10 Crocs Marketing Secrets That Made the Whole World Wear Plastic Slippers
Nowadays, big companies that produce clothes and shoes need to do something more than just make products in order to attract customers. All brands look for their unique feature that will make people visit their stores and spend money. Some retailers bet on beauty, others hope for comfort. And the company from this article decided to use a different feature — their unpleasant appearance. And they were really successful.
We at Bright Side love shopping, unless we spend all of our money. We have reviewed all the marketing tricks that Crocs uses in order to help you save as much money as possible.
Who designed the slippers that look like a crocodile face?
At the end of the 90s, 3 friends, George Boedecker, Scott Seamans, and Lyndon Henson decided to set up a business together. These guys had some experience managing big companies so their collective skill sets had to grow into something incredible. And they did.
The businessmen came across a Canadian company called Foam Creations, that developed an incredible polymer material. The shoes made of this material shaped accordingly with the foot of the owner, didn’t absorb smells, and were very sanitary.
Boedecker, Henson, and Seamans bought the idea from the Canadians and started producing sandals for yachtsmen. The shoes turned out to be so comfortable and durable that they were quickly sold to people that value comfort and don’t really care about appearance. But most importantly, people that had no relation to yachts started to buy them too.
In 2002, Crocs sold 200 pairs of shoes and by the year 2017, 300 million people had bought the classic shoe with a crocodile on the logo. At first sight, the success came unexpectedly, but there is a clear marketing strategy behind those billions of earned dollars.
They deliberately designed “ugly” shoes and made a bet on the material.
When you buy Crocs shoes, you are not buying some rubber slippers for working in the garden or visiting the pool. All the shoes are made of Croslite, which is resin with cells that, according to the manufacturer, prevent bacteria from reproducing.
Crocs patented this material and they file lawsuits against those who try to reproduce the shape of their shoes. Despite the many jokes and the terrible reviews of the design of the shoes, customers still keep going to the stores to get new pairs. People are ready to live with the design if they are given comfort and health in return.
They collaborate with famous designers to make spending $50 on slippers hurt less.
Since the very beginning of its life, Crocs has been blamed for their terrible design and the shoes even won the title of the worst invention ever. However, this design is not a mistake, it is a deliberate marketing strategy.
The brand’s marketers were the first to create the ugly shoes trend. They are ugly but extremely comfortable shoes. Later, the same feature will be adopted by Australian UGG and German Birkenstock as they try to repeat what Crocs did. Millennials really love the idea of wearing these slippers that don’t need to be washed with a special shampoo. Crocs sandals are bought by active young people that are against trendy clothes and shoes. But in the end, they still buy “ugly” products and earn the company billions of dollars.
Crocs is actively working with fashion designers. In 2017, during Christopher Lane’s show, models were walking on the runway wearing Crocs decorated with rocks and pompoms.
Bright colors make people buy several pairs at the same time.
In the beginning, the young company didn’t have money to spend on experimenting with models, so the same model was produced in 20 different colors. The main competitors of Crocs are sports giants like Nike and Adidas, so the company had to create the feeling of variety.
However, even today, the most loyal fans of the brand buy several pairs in different colors. In the middle of the 2000s, Crocs tried to experiment with the shape and even released a pair of heels but they almost lost their customers. Now, the assortment is wider because they have boots, sneakers, and shoes, but the classic slippers still make up 50% of all the products sold.
They choose a specific kind of celebrity for their ads.
The Crocs company doesn't just use random celebrities to promote their products. Their ads are deliberately targeted to specific people.
- The official ambassadors of the brand were Drew Barrymore and Natalie Dormer that "sold" their products to young women, trying to convince them that Crocs are fashionable.
- Popular rap singer Post Malone released his own version of Crocs that sold out in just 10 minutes.
These are examples of deliberate collaborations. But other celebrities also influence the sales of Crocs.
- In 2015, little Prince George appeared in Crocs and increased the sales of kids' slippers by 1,500%.
