We’ve all bought them at some time or another: the perfect pair of shoes. Stylish, comfortable – the kind you wear with everything until they fall apart, and you have to start scouring the internet for a replacement.
But recently you might have noticed that the way you find a replacement has changed. Not long after you begin your search, a pair of similar shoes appears, as a sponsored post, on your Instagram feed. They’re there one day, and then the next. You’ll likely end up seeing them countless times, though never in the flesh. The brand to which they belong may not even have a physical store – but its Instagram presence is such that you peruse its wares with the kind of frequency you only usually afford your local corner shop.
Gradually, the account becomes somewhere you regularly stop, just to see what’s new. You start looking at all the other items on offer: past that original pair of shoes, to mules, slingbacks, sandals.