Why Are Crocs So Popular? From Luck to a Serious Marketing Strategy

why-are-crocs-so-popular

It’s no secret that they have never tried too hard to appeal to the cool crowd, but why are Crocs so popular now?

These weird little foam shoes seemingly appeared out of nowhere and they quickly became a must-have.

We’re going to be talking about what has made Crocs really popular and then we’re going to finish off with some Crocs’ history. 

So, put your clogs in sport mode because we’re getting right into Crocs…

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Why Are Crocs So Popular?

crocs-are-so-popular-in-the-media

A lot of people say that Crocs shoes’ comfort is what really made them popular, but they were comfortable from day one.

So, although they are incredibly comfortable (always have been), back in 2007, Crocs weren’t embraced at all, and because of that, they were in serious danger of going out of business.

Crocs are so popular thanks to:

  • Comfortable material and footbed.
  • Personalization (with jibbitz).
  • Durability.
  • Practicality.
  • Versatility.
  • Range of designs.

But believe it or not, the two main reasons Crocs are so popular today are:

  • The great collaborations they did.
  • The pandemic effect.

Yes. The pandemic.

Let me explain…

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Collaborations

The product that many people either love or hate was named as one of the worst inventions by Time Magazine.

However, Crocs ranked No. 13 for most popular footwear brand between female teens according to Piper Jaffray’s spring survey in 2019.

In Spring 2022, they ranked No. 5 for preferred footwear brand and No. 8 preferred footwear brand for UI males and females.

Crocs’ honest brand identity, recognizable design, and Andrew Reese are what didn’t let bankruptcy occur.

Andrew used collaborations with a lot of celebrities, artists, fashion designers, and brands left and right.

Let’s go over the brand’s best collaborations that brought Crocs to the success it has now…

Christopher Kane

In 2016, designer Christopher Kane changed the trajectory of Crocs forever.

During his London fashion week summer spring 17 show, he debuted a Crocs collaboration creating the moment widely noted as the tipping point for the Croc identity evolution.

The next moment would come in 2017… 

Balenciaga

Balenciaga is one of the most popular brands in the world.

In 2017, the creator director Demna Gvasalia put his own twist on the Crocs adding a five-inch platform sole as well as custom Balenciaga jibbitz.

The release price was $850 and the model sold out before it could even get a chance to touch the shelves. 

These two massive fashion cosigns got the momentum going.

Crocs always sought out endorsements.

But after Prince George sent a volt of hype into their revenue stream, the company realized they could recreate the same effect by targeting A-list celebrities in the music industry, the kinds of artists who set fashion trends.

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Bad Bunny & Justin Bieber

They convinced Latino rap superstar Bad Bunny to endorse Crocs expanding their reach to new demographics in countries other than the United States.

So, Bad Bunny dropped Glow-in-the-dark Crocs and Justin Bieber released a pair with Drew House.

justin-bieber-crocs-sold-out

Post Malone

post-malone-wearing-crocs

Post Malone has been a huge fan of Crocs. Because of that, Post Malone and Crocs decided to team up on their own signature version in 2018, the Post Malone Dimitri Clogs.

Before he collaborated with Crocs, Post Malone tweeted, “you can tell a lot about a man by the jibbitz in his Crocs.”

post-malone-crocs-sold-out

Overall, these spokespersons were chosen based on various characteristics such as Malone’s lovable hobo image and Bad Bunny’s international appeal.

Of course, these spokespersons were picked due to one attribute they all shared: they target young people.

Pizzaslime

The release price tag of the Pizzaslime x Crocs Moc Crossbody bag was $300 and the more you look at it, the weirder it gets.

Is it a bag or is it a shoe? It’s definitely a bag featured in black and yellow colorway.

Then, Pizzaslime released another collaboration just for Crocs Day.

The model was in limited edition and it contained the letters that spell out Croc Day is Lit. Each pair appeared as a mystery order that will add a UV light for a bigger surprise.

Alife

Later in 2018, Alife surprised the streetwear community when they released Crocs With Socks. Now the shoes started showing up on Stockx.

Beams

In 2019, Crocs decided to collaborate with the Japanese brand Beams.

The first model shows a classic pocket clog, the second one is a classic sun visor clog, and the third is a classic fringe clog.

There was also a variety of women’s-only silhouettes featured in the collection.

Barneys

In 2019, the luxury department store Barneys New York presented two punk-inspired variations of Crocs.

The first one includes metal decorations such as large metal spikes, safety pins, and a chain. The other one is covered in metal studs and spikes in a light blue denim color.

These will cost you $90.

Chinatown Market & Carrots

Have you guys ever walked on grass and felt really good?

