Blog U › 
  • Provost Prose

    A provost examines the world on campus and in higher ed.

Kinky Product Differentiation
May 12, 2013 - 5:15pm

Kinky Boots is a wonderful new Broadway show.  Absolutely topnotch and one of the best shows I have seen in years. It has energy, style, substance, great music, and is thoroughly enjoyable. It also has an excellent story which encompasses economics and marketing, as well as psychology. And I can’t think of a better way for learning to take place than a spellbinding presentation of what is basically a true story.

The story line revolves around Price Shoes which is a failing shoe company in England (losing out to low priced imports) that makes a “range” of shoes for men.  Charlie Price, who has no interest in the shoe business, takes over when his dad suddenly dies and is faced with the prospect of firing people together with closing down the company. There is also a recommendation to turn the factory into a condominium project. While in London to arrange a sale of the shoe inventory, Charlie comes to the rescue of a women being harassed by a number of drunks.  In the course of the rescue, the women accidently knocks Charlie out and he wakes up in her dressing room.

It turns out, however, that it is not exactly her dressing room.  It isn’t the dressing room that is “not exactly;” rather it is the woman (Lola) who is in fact not a her and is instead a drag queen entertainer. Lola complains that there are no sturdy boots available that can easily handle the weight of male transvestites.

Charlie, however, seems to be at a loss of how to save the company.  Coming to the rescue is a factory worker who says to Charlie that what they need is to change their product line and to differentiate into a niche market where there is a demand.  Certainly excellent advice both from the vantage point of an economist as well as a marketing expert.  We know that foreign competition is fierce in many product areas and we also know that product differentiation can make a very positive difference.  By the way, I had a much easier time explaining product differentiation to my 11 year old than explaining the shoe needs of transvestites.

Charlie makes the decision that he will produce sturdy dress boots for male transvestites and that these boots will be designed by Lola. As you can imagine, not all the employees are thrilled with the transformation from producing a range of shoes for men to what is accurately described as producing shoes for a range of men. The story lines build until there is a major successful unveiling of Lola’s Kinky Boots at a Milan show.  At the same time there is also an important message about respecting people for what they are.

It all comes together beautifully and this is a spectacular show that will run for years.  And the show demonstrates the same lesson as Charlie’s shoe transformation.  If you create a show that is very special from beginning to end, the demand will be there.  Product differentiation is alive and well on Broadway.  And Broadway has certainly put its best foot forward.

 

 

 

Please review our commenting policy here.

Most

  • Viewed
  • Commented
  • Past:
  • Day
  • Week
  • Month
  • Year
Loading results...
Back to Top