The Shoelace Paradox

Some brand categories are very low engagement. Toothpicks. 3-prong converters. Cotton balls. Sugar. Combs. Whistles. 

Consumers aren't deeply engaged in every category, every brand and every product. They can’t be. Think of a swimming pool. Your brand is either at the deep end of caring, the shallow end or in the middle based on the occasion. 

I may love my iPhone. I may be an avid Starbucks fan. I may be over the top for Target.  I might really enjoy drinking Travaglini Gattinari wine or Laphroaig Single Malt Whisky. 

But sometimes, I don’t care about your category or brand at all - or at best very little. The brakes and battery in my car are vital to my well-being but as Rhett Butler said, Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn. 

Shoelaces have always been my default metaphor. Do you know what brand of shoe lace are in your sneakers or shoes? Do you care? 

Unless you have a problem with a shoelace that rips or brakes apart, they probably aren't top of mind. If you need to replace them, you might spend 18 seconds focused on the brands in the category at the store. 18 seconds. I noticed only one brand in my local grocery store - Kiwi. There wasn't even a private label brand 

From this marketer's viewpoint, shoelaces are the poster child for low category engagement.

Until now.

Hickies is an elastic lacing system that is seeking to unlace the future.
There system allows you to turn any shoe into a slip-on. They are paying attention to a category that hasn't had much innovation since the year 3500 BC when the leather shoes from the Areni-1 cave were found. 

The back story
The concept of HICKIES grew from a college student’s idea to a pioneer product. Gaston, the founder of HICKIES, disliked the bow and knot of traditional shoelaces and realized that he was not alone there; laces are every parent’s nightmare and every athlete’s hassle. The answer was HICKIES! Gaston and Mariquel (Co- Founder) got married in 2011 and decided to take a leap of faith and move from Argentina to New York to start their own company. 

They launched HICKIES with a Kickstarter campaign and raised 6 times the original goal, commanding attention from both press and retailers. HICKIES is the first elastic lacing system brand and has changed the way people wear sneakers forever. The founders aim to inspire new perceptions, creativity, and keep transforming reality with simple and fun solutions like HICKIES.

Tying one on
Are you in a blah blah blah type of category that no one pays attention to? Is there a nagging industry problem that you can solve? Can you disrupt the market and pay attention to a small niche? The marketing difference means that you are paying attention to an aspect of your category that no one else is focused on. It might be the red souls of the shoe like Christian Louboutin or the closing device like Hickies elastic system. 

Go ahead, untie a few knots.


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