonder why more people don’t wear these? And then BAM! They were a fad, I almost regret thinking that I loved when I only had to $10-15 for a pair, now you are lucky to find knock offs for that price! Even though I love them still and ALWAYS will I usually only own about 2-3 pairs at a time (due to their price), and I wear the CRAP out of them. After all, that is kind of what they were meant for! I hate when people buy Chucks with the mentality that they can’t get them dirty…. PEOPLE, they are meant to get DIRTY!!! :) Anyway, as you can tell I am a fan of the Chucks. Come HI or LOW top I will always want and love them!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Too true, Sam! They are totally meant to get dirty. It’s easy to tell which of my Chucks I’ve owned the longest based on how dirty they look.

      Looks like I hit the right brand advocate! I, too, will always wear them. I always note when people in their 70s or 80s wear them – they’re awesome for sticking with a show that long!

  3. amy

    Great post Mandy! I love the look of Chucks and I know I should just bite the bullet and buy a pair despite their price. I have an old pair of knock-off ones from Target that I’ve worn nearly all the way through. Like Sam said, they’re meant to be worn!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Knock offs from Target are better than no Chucks at all – at one point I owned the brown knock offs and I think I still have the pinstriped pair, too. I don’t think I’ll give up the pinstriped ones until Converse makes a pair of their own.

  4. Joseph Giorgi

    “…style, strength, choice, and consideration…”

    Nicely put! The All-Star design remains iconic to this very day because Converse had the good sense to adhere (pretty much) to that strategy. To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of Chuck Taylors (they’re a little too thin for my liking; I need more cushioning), but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate them. Visually, Chucks are about as recognizable as shoes get, and there’s something to be said for that. Converse did its job well, that’s for sure.

    Awesome blog, Mandy! :D

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      I already know your crushing un-love of Chucks, but I’m glad that you can still appreciate them! They did do an awesome job of brand recognition. Even when movies use knock offs, you can always tell what shoe they meant!

  5. LK

    I love this post!!!

    My dad has always called me Imelda and I never really knew what it meant, now I finally do! I completely agree with all your points on why Chuck Taylor All Stars have earned so much of your closet space. I have that same mentality when it comes to buying shoes. You’re feet don’t really grow that often so as long as the shoe is durable (and you don’t have a Cinderella moment and lose just ONE shoe) your shoes can last a long long time. So why not spend the money?!

    P.S. I was wondering if all these shoes were yours in the pictures, then I saw Bubba and KNEW. I really think you should buy a mini pair of Chuck Taylors for our friend Bubba.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      That’s totally how I feel, Lauren! Since my feet are done growing, I figure that I might as well make multiple investments for them. I actually haven’t bought shoes in quite a while, but I still have more than enough to have options and not get bored with my selection.

      As for buying them, I don’t know if they come that small. I might Sharpie him some, though!

  6. Jill Tooley

    I’ve never owned a pair of Chucks. ::waves white flag::

    I like the way they look in the stores, but not on me. I’m already self-conscious about my feet and for some reason Chucks make me feel like I’m wearing clown shoes. I guess I’ve never been a high-top kind of girl! However, I admire your collection (shoes are also a passion of mine, even though many of them are only worn on special occasions) and it’s amazing that there are so many varieties. There’s a pair of Converse for everyone! Is your favorite pair in the picture? I’m curious which ones you favor over the others.

    Thanks for sharing your brand loyalty with us – there are some valuable tips here! :)

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      No worries, Jill. I didn’t start wearing Chucks until college because of the same reason! But then I discovered the beauty of low tops and as you can see, that’s what my entire collection is.

      I have one shoe of every pair I own in that picture (84 single shoes were just not small enough to photograph), but my favorites are: black with rainbow hearts, royal blue, classic black, neon pink slip ons, comic panels, purple… I just realized that this is like asking which child is my favorite. I like all my plaid ones and the pair with cupcakes on them, too. :/

  7. Rachel

    Great post, Mandy! I can definitely attest to your high brand loyalty to Converse. :)

    Also, I really like this point: “Multiple options keep consumers comparing within your brand instead of comparing your single product or service to a competitor.” Another company I can think of that does this is IKEA; you can pretty much furnish and decorate your entire house with just one brand, and with all the options they provide for each type of product (I was overwhelmed by my bookcase choices when I went shopping there recently), loyal customers don’t really need to look elsewhere to satisfy all their home decorating needs. It’s a smart business strategy, for sure.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      You make a fantastic point about IKEA. You can decorate every single room in your house with IKEA and unless all of your friends memorize the IKEA catalog, it will look like you went to lots of different stores. Their selection is overwhelming — I still call the giant one near my house the “IKEA museum.”

