What a Croc – Shoe Sales Keep Climbing

Discussion
Jul 18, 2007

By George Anderson

Source: ihatecrocs.com

They’re ugly, right? Won’t even some people who wear Crocs admit to it? Why, then, do so many people continue to spend hard-earned money to wear these neon colored clog-like shoes?

According to a Boston Globe report, sales of Crocs during the first quarter of 2007 were up roughly three times over the same period a year earlier.

The brand took an unusual path to its current success. Unlike many other items that find a market on one or both of the coasts, Crocs were first a hit in mid America. Today the brand is sold in over 80 countries around the globe and the company continues to look for new growth opportunities.

The one constant in all of Crocs marketing is the comfort of wearing the brand’s shoes.

Even when Crocs announced a new upscale women’s fashion footwear line called YOU by Crocs in June, comfort was integral to the consumer message. The new line, which will be available for sale in stores in the fall, combines the Croslite closed cell resin structure of Crocs with other materials including leather, suede and lambs’ wool. The line has nine items (eight with heels and one flat) priced between $149 and $299.

CEO Ron Snyder said in a company press release, “YOU by Crocs is the intersection of comfort and fashion and is ideal for the woman looking for high-quality footwear without compromising style or comfort. By leveraging the versatility of our Croslite material and our footwear expertise, this line serves as the next step in our contribution to the evolution of the comfort footwear industry.”

There are still those who maintain that Crocs are simply a fad that will soon fade away. The company, for its part, has other plans. Tia Mattson, a spokesperson for Crocs, said the company is focused on “building a lifestyle brand” that touches on categories beyond footwear.

A fan base has built up around Crocs with websites dedicated to exploring the brands various virtues. Conversely, others have sprung up to revel in their contempt for those who reside in Croc-dom.

Kate Leth and Vincenzo Ravina, two college students in Halifax, Nova Scotia,
started a website called ihatecrocs.com.

“We don’t understand why people can’t freely admit that they’re hideous,” Ms. Leth said.

Discussion Questions: How do you explain the success of Crocs? What do you think of the company’s focus on positioning Crocs as a “lifestyle brand” that goes beyond its core shoe business? Does a website such as ihatecrocs.com and the publicity it creates help or hurt the Crocs brand and its product sales?

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11 Comments on "What a Croc – Shoe Sales Keep Climbing"


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Joel Warady
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Joel Warady
14 years 10 months ago

Full Disclosure: I am not a Crocs wearer nor would I go out with my spouse if she chose to wear them. That being said, it is amazing how fast the product has grown in the marketplace–which, of course, is a sure sign that it is a fad.

Crocs are available everywhere, and that is not necessarily the best branding strategy to maintain sustainable growth. When a majority of people start to wear the product, it actually can cause a backlash. While people do follow the herd mentality, they also want to be original. Today, wearing Crocs is not original, and that will lead to an exodus of the brand.

Can it become a lifestyle brand? Doubtful! For every Nike that has achieved this status successfully, there are Skechers, Candies, Hush Puppies, etc. that have not. Crocs have seen their peak, no different than Beanie Babies did. Watch for the next big thing!

Paul Waldron
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Paul Waldron
14 years 10 months ago

Why Crocs are successful is simple–they’re comfortable; they’re fun; they’re trans gender and trans generation–what more could you ask for? The negative websites and publicity does very little to either help or hurt Crocs because the people who wear them simply aren’t interested–happy feet is what they want.

Michael Tesler
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Michael Tesler
14 years 10 months ago

Those are great questions. Anyone who can answer with certainty would either be the world’s greatest fashion designer and trend setter or they should be someone who spends their time and dollars in Las Vegas or Monte Carlo because they know secrets we don’t. Those really interested in trying to understand why trends happen should read “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell.

Dan Nelson
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Dan Nelson
14 years 10 months ago

Crocs (like many fad/fashion brands) started in the right place and became trendy for that reason. One can debate the look as trendy or ugly, but I do know they are quite comfortable and very affordable. The non holed top version seems to be a hit with Doctors, and found in many hospitals now, so comfort must be a key element.

