Pester Power

As children have returned to school across the UK, the marketing department at Clarks Shoes must have been celebrating the success of their latest products.Caitlin Moran from the Times warns parents that 'There is a new evil out there, and it is the Clarks YoToy shoes' (The Times, 27th August 2007). These school shoes have been developed with a tiny plastic toy in a secret compartment in the sole of the shoe (BBC Video Clip). The BBC reports that sales of YoToy shoes have outsold their next nearest rival by a ratio of eight to one (BBC, 31st August 2007).   Whilst this is a clear success in terms of sales for Clarks, the strategy has not been without criticism.

The Irish Independent infers some underhand marketing of the shoes, stating: 'If you are a parent it is a blatant appeal to the enormous pester power wielded by little ones!' (Irish Independent Times, 5th September 2007).Many reporters talk of the swing away from sensible footwear for Clarks (a plus in the eyes of pupils but perhaps not for their parents), whilst there are also concerns about potential disruption to classes.In the short term however, Clarks must be enjoying the returns of its product development.

Whilst the success of Clarks new shoes is largely due to the originality of the concept, it is likely that the product went through a thorough development process before it reached the market this summer.For ideas about the stages that might be included in such a process, take a look at the Times 100 case study describing how Beiersdorf develops new Nivea products.


I'd love to live a more rounded life, but I'm too flat out – The TIMESONLINE, 27 August 2007

Shoes a must-have for new term – BBC News Media Player

Latest shoe gimmick is not good for parents' soul –, 5 September 2007

New shoes may be term time distraction – BBC News, 31 August 2007

The Times 100 Case Study – Nivea, How market research supports the new product development process

Suggested Study Questions:

What is the unique selling point of the YoToy shoes?

What is meant by Pester Power?

Do you think the explicit use of Pester Power is an ethical approach to marketing products?What are the arguments for and against?