The Wellington boot. Topboots, billy-boots, barnboots. Muckboots, sheepboots or gumboots.
The tall hunting boot, originally designed in leather for the Duke of Wellington, was recreated in rubber and became required footwear for use in Europe's flooded trenches of WWI. It then found further use again in WWII.
After the wars, gumboots became popular among men, women and children as general wet weather wear. Even Christopher Robin donned them to visit the 100 Aker Wood. Soon enough, laborers found them useful for daily work as they became the preferred protective shoe in all forms of industry, eventually including a steel toe. The gumboot was a versatile boot; a people's boot.
The gumboot was a successful manifestation of fulfilling a need, finding broad appropriate application for the product, and then, through design and marketing, elevating the product to global levels of success.
Social media and a consumer conversation
I thought about the international success of this remarkable, organically grown (in a marketing sense) product while I listened recently to Paul Simon's Gumboot. The song title refers to an African dance performed wearing the boot, but I was struck by the lyrics and how, like all good poetry, they seemed to be talking about something very current, unanticipated the time of its writing: social media. Here's a conversation between a brand and a consumer, just the kind of conversation a company could--and should--be having with their customers.
I was walking down the street When I thought I heard this voice say Say, ain't we walking down the same street together On the very same day I said hey Senorita that's astute I said why don't we get together And call ourselves an institute
You don't feel you could love me But I feel you could You don't feel you could love me But I feel you could
Isn't that the acquisition mantra internally brewing in the mind of every marketing or sales professional?
"You don't feel you could love me, but I feel you could..."