Saturday, September 29, 2007

A whole bunch of Crocs

Crocs are clog-like footwear, made of a proprietary plastic resin called Croslite.
Currently, Crocs are sold in 27,000 stores in 80 countries and counting.
Croslite is a lightweight, water-proof resin material which softened with body heat.
This forms a shoe to the shape of the foot, making it very comfortable.
A Canadian company saw the possibilities for spas, and developed a clog which also had
holes for air and drainage.
Scott Seamans and Duke Hanson came across the footwear during a sailing trip from Islas Mujeres, Mexico, to Florida in 2002.
They started a company selling the clogs with a friend, sandwich chain executive George Boedecker. For financing, they borrowed £2.6million ($5.2million) to buy the Canadian firm behind the original design. Seamans added a strap across the heel to make it perfect for boating.

They called their version “Crocs”, since the clogs would look as good out of the water as in it. There initially market was spa and boating people. Once they went mainstream, they encountered fierce criticisms from the fashion industry. To put it bluntly – both the American and British fashion industry hated the Crocs with a passion. Customer disagreed – they made Crocs their favorite summer footwear. Kids, seniors and everyone in between snapped up the colorful clog-like sandals like candy - including Hollywood celebrities and Prince William’s on/off girlfriend Kate Middleton and her friends.

The company fares well as a result – they floated on the US NASDAQ exchange in February 2005. Crocs' CROX stock has climbed since to over 300%.
Recently, there was a backlash. Parents complained that their kids wearing Crocs on escalators could be hurt. The potential danger was highlighted on the CBS Early Show with CBS Correspondent Susan Koeppen. According to media reports, a child in Arkansas had to have a partial amputation after his shoe got caught last year. In Virginia, a mother managed to yank her little one free with only a deep cut. However, it is important to keep in mind that escalator accidents can happen with any shoe. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission there were more than 10,000 injuries last year – 20 percent of which happened on the side or near the top or bottom of the escalator.
The negative media coverage didn’t affect Crocs’ popularity.
Crocs decided to branch out and launch an Autumn/Winter collection, consisting of closed-toe and leather-trimmed styles and a strapless clog lined with microfiber.
It also keeps of closing licensing deals, including deals with Major League Baseball, DC Comics and Marvel Comics.

So what is the secret of Crocs’ marketing success?
Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD Group, gives a great inside.
He labels their appeal as the “bulldog effect” – they are so ugly that they are cute, not unlike Uggs.
Other success factors are:
  • They are comfortable.
  • They are marketed through word-of-mouth marketing.
  • They are affordable.
  • They are widening the assortment to boots, flip-flops and fashion shoes.
  • They are turning into a lifestyle brand.

Will Crocs have a long life? Only if they stay hot and captivate the market – not an easy thing to do!
Just in case you wonder – do I own Crocs? No, never in my life! I wholeheartedly agree with Amanda Platell in her hilarious article in the Daily Mail.

No comments: