Marketing & Branding

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

I love shoes. While I’m no shoe connoisseur, 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.