The Marketing Mix and Strategy of TOMS, Zappos, and Payless Footwear Companies
A company’s marketing mix and marketing strategy provide a foundation and driving force for its future growth. Zappos, Payless, and TOMS’ shoe manufacturers are the leading innovative and most entrepreneurial companies that act uniquely to lure and convince customers to buy their products. Business in the firms does not focus solely on making instant profits but on giving customers an alternative experience that guarantees satisfaction above other objectives. Payless leads in price differentiation, which provides the company with a range of customers from both high-income and low-income earners. The company has employed several responsive marketing mix and strategies differently across its customer base. On the other hand, Zappos’ need for high customer satisfaction has led the company to employ extreme strategies including surpassing its reach to ensure customers enjoy its products. The firm has put in place a reliable marketing mix and product strategy that processes its potential growth. Similarly, TOMS’ unique shoe donation strategy has exposed it to potential future growth. The company’s incorporation of a precise marketing mix makes it as competitive as the other firms. The marketing mix and strategies of TOMS, Zappos, and Payless footwear companies provide in-depth insight into the most poised firm that will achieve long-term growth.
Zappos Company was founded to provide a unique customer experience through quality service. The creation of an explorative shoe selection experience became the firm’s primary strategy in the already congested market. The company focuses on its selection experience, multiple options for the customers, and free delivery as the prime strategies to reach many potential customers (Marks, Lee, & Hoyt, 2011). As such, Zappos created a franchising marketing strategy that relies on the perspectival experience of customers to its products. Moreover, the company’s pricing system has often been ridiculed, but it remains relevant in the market because of its shoe selection experience.
Zappos created a marketing strategy based on its renowned shopping experience. The strategy is embedded on other marketing philosophies like “Wow!” and prioritizes customer service as a way of attracting them. Often, customers have referred to the company as a “service company that sells shoes.” The phrase shows the precision in customer command that would make them overlook other factors such as pricing to focus on the service they receive (Marks et al., 2011). The company emphasizes the value of service presumable by new customers. Thus, through its management, the company terms the customers’ shopping experience as a service delivery secret that captures clients above any other feature and strategy.
The company’s drive for client satisfaction under its “Wow!” experience informs the aspect of referral marketing through testimonial purchasing. The company has an interactive website that replicates its quality customer experience from the shops to its online platform, whereby clients order products online and the staff contacts them to ensure they complete their purchases fast (Marks et al., 2011). Also, the company operates a toll-free call line to ensure potential customers make rapid calls at any time to inquire about existing products. The strategy builds the customers’ confidence and reliance because they can place free calls to the company at any time. As a result, the marketing approach has almost doubled the company’s orders made over the phone. Likewise, the company has taken advantage of the social interaction to follow up on potential customers who comment on their products without completing purchases thus convincing them to buy.
Furthermore, Zappos uses the “fit and return” marketing policy to lure people who are indifferent about online and shop purchases. The philosophy, similar to the “Wow!” approach, allows people to fit shoes from the comfort of their houses or workplace. Due to time constraint or work, people can make orders, have the shoes delivered, and fit them with the surety of replacement by the same delivery agent (Marks et al., 2011). The strategy shows the company’s effort in promoting and selling convenience to potential customers. As such, it purposes the high drive of new clients to the company regardless of its pricing, which is the most used marketing tool by other firms.
In addition, Zappos has invested heavily in digital marketing platforms to capture the millennial market. “The millennials do not just embrace technology, it’s a way of life.” (Armstrong, 2017). The firm uses its social media to provide sufficient information to allow millennials to make purchase decisions (Marks et al., 2011). The company aims to provide essential and adequate information, which includes real pictures of the advertised product and unedited comments from other clients. New buyers can review the information and comments and decide whether to buy a shoe from Zappos. The position gives Zappos a unique approach to potential customers above its competitors. The company focuses entirely on the customers’ experience and service delivery as the right marketing tools. Thus, every action undertaken by the firm revolves around improving customer satisfaction and experience.
