Indestructible Crocs Facing Destruction
By Bernice Hurst, Contributing Editor, RetailWire
One of the more challenging challenges set
by Donald Trump for a group of celebrities last year was a campaign to encourage
Croc lovers to ditch their footwear. Based on the assumption that they could
not be destroyed, the idea was to pass them on to poorer people so those
who could afford them would buy replacements.
So reports The Times in the U.K., quoting
a Seattle fund manager who was surprised that his wife, rather than he, was
able to figure out the reason for the task. “They had saturated the market.
They wanted to stimulate demand by getting people to get rid of their old
Launched at a Florida boat show in 2002, the
indestructible shoes were widely agreed to be ugly but fantastically comfortable.
By the time the business floated in 2006, the $200 million raised made it
the biggest initial public offering in shoe history, according to The
But despite buying an accessories company
and looking for other new products, Crocs remained a single line business
and eventually found that there were simply no new customers around.
Sam Poser, an analyst at Sterne Agee, believes
that the problem lies in Crocs’ failure to evolve or extend their lines.
The fact that they are so widely available, and easily copied, has not helped.
By comparison, he believes Ugg shoes have a brighter future as their owner
has controlled distribution and come up with variations. Another analyst
noted, Uggs wear out, Crocs don’t.
John Duerden, a former Reebok executive hired
to revive the business, argued in his blog that they “are perhaps the perfect
product for a world in which value and simplicity are replacing avarice and
deciding whether to introduce this discussion, though, RetailWire editor-in-chief
George Anderson recalled hearing Paco Underhill say that as a brand
marketer or retailer you really should never look to have a “cool” product.
The problem with cool products, he explained, is that they eventually
become un-cool and suffer a demise that is in direct proportion or
worse than the success they achieved in becoming identified as cool
in the first place — a lesson that Crocs may or may not be able
to learn at this stage.
questions: Where did Crocs go wrong and what can it do to turn itself
around? Is there any way a one-product company can succeed long term?
When a company knows its products are trendy, what advance steps
should they be taking to assure long-term success?