Crocs, the shoe brand once regarded as an ugly duckling, is having the last laugh.
In 2022, the 20-year-old brand saw revenues climb 53.7% year-over-year, reaching a record $3.6 billion, according to its year-end earnings reported in February. Crocs have gone from a boat shoe brand, whose top search results 10 years back were of memes making fun of the clogs, to a brand organically celebrated by a growing community that includes Post Malone and Bad Bunny. Key to the brand’s success is its marketing, managed by Heidi Cooley, CMO of the company since 2016.
“Twenty years ago, marketing was the follower in an organization,” said Cooley. “Now, it’s often the marketing functions that are bringing forward new concepts like web3. Technology has never moved this fast and great marketers can drive that innovation.”
Crocs’ push into the metaverse — including with virtual stores and Roblox activations, as part of its “digital first, socially-led approach” — was encouraged by its customers, Cooley said.
Starting in 2016, the brand kicked off an annual, viral celebration of Crocodile Day. Every October 23, customers show off their Crocs shoe collections, tagging their photos with #CrocNation. In 2022, Croc Day evolved into “Croctober,” fueled by the company with prizes, activations and free shoes. “Prior, Crocs had never trended on Twitter,” said Cooley. “But [frand fans] were tagging friends who are naysayers of the brand and inviting them into ‘Croc Nation.’”
In October 2022, Cros launched the first K-Pop concert in Roblox with Aespa, a K-Pop group with 10 million Instagram followers. It drew the second-highest attendance at a one-time Roblox concert, with 2.5 million visits. The show also drove 789,000 visits to Crocs World in Roblox. The experience included exclusive VIP benefits for members of Crocs’ loyalty program, Crocs Club. Crocs World in Roblox currently has 2.3 million recorded visits.
The concert was followed by a meet-and-greet with Aespa in digital world Zepeto, which resulted in 225,000 purchases of virtual clogs on the platform.
“Our marketing strategy is grounded in a consumer-centric approach, which is what a lot of great marketing organizations say, but it’s hard to create and to do,” said Cooley. “We put our fans and the Croc Nation community at the heart of all of those activities by focusing on community events, even in digital worlds.”
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