Case study: Crocs appeal

Marshall Ross

It's a CEO's dream: a product catches fire almost by accident and then takes off like a rocket, seemingly able to soar without the cost of marketing. But then you wake up and realise that the growth would have limits and the product's story was being written by others – others who don't like you.

This is the dream-to-nightmare scenario that global footwear maker Crocs recently experienced. A euphoric high, and then a slam back to Earth. But it's also an example of how fast-acting the power of story can be. Just months after experiencing near-death lows in late 2009, Crocs has control over its narrative, is on its way to broader and healthier growth and is making new friends all over the world.


Crocs began life in 2002 as a boat shoe. That explains a lot about why the Crocs iconic sandal looks the way it does. It's designed to work well in water. Its rubber-like material, actually not rubber at all but a proprietary closed-cell resin called Croslite, helps you keep your grip on wet and slippery surfaces, won't absorb water and then weigh you down, dries quickly, and is mould and mildew resistant. Just what boaters need.