  8. Michelle

    Wonderful post, Mandy! Brand loyalty is so important. I agree with all of your points, they are equally as important as the next. A good portion of my shoe collection goes to Steve Madden. Steve knows the way to my heart! :)

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Oh, Steve. He’s going to be my next shoe addiction, I fear. His flats and pumps are just too cute, though. And they last a really long time, too!

  9. Kyle

    42 pairs in 4 years? Holy s***!! That’s like… practically a new pair every month. o_O

    And here I was feeling guilty when I dropped some bucks on my latest pair of Nikes when I hadn’t had a new pair in over a year… That’s some serious brand loyalty, Mandy!

    Oh, and I almost didn’t catch Bubba hiding in the second picture. Can never have too many Bubba cameos. =)

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      I know. And the scary fact is that I haven’t purchased a single pair in 2011 (and I drive past the Converse outlet store every day! Talk about self-restraint!), and I didn’t start until a bit into 2008. So that’s actually like 3 pairs every 2 months.

      So, hey, at least you can feel less guilty about your Nikes?!

      And Bubba couldn’t resist jumping on top of Mt. Chuck Taylor.

  10. Amanda

    Great post Mandy! I had a pair of high top chucks in 3rd grade, and I loved them. I’m not sure why, but that was my only pair. I’d like to get a pair of the cute ones (glitter!!! sequins!!!) sometime…they’re so pretty and so classic looking! Your collection is impressive. And I agree, it is a great thing to spend money on. You won’t outgrow them, and by having so many, they’ll last even longer. =)

  11. Lauren G.

    Yes! This post is awesomeness! Converse, throughout its whole existence, has built itself an awesome brand and products! I bought my first and only pair (yes, one pair) in seventh grade…I’m 25. They still have the mismatched shoelaces I put on them! They’re old fashioned black high tops, size 5 1/2 (boys size, because I have little feet.) At that time, I saw them in the movie, “The Sandlot” a million times! I wanted the all black pair, but they couldn’t be found. I went to, I believe, 5-6 stores before I found them. They were in the boys’ section because I guess girls didn’t wear them :p. I had to buy boys shoes, that’s how desperately I wanted them! Best 25$ I’ve spent! When those are in the dust, I’ll buy another pair. I’ve worn them to just about every special occasion. They’re my “lucky” shoes. Converse is a good company that knows how to market towards the good ole’ fashion of Americans. It’s definately a staple piece in pop culture.

  12. Jen

    Sweet Post Mandy. I have also never had a pair of Chucks, but I have been so tempted to buy them soooo many times. But I agree with Joe, they are to slim for me. But they are so cute :)

    I also have a brand I’m loyal to, Old Navy Flip Flops! They are so comfortable. I just can’t find other flip flop that fit they way Old Navy’s do. I have a pair in every color, and it really helps that they are so cheap. I will be loyal to them forever!!!

    • Amanda

      Same here Jen! I love Old Navy flip flops….and have them in several different colors. Most other brands I’ve tried have given me blisters. I am also very in love with their clothes. They’re classic and very fairly priced which is my style fo sho. Way to rock hard Old Navy! =)

  13. Jenna

    I own one pair of Chuck Taylors, and 2 pairs of knock-offs. It’s true that Converse are durable — I’ve had the same pair since I was in high school. However, the knock-offs seem to wear out after a few months. So even though the real Chucks may be a little steeper in price, it all evens out when you consider that you probably would have had to buy at least 5 pairs of knock-offs to last the same amount of time! :)

  14. tami

    You bought me my first pair of Converse shoes for my birthday last year! :) Great article Mandy.
    Now I’m thinking I need to go add a new pair to my collection, though I’ll never be able to top 42 pairs – quite a feat!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Hey, Tami! Thanks for stopping by the blog and commenting!

      42 pairs might be overkill, but there’s nothing wrong with two. Selection and color are wonderful things. :)

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