Iconic footwear brand Hush Puppies is undergoing a major brand transformation in Australia, backed by updated modern collections designed to appeal to younger customers, fun collaborations and an upcoming gamification campaign in September.
Traditionally known as the comfort footwear choice for grandparents, the local team has “really spun this brand on its head”, according to general manager, Charlene Perera.
“It’s a 61-year-old brand and we had gotten to this point where we had gotten old with our customer. We were doing the same things, expecting a different result. It’s a vicious cycle so many retailers get into,” she said.
“It took us probably a year and a half to find our feet and being predominantly wholesale with a smaller retail network, it took a lot longer to turn it around. But the last two years for us have just been on the up, which has been really amazing for a heritage rand in this climate. So we’ve seen growth across our retail network, online and our department stores.”
Next month, as part of a campaign to promote the bounce technology within their shoes, Hush Puppies will launch an online game on its website for customers, which will be promoted for four weeks across radio stations in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
In each state, Hush Puppies will run an activation, where radio announcers representing customers at the top of the leaderboard will then battle it out against each other in zorb balls.
According to Perera, it is these “unexpected” and fun initiatives that have helped to re-direct the brand and give it new life.
“For our 60th birthday last year, we threw a party, we invited all the buyers into our office, the customers that shop in our store, all our team and we raffled off the car on the night. It was a massive party, you know. It’s fun stuff and I don’t think other brands are doing it. And I think those little things go a really long way,” she said.
Earlier this year, Hush Puppies was the official shoe of Mardi Gras and a sparkly pair of shoes was created specifically for the event. When the brand turned 60 last year, it went on a music road trip around Australia, paying homage to the rich rock ‘n’ roll history behind the brand – musician Keith Richards famously wore a pair during a Rolling Stones concert.
According to Perera, while Hush Puppies is based in the US, the brand turnaround has largely been led by the Australian team, which designs 90 percent of the local collection.
The updated Hush Puppies range is now focused on the everyday woman who wants both style and comfort.
However, there has since been a global push by Hush Puppies in the US towards an updated collection of the brand’s famous Power Walkers.
“I think in the women’s space, we had really allowed ourselves to get old, we were aging with our customer,” Perera said.
“It’s fun for us to be able to have a bit of tongue in cheek. We know that they the Power Walker were the grandpa shoes that everyone relates to Hush Puppies, but in slightly less cooler colors. The heart of the brand for me is it’s a happy brand and optimistic – it’s backed by a little dog!”