On Friday night my niece across the table pulls out her phone and rattles off the list of gifts she wants for her birthday, in September!! My first reaction was intrigue, around the fact that she is thinking that far ahead, the second was disbelief around one particular item that was on her list… Crocs!
In the last couple of weeks I have seen a 40 year old female and a 10 year old male wearing Crocs… something that I put down to a glitch in the matrix. My niece, though, tipped the glitch into the mainstream.
Some 20+ years ago, anyone caught in a pair of Crocs was outcasted by society. I hate to say it, but there was loads of shaming.
Crocs are now a big thing. When and why is this happening?
Just a bit of a background on Crocs. They were invented by three guys that wanted to create the ideal ‘boat shoe’ – comfortable and slip resistant. This was in 2002. They had a super clear customer segment they were going after. As Seth Godin would say “people like us”! Crocs were on their way.
So happened for Crocs to go from a boating shoe to a fashion trend, worn by celebrities the world over?
Despite this ‘boating shoe group’ being small, the die hard loyalists took a good story and ran with it. They were wearing their Crocs even outside of boating activities and for longer periods – usage occasions going up – tick. They were also telling all their family and friends about how comfortable and versatile Crocs are (something we all do when we are on something that impacts our life in a fabulous way). Then there’s the aesthetics of Crocs, who can miss the loud coloured wholly rubber-like shoe?
This small group helped get the word / shoe out there.. And they were loud and proud about it!
Now inject the emerging fashion trend of unconventional, coupled with celebrity endorsements, social media and collaborations, and Crocs is spreading like wildfire.
One of the most successful collaborations was in 2017 with Balenciaga, a luxury fashion brand. A merging of everyday comfort and luxury. The brand association with Balenciaga alone, increased buzz, talkability, cultural relevance and their fan base… in turn increasing brand value. From dirty boat wharfs to fashion runways, they have trickled their way into a 16 year old birthday gift list.
From a positioning aspect, Crocs continue to evolve who they are and it’s resonating. From a promotional aspect Crocs are ticking all the boxes – they are staying top of mind with their audience (they even acquired ‘Jibbitz’ a company that sells charms for your Crocs). From a product aspect they are flying. Crocs have continued to expand their product line to include a number of different styles such as sandals, flats, and sneakers (and they have a patent on the material Croslite). This diversification has lead to Crocs appealing to a wider range of consumers and occasions.
This is a good reason why we need to be careful with solely focusing on the demographic (age, gender, income) and not psychographics (lifestyle, personality traits) for example. Hence the importance of targeting an attitude, not an age, and as the older want to be younger and vice-versa, there is an interesting ‘middle ground’ opening up.
Knowing what I know now about Crocs, it makes complete sense why my niece aspires to own a pair.
Me personally, I’m still not there, and I truly hope I never get there… but never say never!!
P.s. If you are wondering where the name ‘Crocs’ came from, because the shoe was designed to perform on both land and sea, the name came from the multi-environment, amphibious crocodile.