It looks like the collaboration between Crocs and Chinatown Market wanted to give you that feeling with these grass-covered Crocs.

These include a green turf applique and the rest of the clog is black and it features a Chinatown Market’s logo smiley face.

The pair cost $60 and was released in January 2019.

These were some of the best Crocs collaborations, which is the main reason Crocs are really popular today.

Other Collaborations

Other notable collaborations include spooky metacarpal-inspired shoes by Pleasures, an upcycled utility version by Nicole Mclaughlin, Classic Clogs with bright, colorful style by Takashi Murakami.

The company even worked with KFC to release a limited run of shoes that actually smelled like fried chicken.

Carrots did a stylistically on-brand orange and green rendition themselves.

Crocs’ most highly anticipated collaboration with Salehe Bembury flipped the iconic silhouette on its head creating the Salehe Bembury x Crocs Pollex Clog.

Salehe’s design incorporates fingerprint carvings across the entire shoe as well as a tasteful translucent strap detail.

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Next, how did the pandemic change Crocs?

Pandemic

2020 changed the future of Crocs forever. With their new structure in place, the pandemic hit at the perfect time.

With the pandemic locking everyone in the house, the restrictions took away the need to buy a large wardrobe of nice clothes.

Leisurely shoes became a necessity – something that didn’t have laces but something not as dehumanizing as a sandal.

So, since everybody was staying at home and cared way less about how they looked, Crocs made a comeback and so the pandemic set Crocs up for a ride into the business stratosphere.

In the middle of the pandemic, many people who considered them ugly said that they’re the perfect thing to own as they’re super comfortable.

When the restrictions were lifted and businesses reopened, many people didn’t want to sacrifice the comfort they acclimated so well to during quarantine.

And before long, hardly anyone did a double take at someone wearing a pair of Crocs at the grocery store or at a dining restaurant.

But now, Croc lovers seem to no longer feel ashamed of being caught in Crocs because they’re unbelievably comfortable.

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Talking about comfort…

Comfort

Crocs hit the things that are important to consumers.

The consumer is moving away from the conventional idea of beauty and at the same time, they’re definitely investing in products that are comfortable to the touch and comfortable to wear.

But what makes Crocs unbelievably comfortable? Five things:

  • Croslite foam.
  • Massaging footbed.
  • Back strap
  • Fit.
  • Breathability.

Because the entire shoe is made up of Croslite foam, you’re going to be blown away by how soft and how comfortable Crocs are.

Croslite is not rubber or plastic. It’s a closed-cell resin which is Crocs’ secret trademarked material.

It’s odor resistant, moisture resistant, slip resistant, lightweight, easy to clean, and it’ll even mold to the shape of your foot.

These shoes are so comfortable underfoot for surgeons, nurses, doctors, and all the people who stand up all day for 12 hours at a time.

nurses-wearing-comfortable-crocs

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The inside footbed has got this textured feel which kind of massages your feet and allows for better circulation as you’re walking around.

This footbed is definitely another one of the features that I’m sure Post Malone loves about Crocs because a lot of times when you’re performing on stage or just living life, you aren’t always wearing the most comfortable shoes in favor of more stylish shoes.

Around the back of your shoes, you’ve got your signature Croc strap. The strap is a much softer Croslite foam which allows for a little bit more comfort and it also locks your foot into the shoe.

The other thing that makes Crocs so comfortable is their roomy fit. 

Crocs don’t seem to fit exactly true to size. It seems Crocs run a little bit bigger in favor of comfort because the roomy fit really allows your feet to breathe and really move inside the shoe.

Not only do these holes on the top of your Crocs allow for the placement of jibbitz, they’re also great for ventilation.

So, if you’re wearing socks with your Crocs or whether you’re just going bare feet, your feet are going to feel great.

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Personalization

jibbits-on-crocs

According to Andrew, the other thing that saved Crocs is the mega trend for personalization.

Crocs wanted to market their shoes as a foam canvas, something expressive you could customize with markers or charms.

To catch the trend train, Crocs acquired Jibbitz, a company that makes those little charm things you can actually stick into the holes of your Crocs to accessorize and decorate your Crocs with.

jibbitz-company-acquired-by-crocs

You can buy individualized jibbitz for whatever your style is.

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Easy To Put On, Easy To Clean

The best thing to have when I want to grab the mail is an easy-to-slip-on shoe waiting by the door.

Athletes may wear something like this because Crocs are easy to slip on and off when they change into their other shoes.

Hikers also love them because they’re easy to clip onto their backpacks while they’re on the trail.

hikers-loving-crocs

The other reason why Crocs are so popular is because they are easy to clean (great for restaurant workers) and smell resistant.

