My Business' forthcoming June issue will look at the way hope works in marketing. You see hope used almost every day in numerous products that hold out the promise of a short cut to a desirable outcome.
The worst of them look like snake oil. Subtler uses of hope in marketing rely on things you already know - like the fact that antioxidants are good for you - and give marketers a way to emphasise positive qualities of a product by citing the presence of a known good.
One of the products we'll consider in our story is the Fitflop, a range of shoes marketed as having "a gym built-in" and as being "biomechanically engineered to help tone and tighten your leg muscles while you walk in them."
Fitflop also says its shoes:
- help increase leg and bottom muscle activity (up to 30%). (so you feel less ache in your hips and knees),
- absorb more shock than a normal shoe (up to 22%),
- help realign ground force reaction closer to your joints,
- reduce foot pressure.
Those kinds of claims are typical for products that market with hope, as once you read them carefully you realise that no promises of outcomes are made. The shoes "help" by "up to 30%" and there's no explanation of why the increase is good for you: is it really a good thing for your bum to work better? And which muscles work better? Are they the ones that make you faster, stronger or build endurance? That's never quite explained - another staple of hope marketing.
Hence our desire to test a pair of the shoes. Fitflop obliged and was kind enough to send me a pair of its Supertone shoes and I've been wearing them for nearly a month.
I can report they are perfectly comfortable shoes and turned a few heads.
Did they work? We've not had the opportunity to measure leg or bottom muscle strength, but can report the shaped insole makes for some uncomfortable moments when stooping or bending over.
On the upside, I have of late found that I can put on faster bursts of speed when riding my bicycle. That could be Fitflop-enhanced legs or the $438 worth of new gears and cranks I just bought.
On the downside, I've recently experienced some fascinating cramps in my right hip. I have the usual collection of middle-aged man lower back mess, so it's entirely possible that's to blame. Or perhaps the Fitflops have put me into a position that stresses those muscles?