The red sneakers effect and why breaking conventions can make people respect you more
Contrary to popular belief, being weird is a good thing.
Silvia Bellezza, Francesca Gino and Anat Keinan discovered something intriguing.
A University professor who wears red sneakers or a t-shirt (and has a scruffy beard) is seen by students as higher status. AND also as more competent than a professor who wears a tie and shaves his beard.
In 2008, Nadav Sharon co-founded a Food-delivery app called Eat24.
Back then, GrubHub was 4 years ahead in the game and leading the US food delivery market.
When Eat24 founders tried to raise money, angel investors and VCs laughed.
'Your service will have no demand!', some said.
'Your management team has no track record', others said.
With $0 in VC funding, Eat24 founders did what entrepreneurs with skin in the game (risking their own money) do.
They got creative.
They started advertising Eat24 on porn websites like Pornhub.
This was a bold yet risky move.
But Eat24's banners had 3 times the impact of their ads running on Google, Facebook, and Twitter combined. And it cost them 90% less.
The truth is, on porn websites Eat24 was competing against “Penis-enhancement pills” ads, fake ads and...porn. Not against against food delivery companies.
That’s why results were spectacular.
Because Eat24 figured out a fun way of reaching the perfect target audience (in an unexpected yet logical place): Men between 18 and 24 (who watch porn), and who don't have culinary skills beyond the microwave.
This was how food orders via Eat24 skyrocketed.
Which may be why Yelp bought Eat24 for $134 million in 2015.
When you do something a bit unusual (and break conventions), you don’t just stand out from the crowd. People also respect you more.
Takeaways for your business:
1. The Red Sneakers effect doesn't just apply to academia. Breaking conventions in your industry signals confidence, status and power.
For example, Luxury boutique shop assistants also know by experience that “wealthy people sometimes dress very badly to demonstrate superiority".
And that "if you dare enter these boutiques so underdressed, you are definitely going to buy something.”
Remember when Mark Zuckerberg climbed on stage at the World Economic Forum in Davos wearing Adidas flip-flops in a room packed with CEO's and World leaders wearing fancy suits?
2. Looking for a way to stand out in a crowded product category? Hack consumer indifference by placing your brand in a clever and unexpected yet logical place.
3. When you write copy, your voice is your personality on paper. So inject more personality into your copy. It’s the clever way to differentiate your brand from samey samey competitors.
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