According to Vox, over 10 years after their first appearance, Crocs has rebranded itself as the new “in” shoe.
How does a company bounce back from being on Time magazine’s “slideshow of the 50 worst inventions”? It follow trends.
The shoe-fashion world is in an “ugly shoe” phase, where fashion houses like Balenciaga, are getting away with creating seemingly unappealing shoes and successfully selling them at high-profit. While the success of many of these fashion houses and their shoes stem from their brand-name label, fashion tends to follow fashion, and smaller brands are able to successfully follow suit once a higher-profit brand paves the way.
There is no doubt that Crocs had this idea in mind when they partnered with Balenciaga or Alife. In combining high fashion with the luck that “their particular brand of ugly is on trend,” Crocs is gaining notoriety.
— Crocs Shoes (@Crocs) November 1, 2018
Crocs is targeting a particular kind of consumer, though. They understand that their new brand is not going to be popular amongst school teachers or middle-aged mothers. Rather, they are targeting “the ‘explorer,'” who can be described as a “Gen Zer who stores his Crocs next to his Yeezys.” In other words, “the explorer” is someone who is up on current fashion trends and is passionate about his self-brand.
On par with this branding strategy, especially to this age group, Crocs also “announced a collab with rapper Post Malone.”
Crocs spring 2019 collection “features a bright, bold palette,” but it also includes more neutral, inconspicuous colors, like the classic black-and-white look.
This branding strategy is not unique to Crocs. In fact, most brands that are now struggling to maintain relevancy and popularity are trying this route. It is their belief that if they gain younger customers in abundance, those customers will stick with them, while targeting an older or wider range audience would maintain their stagnancy. A recent collaboration between Kodak and Forever 21 is “targeting teens obsessed with old-school analog technology.”
Many companies are using this branding practice because it works. Crocs is now ranked 13th in the top footwear brand category, up from 27th last year. Crocs’ success within this target audience could also stem from the fact that the Gen-Z age group is unlikely to have the funds to purchase top-brand shoes like Balenciaga or Gucci. Crocs are wildly more affordable, and attempting to be just as cool.