Monday, October 20, 2008

Crocodile Rock

Are there only two kinds of people in your world? Let's ponder and see where this takes us ...

Have you noticed that in your travels, business dealings and life experiences, there are givers and takers?

Doers and slackers?

Lovers and fighters?

Thinkers and stinkers?

Walkers and talkers?

Canadiens lovers and Habs haters?
(If you're an American, replace Canadiens with Yankees, Lakers or Cowboys and you get the picture).

When it comes to professional wrestling, have you noticed there is a group of people who need no explanation in terms of "getting it"; while on the other side there are folks for whom no explanation will ever do?

Have you also taken note of the same dualistic pattern when it comes to footwear?

Specifically, "Crocs".

Personally, I can't stand them and fall into the "you couldn't pay me enough to wear them" category, but for a brand like Crocs that's a good thing. In other words, its people like me that has people who own a brand like that, laughing all the way to the bank.

Whether you and I are in love with Crocs or not, should not diminish the level of respect for what the brand has accomplished since taking its first awkward steps about seven years ago. It all started with three Colorado honky cats cheering themselves up on a Caribbean booze cruise.

Maybe it was the tequila that made them madmen accross the water.

It was 2002, when Scott Seamans, Duke Hanson and George Boedecker headed out on a sailboat to share a few beers and business ideas. Once at sea, Scott showed his down-on-their-luck buddies a new, Canadian-made boat shoe. Boedecker, a self-made millionaire from pizza franchising with a soft heart and a drinking problem, had invited Hanson, a childhood friend and marketing guy on a losing streak: he’d lost his job and his mother and his wife had filed for divorce. Hanson had moved in with another recently separated guy, electronics exec, Ron Snyder, at what friends called the “Dejected Man House.”

At first, Boedecker and Hanson dismissed the idea.

"The first thing I said was, 'Man, are those ugly", recalls Hanson.

But then he tried them on.

"It was like walking on Nerf Balls".

Unlike other clogs, this shoe was cool and lightweight. Slip- and smell-resistant. (The resin is "closed cell," which means bacteria can't take root.) The partners promptly struck a U.S. licensing agreement with Quebec-based Foam Creations.

Since "Foam Creations" lacked a certain cache, Hanson stepped up with a new name. He was keen on crocodiles because they're good on both land and water, live a long time, and have no natural predators. Then he realized that when the shoe is viewed from the side, it slopes up like a crocodile's snout.

Eureka!. "Crocs" were born.

The newly christened Croc was a hit at the 2002 Fort Lauderdale boat show, where the first 200 pairs were sold in two days and the brand took off from there. Crocs Inc. acquired Foam Creations in June 2004, and in February 2006, it went public. The "Dejected Men" have done well for themselves as sales climbed to $840 million in 2007. Snyder has been CEO of Crocs since 2005 and shepherded the shoe brand through its IPO with a market value that currently exceeds $1 billion dollars.

Despite the goofy appearance, Crocs drew many accolades for comfort. (As one blogger put it, "You have to put on a pair and try them and, I swear, you won't care if they look like donkey balls, you'll just love them.") But there are also a significant number of Croc haters out there as witnessed by the website (Dedicated to the elimination of Crocs and those who think that their excuses for wearing them are viable).

Such is the price one pays for developing an irresistible, magnetic brand.

If you gaze down your yellow brick road and hope to see a brand with magnetic appeal in your future, consider this:

magnetic / mag’netik / adj. 1 having the properties of a magnet. 2 producing or acting by magnetism. 3 very attractive or alluring (a magnetic personality).

By its very definition, the strength of any magnet only ever equals the degree in which it repels that which it does not attract. In other words, many great brands have determined a repellent factor must exist in order for a brand to attract and hold on to loyal customers. Brands like Apple, World Wrestling Entertainment and Crocs have proven the product they sell is less important than the brand they market, but in doing so each makes a choice - knowing they can't be all things to all people. How else do you explain why there are so many Croc fans enduring the ridicule that goes with wearing shoes that make them look so ridiculous?

An overabundance of look-alike products and me-too services, is forcing customers to search for something, anything, that is even remotely different.

Can you think of a way to separate your "Croc" from the clutter?

What is it about your brand that could be used as a repellent? Do you have something you can use to keep the riff raff away?

Are you ready to choose who to lose?

"The great thing about rock and roll is that someone like me can be a star" ELTON JOHN

1 comment:

Marc said...

Talk about being polarized! Crocs are as dead as Elvis. They failed to bring out new products, have been plagued by manufacturing delays and are constantly being sued by wearers with mangled feet from these things getting caught in escalators. Knock offs are for sale at every corner.

Investors have not been fooled for long. Their stock went from $80 to $2.19 and their market capitalization (enterprise value) is now of $180M. This one trick pony quite possibly is suffering from more than a cold, this might be terminal.