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Sustainability

crocs-simple-design-and-recycling

Modern shoes are the most complicated that we’ve ever made them and that makes them very hard to repair and almost impossible to recycle.

But Crocs’ proprietary closed-cell resin material (Croslite) is neither plastic nor rubber. This simple design means that the company also has a really low carbon footprint in their production process.

So, theoretically, because Crocs are simply made of one single material, these things could be recycled with relative ease.

But this sadly does complicate things because we don’t actually have the recycling technology or facilities in place to dispose of or remake these kinds of shoes.

crocs-and-recycling

Now they have introduced a recycling program partnering with Soles4Soules for gently used clogs.

But looking further into their recycling programs, it’s just them cleaning the shoes and then giving them to people in need, which is awesome, but that isn’t what recycling means.

Crocs have also started incorporating a bio-based Croslite foam technology using new equilibrium technology into their collections that will supposedly transform sustainably source waste by-products into a shoe.

That sounds crazy, but I’m looking forward to it.

They aren’t revealing a ton of information about this right now, so I’m not going to get my hopes up.

But it would be great to see Crocs innovate in this way because they’ve also committed to becoming net zero by 2030 and they’re exploring sustainable alternatives for their packaging.

Social Media & Teens

A powerful marketing strategy can put a lot of impact on teenagers but so is social media.

Crocs specifically wanted to target teenagers and college-aged kids. That age demographic has historically set trends in industries like music, entertainment, and, of course, fashion.

In the same way the Boomers ushered in Rock ‘n’ Roll during the 50s, Gen Z helped make Crocs mainstream.

Crocs CEO explained the strategy to analysts during a meeting. He told stakeholders how impactful celebrities are on social media, especially on apps like Instagram where young people go more than anywhere else for fashion trends.

The marketing department also provided their influencers with unique styles.

For example, Justin Bieber can be seen lying down in a photograph surrounded by dozens of custom-designed Crocs and Nicki Minaj posted a picture of her wearing pink Crocs, and then sales for pink Crocs went up exponentially.

So, the marketers wanted to show that Crocs were more than a boring ugly shoe. They showed Crocs could be artistic.

After all, people had already seen regular single-color Crocs, but Crocs with special designs and color combinations were far more likely to catch people’s eye.

It seems since the pandemic, Crocs have managed to dip their toes into every demographic imaginable.

Affordability

crocs-classic-clogs-plain-colors

Usually, when a fashion item becomes popular, the designers will jack up the price.

Brands do it all the time, but Crocs promises to keep their shoes accessible to everyone.

Anyone can go on Amazon or the official Crocs store and buy themselves a pair for around $50 to $60. You can even grab some deals and get your plain-colored Crocs for as low as $10

Overall, it’s an affordable price for a famous shoe that’s really durable, which is a pretty rare combination for a product today.

Talking about durability…

Durability

I’m sure you’ve owned a pair of shoes that got wrecked and thrown in the trash because of a single problem like a blown-out heel, laces that ripped, or soles that wore through.

But probably the most impressive feat that Crocs have over almost all other modern shoes is that they’re virtually indestructible.

My parents still have those old Crocs that I left for them back in 2008.

durable-old-crocs

So, if you’re not running in marathons or getting a little too close to your campfire, a pair of Crocs can become a freaking heirloom.

The reason for this durability is their incredible simplicity. Not only does this make them extremely cheap to produce, but they’re less likely to have weak points.

Donation

“Since March 25th, 2020, we’ve donated over 860,000 pairs of shoes globally to healthcare workers on the front lines. We are still humbled to have seen such an incredible response from healthcare workers themselves as well as our fans, followers, partners, and media. Thank you to everyone who helped make this possible.” – Crocs

Other Brands Imitating Crocs

The Crocs reign of supremacy has bled into other brands as well initiating the wave of closed-toe clogs and foamy slides that we’re seeing appear everywhere.

Yeezy Foam Runners, Merrell Hydro Moccasins, Stussy Birkenstocks, and Bottega Veneta clogs are just a few of the high-profile examples of the clog choke hold on footwear.

Let’s finish off with some key history facts that helped make Crocs popular today…

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History (The Rise & Fall)

crocs-founders-Scott-Seamans-Lyndon-Hanson-George-Boedecker-Jr

The story of Crocs begins back in 2001 at the Fort Lauderdale boat show in Florida which was where its founders Scott Seamans, Lyndon Hanson, and George Boedecker Jr. discovered a boating clog from the Canadian brand Foam Creations.

