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Crocs Are Cool Again? How They Made a Comeback. Crocs has gone from disdained brand to record sales highs and stock prices, thanks to a solid Gen-Z-focused digital strategy.

By Brendan Gahan Edited by Michael Dolan

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Crocs are cool? How the hell did that happen?

This past year, in the midst of the pandemic and an economic downturn that hurt nearly every industry, the brand everyone loves to hate saw their strongest revenue in history.

After their early-aughts heyday, Crocs suffered. In 2008, with "mountains of shoes and no one to buy them," Crocs suffered a loss of $185 million (Washington Post). The novelty of the rubber clogs wore off, and Crocs slipped from our radar. Until recently.

Crocs resurgence may come as a surprise to those not tuned in to the world of Gen Z, but it's no coincidence. Crocs has made a concerted effort to speak Gen Z, launching successful collaborations with Justin Bieber, Bad Bunny, and Post Malone (among others).

Crocs collaborations are one element to their continued success. The other is their digital savvy.

For brands targeting GenZ - not having a TikTok is as bad as not having a website. As of August 2020, TikTok had exploded to over 100 million users (CNBC). Over 60% of those users belong to Gen Z (Forbes). Organic reach on TikTok is about twenty-one times that of Facebook or Instagram at a shocking 118%. It remains one of the few platforms offering potential growth without paid support.

Crocs saw the platform's potential early on and found massive success using TikTok's flicker, flash, flare content strategy. Here's a breakdown of that formula:

Flicker content - Reactive

This content is reactive. It's probably what TikTok is known best for, low-production value content that encourages participation in trends and builds community engagement. Flicker content involves participation in trending hashtags, sounds, or memes.

Crocs was quick to recognize the value in incorporating flicker content into their strategy.

For example, they jumped on the OH NA NA NA dance challenge (which was a trend so popular it appeared on The Tonight Show), showing doctors dancing in their Crocs.

Related: Generation Z: 6 Characteristics of Centennials

Flash content - Proactive

This content is planned and/or episodic. Flash content is best for highlighting a brand's product and tends to be more produced than typical TikToks. It brings the brand story to life in an original, entertaining way-- incorporating elements such as recurring storylines or formats.

Crocs uses flash content to highlight new collaborations with visuals that inspire nostalgia or up their cool-factor by including pop culture icons.

Related: If You Want to Appeal to Millennials and Gen Z, Look Beyond the Latest Trends

Flare content - Large scale campaign initiatives

Flare content is meant to promote larger-scale campaigns. They should be engaging and invite the audience to create. Great formats for flare content include branded hashtag challenges, sponsored effects. All of which perform even better when influencer collaboration is involved.

Crocs executed flare content flawlessly. They used created the #StrapBack challenged to promote a collaboration with Afterpay, hiring TikTok influencers to create comedic scenes and dances that pointed out Crocs' affordability and tasked viewers to create their own. The campaign earned 7.2 billion views.

Related: How to Use TikTok to Promote Your Brand

The takeaway

Despite years of ridicule, Crocs has made a comeback as a Gen Z footwear staple. Their quick adoption of TikTok, intricate understanding of Gen Z, and smart collaborations have led to revenues beyond anyone's expectations.

TikTok is arguably the most important variable here.

The platform provides 118% organic reach and an average 7% engagement. This far outperforms their closest competitor Instagram (with about 5% organic reach). In short, TikTok is worth the investment.

If your brand isn't on TikTok, you are missing a huge opportunity.

While any new platform can be daunting, TikTok has provided a roadmap to help brands navigate. In implementing the flicker, flash, flare content strategy any brand can build and grow an audience.

If Crocs were made cool again - what is possible for your brand?

Brendan Gahan

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Partner & Chief Social Officer At Mekanism

Brendan Gahan is partner and chief social officer at independent creative agency Mekanism. Gahan has been at the forefront of social and influencer marketing since 2006, was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2012 and sits on the Vidcon Advisory Board.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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