In-trend brand extensions make sense for the Cocs, Inc. now, since they are still in vogue with consumers. How well they extend the brand is to be determined, but Crocs will need to continue to build on their trend image with a savvy marketing message built around their lifestyle image, and that will be key to their sustainability with the trend conscious consumer.

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 10 months ago

Comfort, durability, and great colors: not a bad formula for a shoe brand. The footwear business is so big that even a tiny market share slice can be lucrative. Let’s see how Crocs meets the usual footwear brand life cycle challenge of 2,000 copycats at prices as low as 80% less within 12 to 24 months. Birkenstock has waxed and waned, but managed to keep its niche for decades. The classic Hush Puppy pigskin suede models have survived a long time, too. Maybe Crocs can join the Multi-Decade Shoe Brand Survivors Club.

Li McClelland
Guest
Li McClelland
14 years 10 months ago

The precursor to Crocs, called “Rebounds,” were made by a Canadian company, who sold their soft, lightweight, weatherproof easy-on, easy-off, easy-clean “crocs” through gardening stores and catalogs. Originally, people like me only wore them in the yard or to walk the dog on wet days. Now, one can wear them everywhere! Renaming them as Crocs was marketing genius. Yes, Crocs will lose some of their current fadishness and style mavens will continue to eschew them, but Crocs will be like Birkies and hang around for a long, long time because they are so practical and comfy. The cheap imitation versions of Crocs, which look the same but are neither as comfortable OR durable as the originals are a threat to the brand, however. Crocs will be wise to invest in a brand identity and protection ad campaign.

Mary Baum
Guest
Mary Baum
14 years 10 months ago

After the craze fades, I think they’ll still be a prep-school staple–like Birkenstocks, but also those plaid golf pants that only come from Orvis most years but venture into the mainstream about every twenty years.

As for ihatecrocs.com…there is an element of society that gets very vocal when another market segment decides it will no longer follow fashion trends that involve pain.

Jim Dakis
Guest
Jim Dakis
14 years 10 months ago
Think of the countless other trends that have come and…gone. Well, not all have gone so quietly. Notice how we still have to remind our teenage boys to pull their oversized pants up as they hang half way down their behinds? Footwear fads have come and gone, and quite frankly, plenty of them have not been comfortable ones. Who else is old enough to remember those hideous platform shoes of the seventies that were the envy of both your male and female friends!? As I walk through our mall now, I see Crocs sold in footwear stores, boutiques, and even Hallmark. I am waiting for them to show up in my stock room. If they do, I will present them along with the Reefs and Quick Silver Edition that have become the “go to” fashion of more and more people. Granted, I’m not crazy about the wardrobe choices of some people who chose to wear them in environments that should be a bit more professional, and I’m not sure that a hospital or doctor’s office… Read more »
Dick Seesel
Guest
14 years 10 months ago

It’s a smart move for Crocs to evolve from a single item (which still appears to be selling like crazy) to a broader assortment of footwear and accessories. Merrill is probably a good parallel in footwear…their business has evolved from a single item (the Merrill “moc”) to a full line of casual shoes for men and women, at the same time as their original item was being knocked off by competitors. As others have commented, Crocs apparently really do fit the promise of comfort and affordability…whether you can stand how they look is a matter of personal taste.

Jeff Weitzman
Guest
Jeff Weitzman
14 years 10 months ago

I’m the only one in my family that doesn’t have a pair! Ugly or not, they’re comfortable. The rise of Crocs reminds my of Keens. They’re funny looking, but the most comfortable Teva-type sandal you could imagine, with a closed toe that made them more versatile if a bit funny looking. Now every other manufacturer has some version of a similar style.

This is simple: find a need, meet it, sell a lot.

Steven Roelofs
Guest
Steven Roelofs
14 years 10 months ago

They are comfortable, practical and inexpensive, so yes, they do fit in with a Midwestern lifestyle–like bib overalls! And since Midwesterners–or at least my Midwestern family–really don’t care much what other people think, I wouldn’t expect much influence from detractors’ Web sites, etc.

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