Duke and Boedecker thought boaters would love a comfortable shoe or sandal that they could wear out on the water without worrying about getting it wet.

This is how these Americans unknowingly stumbled upon a truly novel idea that would go on to change their lives and the fashion world forever.

Later on, they acquired the rights to Croslite technology and would license the foam clog leading to their appearance at the 2001 show where they sold out the 200 pairs that they produced.

It took until 2006 for the shoe to become profitable, but after that, they’ve slowly over the years become something of a staple for casual activities.

Rise

When Crocs first touched the marketplace in 2002, nobody cared. Honestly, just like Birkenstocks before they got popular in the US, a lot of people just thought Crocs were really ugly and high fashion was pretty cruel to them.

But you know what they say about bad press. The fact that people hated Crocs so much contributed massively to their insane rise to mainstream popularity.

people-who-hate-crocs

In the early 2000s, they quickly went from stupid-looking boating shoes to one of the most popular shoes in the world.

Crocs responded to their meteoric rise by rapidly expanding into new markets, opening retail stores and kiosks, and releasing a ton of new product lines.

Along with the Classic Clog, you’ve got the Crocs Mary Janes, the high heels, the lace-ups, the flip-flops, and even Croc boots with the fur.

Crocs were snapping up market share without any natural predators in sight until 2008.

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Fall

The hype train that had been running on nitrous up until this point came to a screeching halt.

The 2008 financial crisis put a lot of businesses out of commission permanently and it hit Crocs so hard that they basically went on to the endangered species list.

In April of that year, their stock dropped by 30% in a few hours and they laid off over 600 factory workers.

As the economy and the company continued to nosedive, it seemed like Crocs disappeared forever.

The ever-churning trend machine charged ahead, and by the 2010s, Crocs were pretty much gone.

Like a lot of trends from the early 2000s, you may have hoped that Crocs were dead for good.

But just like low-rise jeans and bucket hats, whether you like it or not, they’re back.

Rise

In their time away, Crocs really learned from their mistakes and came back even stronger than before.

They got rid of all their random product lines and really honed in on what they were good at, the clog.

They also acquired a company called Jibbitz which is a company that makes those little charm things that people use to decorate their Crocs with.

In 2020, the pandemic did Crocs a huge favor when people finally discovered how Crocs were really comfortable. After the pandemic, people refused to let go of Crocs and so they wore them outside.

In 2021, the Gen Z made Crocs cool again. They were a huge part of the VSCO Girl Trend which brought back Scrunchy’s oversized T-shirts and choker necklaces.

VSCO-Girl-Trend-and-crocs

One difference with their latest round of hype is that nobody was questioning their ugliness. In fact, that’s sort of why people love them.

But Crocs aren’t just for Tik-Tokers and your 14-year-old cousin who really needs to start thinking about showering more regularly.

Celebrities like Justin Bieber, Post Malone, and Bud Bunny have started rocking these foam shoes, which opened up a whole new opportunity for Crocs.

This new hype beast energy took Crocs in a very different direction from their original success.

Now people associate Crocs with a Supreme or North Face kind of hype streetwear credibility.

This whole get-them-before-they’re-gone marketing is really great for building intensity or urgency within consumers.

Now there are Croc collectors like the Crocs King who have like up to 1600 pairs of Croc clogs just to collect them.

crocs-king-collector-instagram

Given the success of late 90’s and 2000’s trends, in 2022, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Crocs just blew up, but it does make you wonder about the company in the future.

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Conclusion

Over the years, we come across some fashion trends that are well accepted by some people and not welcomed by others.

But although Time Magazine put Crocs amongst their 50 worst inventions of all time and although many people thought they looked ugly, gaudy, and trashy, Crocs definitely showed the fashion world that ugly is the new beautiful.

I think as long as people are becoming more and more comfortable with going out in public in Crocs. And as long as famous people keep wearing them in front of the right people, Crocs will never cease to impress us.

It’s quite interesting how one of the most popular brands in the world is so hated yet used more and more as it grows in popularity.

But are Crocs just a boom-and-bust shoe company or is there actually some reason why they retained their popularity?

The footwear is fashionable now, but it’s hard to tell whether Crocs will be capable to hold its success over the next years.

So, according to you, why are Crocs so popular? And have you ever owned a pair of Crocs?

Don’t forget to share your opinion about Crocs in the comments section below.

We hope you enjoyed this article and I’ll see you in the next one.

About Eric

Eric Barber is a happy father of two little angels, a husband, and a runner. He eats, sleeps, and dreams anything foot related: running shoes, walking shoes, sneakers, you name it. It all started when Eric was a shoe store specialist watching and fitting people's feet day in and day out.

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