- Recently, Justin Bieber has been seen wearing Crocs on top of socks.
- Also, Crocs have been worn by George W. Bush, actress Helen Mirren, singer Ariana Grande, and many other famous people.
The brand is oriented toward girls and women that follow fashion trends (they will get a pair for themselves and one for their boyfriend or husband). And also, the target is young parents that are tired of buying new shoes for the constantly growing feet of their child: because the material is soft, Crocs can stretch a bit.
The main advantage of the brand turned into its main flaw that almost killed the company.
In its first years, the sales of the brands were too aggressive: almost every American family owned a pair of slippers from this company. As a result, the long-lasting material played a trick against the brand itself: people just didn’t need to buy a new pair because the previous ones were indestructible. Besides, there was a series of scandals that involved the brand:
- The models for kids were not safe: the slippers got stuck in the mechanisms of escalators which led to accidents.
- Hospitals in Sweden prohibited nurses and doctors from wearing Crocs. The thing was that their slippers produced too much static electricity that messed with the function of medical devices. So the brand had to alter the formula of their signature material.
They made new models that were supposed to be different from the classic shoe.
Recently, the brand has started to produce more elegant models in order to shake off the reputation of “funny” shoes. The new models make it really hard to find the logo of the company — this is Crocs’ way to earning the love of their haters. They try them once without even knowing and fall in love with the product.
In their ads, they promote a specific lifestyle that most adult people want to have.
Crocs ads make their customers emotional. When you come to the store, you don’t just but a pair of slippers made of resin foam, you literally buy yourself a good mood. Using bright videos, marketers build a link in customer’s minds to a relaxed rest. So, the shoes are not associated with hard work.
Jibbitz shoe accessories were designed for children, but now they earn millions.
Classic Crocs models have 10 holes for ventilation. It turned out that these holes can bring in a lot of money too. In 2005, married couple, Rich and Sheri Schmelzer, invented decorations for Crocs in order to make their children happy. The spouses took out a loan, opened a store, and started making real money: during the first year, they earned $2 million.
A while later, Crocs paid the inventors $10 million and bought the idea for decorations inserted into the ventilation holes. Initially, the decorations were meant for children, but later they became a cool accessory that adults used too. The desire of children to wear funny things is a great tool for marketers. Children take their parents to the stores and make them buy completely useless stuff.
The shoes are for everyone, but the main target audience is people with an above-average income.
Despite the simple design, Crocs presents itself as a brand for people with an above-average income. Because a lot of manufacturers produce fakes, it was hard for the company to keep the money coming. The solution was simple: they attracted rich customers, for example, when they released a pair from Balenciaga that cost $500, and fashion designers invented warm inserts made of natural fur.
They stopped producing shoes and started closing stores all around the world.
In 2018, Crocs closed down its last factory: the company doesn’t produce shoes anymore. Now, third-party manufacturers produce Crocs. The brand has now closed down most of their stores and they are selling most of their products online.
Bonus: How to find the best price, avoid fakes, and save your money.
We have found reviews and recommendations from people that have experience with Crocs shoes.
- It is virtually impossible to tell a fake pair of shoes from the real one. Nowadays, everyone is making fakes of Crocs: you can make a pair of same-looking shoes in your basement. And because they are sold without a box, the chances of buying a fake pair are extremely high. If you decide to buy yourself a pair of their slippers, do it in stores that you fully trust.
- The brand targets people from the US, Asia, and Western Europe. There, the shoes cost way less, and there are many more colors and models.
- Unlike the popular misconception, Crocs are not orthopedic shoes. Yes, the manufacturer produces anatomically correct slippers, but doctors don’t recommend wearing them for a whole entire day.
- Crocs organize seasonal sales, but the drop in the prices is not significant. In order to find really cheap offers, you need to look for discount stores. Again, US customers get the best prices.
- There are a lot of dissatisfied clients: most bad reviews we’ve found online are bad because of the high price and also because feet sweat in them a lot.
Do you like Crocs products? Have you ever used them?