On the other hand, Payless Company’s marketing strategy revolves around its pricing and product line techniques. The company draws customers by changing its prices to expand its market. The marketing team develops an all-inclusive market niche that comprises basic and luxury wears that fit the firm’s customer bracket. Thus, the company enjoys a compost consumer focus that is unlimited to price and quality. Moreover, Payless employs philosophical marketing termed “luxury is hard to discern” to drive its market popularity. The firm derived the philosophy from a prank on its customers and developed it as a marketing strategy built on the logic of consumer behavior. The organization has managed to blend the approach with a perceptual quality view that distinguishes luxury reality from consumption fictions. Unlike its competitors Zappos and TOMS, Payless takes a contradictory but affirmative move to awaken its customers from the social cues of luxury as opposed to its real value evidenced in prices. The interpretation of the strategy is that consumer perception determines the price, which should be a real measure of quality. As such, the company invests in the impressive packaging of shoes to influence the consumers’ purchasing decisions (Armstrong, 2017). The new impression is visible on its platforms and shops for potential customers. Besides, the firm has a favorable set of prices to match the attractiveness of its products. With a price cup of below $40 for most shoes, the firm markets its products on perceptual affordability. The strategy helps the company to influence consumers to discern the luxury notion for affordable shoes that appear luxurious but also comfortable in price. Therefore, whereas TOMS and Zappos focus on social responsibility marketing and customer service, respectively, Payless markets its products with an impression of luxury and price match.
Furthermore, Payless uses differential pricing as a marketing strategy, often referred to as the “pay as you can,” which allows customers to buy shoes at different prices based on their purchasing power. The price discrimination opens up the firm to many customers hence developing a wider base (Armstrong, 2017). Also, the firm has incorporated a broader product line to match the differential pricing. The discussion followed many downfalls that were often associated with unethical pricing, whereby the firm sold similar products variedly against the production cost. However, the introduction of the product line helped the company to replicate price variance into product variance by producing shoes that not only vary in price but also in production quality. The strategy has allowed the company to attract customers across all market niches considering that every segment has a unique quality requirement. The approach differs from TOMS’ and Zappos’ social responsibility marketing and quality service, respectively.
TOMS Company presents an excellent marketing strategy that does not compare to Zappos’ and Payless’ approach. The firm practices a cause marketing strategy often referred to as the “Social Responsibility marketing,” which ties the company to social promotion as a way of advertising its products. The strategy gives the firm a corporate role to mutual benefit between it and the market (Hopkins, 2015). The approach rewards the company with a positive relation and social marketing above its competitors. TOMS generate a large market following above its competitors by donating one pair of shoes for every pair purchased. The model ties the market to the company through social apathy and gratitude for the donations to potential customers who cannot afford a pair of shoes. Therefore, the social market feels obligated to buy from TOMS to contribute to the social development of the society.
TOMS is the only company among the three that has a passionate social responsibility. According to (Armstrong, 2017),“enlightened companies encourage their managers to look beyond what the regulatory system allows and simply do what is right.” The firm has expanded its social marketing to a promotional campaign that triggers its sales effectively. The company recently moved from the “one for one” marketing model to “one day without shoe” as a sustainability measure in its marketing. The move opens up the company to more potential customers who would like to make contributory purchases through the products (Bloomberg, 2009). The strategy allows customers to make donations to the less fortunate by buying shoes from the company. As such, the marketing strategy has proven effective above the company’s competitors. While Payless and Zappos struggle with customer loyalty, TOMS has generated a resilient customer loyalty based on social responsibility. Therefore, TOMS’s customers are willing to buy from the company repeatedly even if not within their need, unlike in the case of Payless and Zappos.
Moreover, TOMS employ a “storytelling marketing strategy” that has proved effective over that of its competitors. The company employs social motivation by using product brands to create stories that appeal to the market. The stories sell the brand through familiarity and conformity to market situations, concerns, and other themes per time. The storytelling marketing strategies provide customers with an opportunity to reflect their views in TOMS’ shows that “people use products, brands, and services as means of self-expression and they buy the products that match views of themselves.” (Armstrong, 2017). For instance, the company used TOMS’ unlaced rubber brand to tell the unfortunate story of the socio-economically disadvantaged children across the developing world (Hopkins, 2015). The company used social media and blogs to market the stories on charitable trips that catapulted its sales. The emotional appeal of the company creates unforgettable memories among potential customers who purchase its products even if not for personal use. Therefore, TOMS’ socially-driven marketing strategy has proven beneficial to its growth and futuristic relevance than that of its competitors.
