Crocs Malaysia and race based market segmentation
Update – Thursday, July 1 2010, 5.38pm UTC+8: What happened, happened. What was said, was said. Oftentimes, a slip of the tongue, really is no fault of the mind. Maybe I was a little too harsh here, so when reading this 1,000-word essay, just keep that in mind. I’m sure the MarCom Manager did not actually mean what she said. The calibre of her presentation was good, and we learned some new things about their digital marketing strategy. In fact, you might just want to go read the other case studies (Canon, BFM 89.9, MyEG, P1 W1MAX)! To err is human, to forgive divine. Let’s all take a chill pill, and have a beer or something ;-)
I graced a SMCKL meetup tonight. I haven’t been in about a year (scheduling conflicts); it was fabulous to catch up with all my friends, learn new things and I have quite some notes that I’ll talk about soon. But this is about my relationship to Crocs, and Crocs Malaysia, at large.
I love my Crocs Yukon. In fact, I love it so much, I pretty much buy a new pair once every six months! You might wonder why. The soles tend to wear out, not evenly, just around the midfoot, usually towards the forefoot. But this quick wear has never been a problem to me, because I love my Crocs; I wear them everyday.
If I’m on my feet, my Crocs are wrapped around them. The current pair (in its six months with me) is world travelled – it’s been to: Singapore, London, Thailand, Finland, Iceland, Germany, the United States, and China. Its been on numerous planes (Dopplr suggests my carbon total stands at 17,414kg CO2). Its been through freezing winters and rather hot tropical weather. Crocs have been on me when I meet deputy-ministers, ministers, and even a certain prime minister. I wear Crocs to meetings. I wear Crocs when I give talks. Some friends refer to my pairs of Crocs as “government Crocs”. We always have a chuckle at that.
The bottom-line is that it’s quite hard to find me in a pair of shoes. I’m usually always in Crocs. The very rare occasion of me wearing shoes has me wearing a very comfortable pair of Geox shoes, or an amazing pair I picked up from Marks & Spencer.
Back to SMCKL #7 – we had the Marcom Manager for the company that imports/distributes Crocs in Malaysia come speak to us. She mentioned the name of the parent company, but I never did get it, so for all intents and purposes, this is defined as “Crocs Malaysia“. Her presentation was rather interesting, and a few points I took away from it:
- They invest heavily in Facebook – they have the regular Crocs Malaysia page, as well as a Crocs Ideas page (which isn’t linked form the main page). They have over 14,652 fans that like their page. Content is largely what’s coming out in the stores, and what’s to become available.
- There’s some Twitter engagement (@crocsmalaysia), but it does not seem as popular as Facebook (other speakers had similar comments).
- They’re doing blogger engagement. For the year 2010, they’ve picked five: FeeqSays, Rebecca Saw, Marcky.my, MissyCheerio, and Christopher Tock. These bloggers are known as their “official bloggers”.
- While the arrangement isn’t made clear with the official bloggers, it is made clear that the official bloggers get free Crocs, in exchange for writing about how Crocs have influence on the daily life of the blogger. Bloggers are basically selling stories, pushing experiences, where their Crocs get involved. I don’t know if there’s a minimum post count/amount of engagement required, or its something you do in passing (which is why I said the arrangement isn’t clear). I do however think that with the proper metrics, story telling and sharing experiences, totally rocks.
- To engage with their readers, these official bloggers also get to run competitions on a weekly basis, and the rewards are free Crocs for winners. Good, it gets more Crocs out there, especially to the non-believers ;)
Everything seemed like it was going well, and she was doing a fabulous job at presenting her case study. Until the moderator asked her: How do you choose your bloggers?.
She does not go for “A-list bloggers” like Kenny Sia, or Nicolekiss. A-list Malaysian lifestyle bloggers. She went on to tell the audience that each blogger has value in them. I take it that everyone has a story to tell, and everyone has their own tribe. Then she talked about Feeq. She said that his target market is the Malay market. She did not want to only target the Chinese market. Crocs Malaysia targets all market segments: Malay, Indian and Chinese.
Wait, what? There’s race based segmentation and targeting in footwear? In social media? Online? We live in a time, where Malaysia is no longer just Malaysia; its the cliché of 1Malaysia. And here the faux pas, stated in front of a large audience, the yardstick used, is in which racial segment a blogger is popular in.
I immediately reacted:
Clearly disappointed that @crocsmalaysia is profiling/targeted by race. So much for being Malaysian. Time to find new footwear #smckl
There was another tweet which wondered what the difference in race brings? And whomever is behind the @crocsmalaysia account stated: it is just our way to reach out to all consumers of all races thru our bloggers. One might think that this is something only I took offence in; lucky for me, I was not alone. People came up to me, replied to me, and even direct messaged me on this very topic.
Social media, and the utility that it travels on, the Internet, does not discriminate against race, colour, creed, nationality, gender, and more. You should choose a blogger because she has a wide Malaysian audience! In Malaysia however, it seems ingrained that there will always be profiling, separation, and a system in where we don’t have one nation, but at least two separate nations. Maybe we only have the incumbent political parties to blame for this.
As an aside, I think it is important to distinguish what you say to a close group of friends, versus what you say on Twitter, versus what you say to a large audience of folk (i.e. when you’re speaking in public). When you start representing a brand, you’ve definitely got to start thinking about how you articulate yourself. A topic to talk about elsewhere.
Either way, I cannot remember when I first shelled out RM209 for my first Yukon. I expect it must have been late 2007, or at latest early 2008. My (extended, truly Malaysian) family is also big on Crocs. However, I think its time to wean myself off from Crocs, and find non-discriminatory footwear.