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Crocs is the brand that celebrates “Come As You Are”

October 2020

In 2002 Crocs was introduced to the world as one of the most unique brands that anyone had ever seen: they were different and that made some people uncomfortable. Now, hundreds of millions of shoes later, Crocs makes the world comfortable. Let’s learn a little more about this unique brand that encourages people to “Come As You Are.”

Geoff Colon Microsoft

You’re watching The Download. I’m speaking with Heidi Cooley, Head of global marketing at Crocs. Thanks for joining us today. Tell me about Crocs.

Heidi Cooley

Crocs makes the shoe that is the ultimate form of self-expression. Many consumers recognise our iconic classic clog around the world.

Geoff Colon Microsoft

Who is the Crocs customer?

Heidi Cooley

First and foremost, we call ourselves a very delightfully democratic brand. We have shoes for everyone. That being said, our target consumer is the female millennial, partially because her attributes align to ours. She's fun. And she's brave. She's comfortable in her own shoes, and she's unapologetically optimistic.

Geoff Colon Microsoft

How did Crocs respond to COVID?

Heidi Cooley

We too closed retail stores all over the world at the onset of the pandemic. But the way Crocs responded was different than a lot of footwear companies. So first and foremost, our strategy is rooted in what we call a consumer first approach. We are a brand that every single day listens to our fans, whether they're asking for white classics for graduation to prom shoes, we respond to fans one-on-one every day. And at the onset of COVID, fans started reaching out. They were healthcare heroes, they were their family and their friends, and they were telling us that they needed the functional benefits of Crocs. They needed footwear that was easy to clean, easy to put on and off and comfortable. And when fans started reaching out, we knew we were a brand that had to respond.

Geoff Colon Microsoft

How has your marketing been impacted?

Heidi Cooley

Like every brand we made incredible adjustments real time. Programmes were cut. Programmes were pushed, programmes were moved to next year. That being said, the most important campaign we've probably ever initiated to date was our campaign called “Free Pair for Healthcare.” And that was our response to consumers needing our shoes. Within five days of healthcare heroes around the world asking for Crocs, a global team initiated a commitment around giving tens of thousands of pairs a day out to healthcare heroes. Over the course of 45 days, we gave away 860,000 pairs of Crocs, valued at over $40 million.

Geoff Colon Microsoft

If you had to pick the biggest learning during this challenging time, what would it be?

Heidi Cooley

I would say we learned that our strategy actually works. We learned that being consumer first is the only approach for our brand. We learned that as a brand, we have to continue to respond to the needs of our consumers and we have to be agile and quick when we do that. We're a digital first brand. We've been a digital first brand for years now. And that gave us a lot of momentum through the pandemic to make sure we were meeting customers where they were spending their time. And we also created some fun, you know, we gave away free shoes to healthcare heroes, but we also dropped collaborations and Snapchat filters and other ways to engage our fans as their worlds were changing as well.

Geoff Colon Microsoft

The brand tagline “Come As You Are.” What does this mean?

Heidi Cooley

It was created because we realised that as a brand, we were different and we were unique and there were lots of fans around the world that resonate with that feeling. So, our brand manifesto is “Come As You Are.” We celebrate all different kinds, and we stand with what we call all “one of a kinds” every single day. As again, what we believe is the ultimate form of self-expression. Our shoe is an incredible canvas to create whatever it is that you're feeling for the day.

We realised that as a brand, we were different and we were unique and there were lots of fans around the world that resonate with that feeling. So, our brand manifesto is “Come As You Are.”

Geoff Colon Microsoft

Queer actress and advocate, Ruby Rose, teamed up with you to design the new “Just Love” Classic Bae clog. It's got a colourful marble treatment unique to every shoe and removable laces. How did this come about?

Heidi Cooley

Every collaboration comes from a place of authenticity. Ruby Rose was a fan of Crocs before we ever reached out to her about a partnership. And that's the essence of how we go about marketing at Crocs. When we reached out to her about designing a shoe for Pride, she was in 100%. She recognised the association between our brand manifesto “Come As You Are,” and the value she believes in as an individual. What I can tell you is there will absolutely be more inclusive efforts from Crocs in the coming days and months and years, as we continue to bring to life our manifesto.

Geoff Colon Microsoft

Have you seen good return on investment from these strategic moves? That's always a big question asked of design and marketing.

Heidi Cooley

We believe that our brand momentum has never been stronger around the world. We're seeing positive trends from an eCommerce performance perspective, and most importantly, we're building incredible goodwill with fans that believe in our vision. They too believe that everyone should be comfortable in their own shoes.

We're seeing positive trends from an eCommerce performance perspective, and most importantly, we're building incredible goodwill with fans that believe in our vision.

Geoff Colon Microsoft

Now, a question about Feeding America, how did that programme come about?

Heidi Cooley

That was another great programme we initiated in the midst of the pandemic. After we wrapped up, “Share a pair with Healthcare,” we realised that there was additional opportunity for our brand to do more. And we wanted to do more in servicing our local communities in which we realise our neighbours and fans were being impacted every single day. So we recognised Feeding America as a critical partner for us here in the U.S. because the money goes back directly to the local communities in which it's raised. They have been a phenomenal partner. Our fans all over the U.S. have helped us donate over 15 million meals in the last four months. We look forward to continuing to work with them as a partner in the future.

Geoff Colon Microsoft

Now, besides customers, the biggest fans of a company are employees. So how have Crocs employees responded to the inclusive and philanthropic work that the company is doing?

Heidi Cooley

There are avid loyalists of Crocs that work here every single day. Amidst the global pandemic it was that team that leaned in. The day that fans started asking us for shoes for healthcare heroes was the day that the entire Crocs team around the world started working remote. And yet that team spent five days tirelessly trying to deliver on what our consumers needed from us. So what I can tell you is they're proud. They're proud to work for a brand that does the right thing. They're proud to work for a brand that's continuing to evolve, continuing to learn, and continuing to do better for our employees and our consumers around the world.

Geoff Colon Microsoft

Heidi Cooley, Head of Global Marketing at Crocs. Thanks for joining us here on The Download.

Heidi Cooley

Thanks so much for having me today.