Zappos’ “Wow!” marketing philosophy has proven relevant and deterministic on its marketing mix that allows it to embrace the four Ps (products, price, place, promotion) of growth. The firm’s products, pricing, place, and promotions are founded on its customer relations’ experience thus enhance its growth and future sustainability. The precedence of the marketing mix is set by the firm’s product that promotes its current and future growth (Marks et al., 2011). Zappos has developed a profitable blend of products and services, which creates the pleasurable customer experience that drives the company. The firm is consistent in product availability and development under sacrifice and gratitude to customers. Also, the enterprise has expanded its product line to include shoes complements such as belts, clothes, handbags, and other accessories to expand the customers’ purchasing buckets. The plan has not only expanded its production but also attracted more customers.
Zappos practices a flexible pricing model that fits the competitive Chinese market. The firm has ensured a competitive price in the market alongside serving customers with quality products. Zappos has shifted from the traditional fixed rate to flexible pricing that allows promotions and cash back among other factors. In addition, the pricing method is advantageous in China, which is the central marketplace for the firm’s products (Marks et al., 2011). Massive industrialization in China has enabled the company to access raw materials and rely on it as the distribution center. Moreover, increased globalization has led Zappos to use the online platform to reach other places such as Asia, Indian, Africa, and other world markets. Concisely, Zappos has the largest online shoe market in the region. The growth is realized by the firm’s intensive promotion and communication that has enhanced sales. A large online shoe company has enabled the enterprise to introduce referral promotions, rewards for repeat purchases, and discounts that give it high performance and following. However, the company is currently facing a strong market diversity that is negatively affecting its market growth, which does not exclude its competitors. “marketers now face increasingly diverse markets, both at home and abroad.” (Armstrong, 2017). The book attributes the new market diversity to a newly internationalized business operation. Thus, the company’s market mix gives it a considerable advantage in the ever increasingly competitive market.
On the other hand, Payless is known for its controversial pricing and product elements of the marketing mix. The company utilizes an exponential pricing technique (price segmentation and discrimination across products and places) that affects its revenue, growth, and sustainability significantly. Its current pricing technique applies differential prices for most products to accommodate its unifying approach to the market. With a price range of $25 to $40, the firm has managed to accommodate and attract more customers. Also, the company uses psychological and referencing prices to reach more potential customers and expand its revenue. However, this pricing technique competes with the firm’s product line (Armstrong, 2017). The company has increased the brands of shoes such as Dexter, Champion, and Airwalk to accommodate its vast market. Besides, the company seems to imitate its competitors like Zappos by introducing shoe complements to the product line to attract and capture more consumers and increase revenue opportunities. Thus, the two elements of the marketing mix, product and pricing, have placed Payless on profitable gestures.
In addition, Payless has a positive growth of its place and promotion elements of the marketing mix. The company has over 40 global representation and gestures growth in revenue and customer reach. The distribution strategy promotes an increase in production as a mitigation measure against operational failure caused by previous low market positioning. Moreover, the firm has boosted its operations through an online market that allows it to reach places that lack physical stores. The company aims to use the internet as a marketing tool to recapture the market. “Marketers have hailed the internet and social media as the great new way to engage customers and nurture customer relationship.” (Armstrong, 2017). The growth is also attributed to promotions through bonuses, vouchers, and discounts. Online marketing attracts more customers through advertisements (Armstrong, 2017). Moreover, social communication has helped the company to advertise, promote new brands, and reach more customers. Therefore, the company foresees increased growth due to its current flexible pricing technique, online stores, promotions, and expanded product line. However, the company suffers from economic shocks caused by previous bankruptcy and failure, thereby rendering its competition inconsequential to its competitors, TOMS and Zappos.
TOMS utilize a reliable marketing mix that propels its growth and future competition. The idea that TOMS should add another value to its current social marketing strategy to remain profitable and operational in the market introduces the debate on the company’s pricing element of the marketing mix (Armstrong, Kotler, & Opresnik, 2017). The firm’s current prices center on affordability by taking into consideration its target market. However, the company is rescued by customer appreciation for the product quality and donations that allow it to produce more at a reduced cost due to economies of scale. As such, TOMS’ current pricing technique remains beneficial provided it practices its social responsibility (Bloomberg, 2009). In addition, the firm’s product enjoys global reception due to its social responsibility marketing technique. The company’s brands of sneakers and rubber shoes fit as outfit walks and basic footwear for the underprivileged beneficiaries in the developing nations. The social affiliation has built a strong recognition for TOMS’ shoes that allows it to penetrate markets across the globe. Also, TOMS is a global brand that sells other brands and products. Therefore, the company’s pricing and product identity give it an advantage for future growth against its competitors.
Furthermore, TOMS enjoy a place and promotional relation across the market. The firm’s shoes are present in almost every shoe market across the globe including distribution by online retailers such as Schuh and Amazon. Also, the company enjoys the third-party retailoring that use the brand to promote other social responsibilities. The factors create unlimited markets for TOMS’ shoes, an opportunity that its competitors lack. Moreover, TOMS use the promotion to create extraordinary value for its products (Bloomberg, 2009). TOMS advertise its products through social stories and life-changing instances as an extension of its social responsibility promotion. In addition, the company has an aggressive social media promotion that is yet to receive any credible competition. Thus, the company enjoys unprecedented dominance in the market.
TOMS is a superior brand above its competitors Zappos and Payless. Payless employs price and product differentiations to market its products. With a wide price range of $25 to $40, the company offers a more extensive market bracket to attract many consumers. On the other hand, Zappos relies on outstanding customer experience through exaggerated services to give them a reason for buy from the company. The strategies have resulted in the growth of the two companies on uneven measure. Also, the two firms have enjoyed an almost similar marketing mix over the years that may not cause any substantial changes in the future. The position is evident in Payless’ previous bankruptcy records and Zappos’ diminishing online market share that it previously dominated. On the contrary, TOMS employ a social responsibility marketing that conceptualizes the brand on the customers’ mind (Armstrong, Kotler, & Opresnik, 2017). Moreover, TOMS’ marketing mix emphasizes social identity hence allowing the company to enjoy unprecedented production growth, favorable price, ready market, and free promotion from beneficiaries and sponsors. Therefore, TOMS possess long-term growth than its competitors Payless and Zappos.
In addition, TOMs has a catchy marketing sustainability plan that will keep it profitable in future. The company relies on its social responsibility as a sustainability plan. With a reputable ethical practices in the market, the company has expanded its global social responsibility and partnership with presence in all global market regions. The partnership gives a promising profitability edge for the company. The “one-for-one” strategy and most recent “storyline” marketing strategies gives its partners opportunity to tell their stories in TOM’s products. Organizations like UNICEF and World Vision have taken opportunity at TOM’s strategy to score their humanitarian objectives, which subsequently promotes the company (Armstrong, Kotler, & Opresnik, 2017, p. 490). As such, with continuous participation of such global organizations, TOMs will remain in the market. Thus, the company will do better in future than its competitors.
Armstrong, G., Kotler, P., & Opresnik, M. O. (2017). Marketing: An introduction. Boston, MA: Pearson.
Bloomberg (Director). (2009, September 10). Spotlight – Collective Brands – Bloomberg [Video file]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aY_HmDInENk
Hopkins, P. (2015). TOMS Shoes: A CSR case study. http://www.corporateresponsibilitynetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/topics-corporate-responsibility-society/regents_151204_toms-shoes.pdf
Marks, M., Lee, H., & Hoyt, D. (2011). Zappos.com: Developing a supply chain to deliver
WOW. Stanford Graduate Business School. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1pD4F4TqN9jWdAGaxO8t4jOJ5FX8N0he9/view
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