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Social influence & marketing: the Hush Puppies story

Published on June 30, 2016 Originally recorded 2013   6 min
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Hush Puppies were introduced in the American marketplace in
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1958 and it's an interesting story. This was a time when there was no casual shoe industry. People wore their classical shoes and when they got old, they replaced them with a new pair. However, many people continued to wear their old shoes when they had to do various tasks around the house. Hush Puppies appeared on the scene and became very successful. This was a success that lasted for many years. However, by the early 1990s, it appeared as if the success had run its course. No one was buying shoes any more. They were considered as rather uncool and there were a variety of competitors that had entered the scene by that time. So basically, the company decided to eliminate the Hush Puppies line. However, a funny thing happened before they were able to do so. As if overnight, the shoes became enormously successful again. So what happened?
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The newfound success of Hush Puppies apparently had nothing to do with any formal marketing efforts. Rather, the revitalization has been traced to a handful of teens who just so happened to be shopping in some second-hand clothing stores in some of the hipper neighborhoods of New York City. They came upon the shoes and no doubt thought, "Wow, look at these shoes. They're so unhip. If we wear them, then they will become cool." That in essence is what happened. They wore the shoes as they hung out on the streets of New York or frequented various clubs or concerts, and they were noticed. A fashion designer, John Bartlett, observed the teens wearing the shoes and decided to use them as accessories for his next spring collection. Haute couture designer, Anna Sui, used the shoes for her next fashion show. Roughly around that time, the singer Harry Connick Jr. appeared on a late night TV talk show wearing the shoes. And as you can see, by 1995, sales of the shoes had jumped to 430,000 pairs sold nationwide. By 1996, nearly two million pairs have been sold. And by 2004, Hush Puppies were now available in every shopping mall in the country. It was roughly around that time that the company was clearly exploiting a good thing. They added a variety of new lines for both men and women as well as children, and they upgraded their well-known Hush Puppies logo.
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Social influence & marketing: the Hush Puppies story

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