During the epidemic, flip-flops seemed to be the comfortable choice for everyone who couldn't leave the house. The change in people's lifestyles has led global casual footwear company Crocs to increase annual sales by 200% since 2019. Now halfway through 2023, Crocs is still steadily expanding.
Is all this bucking the trend of the epidemic, or is it the result of the brand's global growth plan? Jing Daily spoke with Andrew Rees, Group CEO of Crocs, and Michelle Poole, EVP and President of Crocs, to find out how the brand has been able to navigate through changing consumer trends and seemingly inadvertently create a cultural trend that has swept Gen Z by storm! --The "crocs" trend.
"People's habits changed during the epidemic, and that shift did help us sell our products, but it wasn't the main reason," explains Andrew. Andrew explains, "Crocs' success is based on a long-term sustainable growth strategy. We have listened to our consumers, capitalized on casual and personalized trends, and priced our products affordably. We have found that the public's quest for comfort is an enduring trend, not a flash in the pan."
Andrew Rees, Crocs Group Chief Executive Officer
Photo credit: Crocs
Once a rowing shoe.
How did they become a fashion item?
Founded in 2002, Crocs is now one of the largest and fastest-growing footwear companies in the world. Originally inspired by the rowing shoe, the bulky silhouette combined with lightweight, waterproof Croslite™ material provided comfort, functionality and fun - but at one point, it wasn't considered "cool" enough.
Andrew joined Crocs as president in 2014 and became CEO in 2017. At the time, the company experienced a series of setbacks as it tried to reverse its "not cool enough" image. As part of Crocs' brand transformation, Andrew made the decision to refocus on the classic holey shoe design and expand Crocs' brand message from comfort to individual expression.
Speaking about the brand transformation, Andrew said, "We plan to build a global association between the brand and 'holey shoes' to create a loyal consumer base in key markets. We have launched a marketing campaign called 'Come As You Are' to promote individuality and encourage people to choose footwear that makes them feel comfortable. At the same time, we have also begun extensive collaborations with a wide range of celebrities, designers and brands to build brand relevance and appeal to new consumer segments."
Crocs' focus on comfort and personalized looks through Jibbitz™, which can be inserted into shoe holes, coincides with the spirit of fashion in the post-epidemic era. With celebrities such as Post Malone and Justin Bieber sporting the "holey shoe" and fashion houses such as Balenciaga co-branding with Crocs, more and more Gen Z consumers are picking them up.
Collaborating with designers and pop culture
Crocs and Salehe Bembury's Joint Collection
Injecting creativity and relevance into local markets
Co-branding with strong influences has been key to Crocs' rise on the international fashion scene. From design collaborations with Salehe Bembury and Balenciaga to co-branding chicken-flavored Chippendales footwear with KFC, these collaborations continue to push the boundaries of creativity and appeal to a more diverse market. By 2023 alone, the brand plans to have more than 60 global partnerships with celebrities, brands and licensors, 25% of which will be led by regional markets.
Image credit: Crocs
"When we build brand partnerships, we focus on evaluating three key metrics: authenticity, creativity and relevance." Michelle, the brand's Executive Vice President and President of Brands, explains, "Successful partnerships allow us to bring freshness and excitement to existing fans of the brand, while also providing us with an opportunity to reach new customers. These new customers may never have considered purchasing our products before, but often become lifelong fans of the brand after realizing the comfort and functionality of the products."
Michelle Poole, Executive Vice President and Brand President, Crocs
Photo credit: Crocs
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