Zing Sock Club: Weston Man Starts Sock Subscription Service

Zing Sock Club: Weston Man Starts Sock Subscription ServiceEXPAND
courtesy of Zing Sock Club

As an overweight teenager living in Weston about ten years ago, Mark Pfefer hated going to the mall. He didn't care about what he wore, never wanted to spend more than a minute in a clothing store, and he definitely didn’t want to try on clothes. The only exception: socks. A sock "had a universal size and you didn’t have to worry about it,” Pfefer explained. “It was an easy purchase, it was affordable, and I didn’t have to try it on. It was my easy way out of shopping.”

Fast-forward to 2014; a slimmer Pfefer was a college graduate working at Neostar Sports and Entertainment, a sports marketing firm in Weston that exclusively represents Dan Marino. He and his colleagues were watching subscription models popping up out of nowhere, such as Dollar Shave Club. According to Pfefer, Dollar Shave Club made shaving affordable without the need to shop. It started with a great product and paired it with some creative viral marketing concepts. Pfefer noticed that established brands like Gillette moved into the subscription model as well.

“We saw that the [sock] market was booming, and no one really had a grasp on the market in the subscription world. More days than not, people are wearing socks,” Pfefer says. “We took the concept that most men probably buy socks but don’t care to shop or spend their time searching. From there, Zing came to life.”

Combining his passion for socks from his high school days with the niche category that wasn’t fully tapped into yet, Pfefer, along with a team of business partners and friends, created Zing Sock Club — a monthly subscription service that takes shopping out of the equation while dressing up every occasion. Launched last September, Zing Sock Club’s main focus is to make sure its members never feel like they’re actually shopping. “We wanted the process to be quick, seamless, and integrated – but not allowing customers to get too picky,” Pfefer says.

Zing Sock Club currently offers casual dress socks, many with funky, colorful designs, all under the Zing brand. The designs get implemented into their custom-blended sock made of combed cotton, polyester, spandex, and a unique added material of rubber.

The first step is choosing how many socks you want (typically one or two, but some ask for up to ten) and how you want to pay (in-full or monthly). Discounts are based on how many pairs the member gets and how frequently he's paying for the socks. The average monthly subscription can range from $6.50 to $16. The member controls commitment by being able to stop whenever he wants. Subscriptions can be a one-time purchase or last three to 12 months. Next, members fill out a profile, a multiple-choice questionnaire with questions ranging from “Do you like to dine in or dine out?” to ones more particular to fashion, like, “How often do you wear a blazer?” The Zing system then puts your answers into an algorithm to choose the perfect socks for you for the lifetime of your subscription. 

“This isn’t a shopping experience. We wanted there to be a certain surprise factor,” Pfefer said. “We’ll throw in bonus items and pairs. Each package has a card with the sock you’re getting explaining why it was made the way it is, the name of the sock, and quick reading material or a story board behind the sock’s history. We’re trying to create a lifestyle, an experience.”

For Pfefer, the experience would be nothing without the backbone of the design team. His relationship with Marino, from his full-time job working at Neostar, ties him to the Marino Campus, a post-secondary educational opportunity for young adults with autism and other developmental disabilities. Pfefer has been hands-on with the campus for several years, which hits close to home for him, as he has close family ties to autism. According to Pfefer, when he was building Zing, he didn’t want to just donate to the cause; he wanted the kids to be a part of it. Zing Sock Club fits the philanthropic model, similar to Toms. With each pair of socks purchased, 5 percent goes back to the Marino Campus with the intention of building a scholarship in the Zing name for future students.

The latest Zing collection, with pairs ranging from $6 to $9, will be released in early October — just in time for the holiday season. The new designs will have an entirely different story that has nothing to do with the previous line. Each sock tells a unique story inspired by the students of the Marino Campus. Collaboratively, the students assemble a design and, as a group, piece together a storyboard from why the socks look the way they do to how they got their name. From there, the students will create the curated monthly messaging. For July, the message was, “May these socks be the fireworks that guide you to comfort! Happy 4th of July.”

“We’re really looking forward to these new designs. It’s nothing like you see in stores or online. The products are all inspired by the students, from the verbiage of the cards to the designs,” Pfefer says. “The passion they’re developing for it is really impacting how the socks come out. We like to say ‘Live in your world, walk in ours.’”

Zing Sock Club's website is zingsockclub.com.


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