Red Sneaker Effect

🤔 Did you know…

Kim Kardashian started as Paris Hilton’s personal assistant?

Today her net worth tops $1.7 billion. Yep, billion.

Kim-K understood one thing when it comes to building an un-ignorable brand—you can stand out (and get ahead) by breaking the rules.

Today’s newsletter might spark your next big, *unconventional* marketing move. That’s if you’re brave enough…

This issue is sponsored by Ignite Digital ❤️

Imagine this…

You’re at a networking event…

It’s a sea of cocktail dresses, suits, and shiny shoes.

A symphony of fake laughter, overbearing smiles, and surface-level chat.

Is there anything worse than ‘networking’?

You’re scanning the room when a glass clinks.

“Welcome everyone. I want to introduce this evenings’ guest speaker and tech founder, Will.”

Will walks up to the podium.

He’s sporting a gray hoodie, jeans, and sneakers.

Honestly? He looks like he just crawled out of bed.

You’re secretly judging Will’s ratty attire when you overhear the woman next to you whisper to her friend, “I heard Will just sold his company to Amazon for $200 million.”

Wow. You didn’t realize Will was such a successful entrepreneur.

No wonder the crowd is hanging on his every word.

Why has dressing down suddenly made Will’s social status go up?

In today’s edition of Why We Buy 🧠 we’ll explore the Red Sneaker Effect—why breaking established social conventions signals higher status.

Let’s get into it.

The Psychology of the Red Sneaker Effect 🧠

Why do tech billionaires look more like hobos than tech-powered entrepreneurs?

In 2016, Harvard professor Francesca Gino conducted a study during an academic conference.

She noted how each participant dressed and then she dug into how many publications each had under their belt.

Plot twist? The worse they dressed, the more of a big-wig they were in the academic world.

According to Gino, only high-flyers would dare to break the mould because they had the credentials to back it up.

You see there are unspoken rules of the world. Waiting your turn in the queue, saying ‘thank you’, and dressing appropriately—they are the rules we follow because, well… everybody else does.

But some people can afford to break those rules and climb the social ladder in the process.

People like Lady Gaga, in her infamous meat dress, or Kim Kardashian can make a statement by breaking conventions.

Before you rush out hire a seamstress to design your own crazy all-black get-up, be warned:

The Red Sneaker Effect works best when you already have kloat with an audience.

If you’re new on the scene and relatively unknown, it could blow up in your face.

Inside Your Buyer’s Mind🧐

Buyers want to buy from brands (and people) they trust.

One way to differentiate is to break conventional norms.

Zig while others zag.

If you’re struggling to get noticed and find yourself subscribing to the way everyone else is doing things, consider shaking things up by taking the rule book and throwing it out the window.

Sometimes, daring to be different can lead to explosive results.

How To Apply This 🤑

Alright, so how can we apply this right now to sell more?


Make your values your marketing material

In this consumer-heavy, 100mph world, a brands’ values can be its golden ticket.

Sometimes the very reason a brand exists is to change the world. If that’s the case, lean in and show your values. In fact, make it your entire marketing campaign.

Patagonia does with their ‘don’t buy this jacket’ ad. They catch attention with the headline and then go on to explain their stance on sustainability.

Can you think of anything *more* unconventional than a marketing campaign that says ‘don’t buy this’?

And it worked, sales were up 30%.

Media & Education

Use traditional ‘sales’ days to stand out

Yesterday I reminded you that the regular price of our Clarity Call Cheatsheets was going up.

We ran a Cyber Monday “Un-sale”. Yep, you read that right, an un-sale. Is that a thing? Well… we made it one.

Why increase the price when everyone was slashing them? Because as experienced marketers who know our audience and with able credibility in the field, the Cyber Monday “un-sale” was our red sneaker.

And it worked. We got lotsa praise on this clever campaign and did $26,227.22 in sales without offering a discount.


Revive old trends to capture attention

Remember when flip-phones were so last year?

Well, Samsung decided to throw it back to 1996 and introduce a flip-phone as their *new* product. When competition is hotter than ever, brands can stand out by making the old, new.

Using words like ‘Retro’ (which is just another way of saying ‘we used to do this, and now we’re bringing it back’) Samsung makes noise (and credibility).

The result? Samsungs’ sales skyrocketed, exceeding their projections. 

Service Businesses

Find ordinary opportunities to be *extraordinary*

Service businesses are often boring–but they don’t have to be.

With a little innovation and a dash of bravery (it takes courage to be different), service-businesses can stand out and capture the market.

For instance, what does every waste removal service do? They slap their logo on the side of their white van and give their customers a number to call.

Nick and Dan did something different, they use humor and a little creativity to make people look twice.

Embrace delegation

“One ring to remove it all” you’ve gotta admit that’s good.

The Short of It 💥

In a crowded market, doing things differently gives you kudos.

As marketers it’s your job to find your own red sneaker.

Ask yourself: what is the market doing and how can I go against that?

Until next time, happy selling.

🐦 Your Brainy Tweetable

When credible people break social norms they improve their social status.

It’s called the Red Sneaker Effect.

•Billionaire Zuck wears a gray hoodie
•Kimmy-K all black get up

Brands can do this – assess the market & go against the grain.

Tweet this now >



Wanna really get inside your buyer’s head?

When you’re ready, there are a few ways we can help:

Written By Katelyn

Katelyn Bourgoin is the CEO of Customer Camp, a 4X founder, and a cheese lover. She lives by a simple mantra: whoever gets closer to the customer wins.

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Wanna get inside your buyer’s head? Join our newsletter and get one buyer psychology tip delivered to your inbox each week. It’s like a 2-min workout for your brain.

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You're in!