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Zag Ep. 51 Are Crocs cool now?, the biggest consumer electronics challenger you haven’t heard of, and 5 steps to building a media company around your brand

👀Are Crocs cool now?

What they did: Don’t look now…but Crocs are making a comeback. We’re been monitoring their share of search activity (which is a leading indicator for market share), as well as some of the brand activations they’ve done recently.

They opened a ‘virtual holiday store’, launched a partnership with Saweetie, did a collab with General Mills for a ‘Cinnamon Toast Crocs’, and even made an appearance in front of the king of England! We like some of these activations better than others (no more metaverse stores please!), but the most important thing here is that they are consistently showing up in new, innovative, and different ways that tap into the culture around their audience. Aka, they’re driving mental awareness and making their brand cool through association with other brands and trends.

Here’s a quote from one of their VPs that gives us some insight into the thinking that’s led to this approach and outcome -

“As a brand, we’re focused on transcending from products into emotion through more immersive and digital-first experiences. Evolving beyond traditional channels opens the door to an increasingly mutual, interactive relationship with consumers.”

Oh, and this isn’t just marketing for the sake of marketing. It’s having an impact on their business. Crocs stock has risen over 110% over the last five months.

What it means for you: What systems can you put in place to understand the cultural influences around your audience? How can you tap into and/or partner with those to build awareness and equity?

🇮🇳The biggest consumer electronics challenger you haven’t heard of

What they did: boAT is a consumer electronics brand out of India. They only launched in 2016 but are now not only the leading earwear brands in India, but also the fifth largest wearable brand globally. How have they done it? Well, a lot of it has to do with the absolutely prolific scale of their marketing efforts over the last few years.

We came across this great tear town of everything they’ve done to build their brand and grow their business. It’s impressive, and worth taking 10 minutes to read through at some point.

But the TLDR is that they’ve basically done everything! They’ve executed much of the challenger playbook - finding a point of difference in a crowded market, understanding and building relevance with their target market, constantly evolving their brand and comms, finding underpriced attention channels, building community, etc. But they’ve also driven mainstream relevance at scale through major sports and music sponsorships, big name collaborations, national TV and print campaigns, and celebrity endorsements.

boAt is an example of a challenger that has progressed beyond the niche ‘disruptor’ stage (like the Liquid Deaths and NoBulls of the world) and has been able to break into the mainstream to establish themselves as as true rival, a new incumbent in their category.

And their ambitions don’t stop in India…here’s an interview with boAt CEO Vivek Gambhir discussing their vision of and plans for becoming a “global Indian brand”.

What it means for you: What are the channels where you have an opportunity to build mainstream relevance (without blowing your entire marketing budget!)? How can you get creative with building your awareness and equity in bigger, more established channels?

🪜 5 steps to building a media company around your brand

What they did: Ok, so this isn’t a “they”, but we thought this article from Eric on Startups of London would be relevant to many of you. We talk a lot (really to anyone who will listen) about how modern marketing is about building a media company around your brand. We’ve put out a ton of content on it, but we really believe there is so much opportunity for so many challenger brands (or brands that want to think and act like challengers) to adopt this mindset and model.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“Challenger brands are thinking and acting like media companies. They are finding ways to add value to the audience they’re trying to reach by developing stories, content and experiences that people care about and want to spend time with. The biggest difference between a ‘media company’ model and a traditional or inbound marketing model is the focus on value exchange. Media companies are focused on adding value to the audience they’re trying to reach. Their business is about attracting and engaging an audience by producing content and experiences they want to spend time with. Traditional marketers are focused on extracting value from an audience by getting them to take an action that benefits the business.”

The article also includes 5 steps that any business can take to start adopting this model and putting it into action.

What it means for you: Are you thinking like a marketer or a media company?

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