Pre-2020, who would have thought that Crocs and sweatpants would be all the rage? Fashion as we once knew it has been flipped on its head. With the prevalence of staying home and a whole lot less socialization (read: reasons to get dressed) new CivicScience data indicates that consumers have adopted comfort shoes at a high rate since the pandemic hit. This lines up with sales data from NPD, showing record sales of Birkenstocks and Crocs in recent months.

Survey results show that 25% of Americans 13 and older have purchased what they would deem ‘comfort’ shoes, sandals, or slides in the past 6 months. Yes, it’s been just about 6 months since lockdowns started across many parts of the country.

Interestingly, among all people still working / getting paid in some capacity, we see near identical rates of having purchased comfort shoes. This is not unique to the remote worker, as some may assume. We only see those who are out of work under-index in having made a comfort shoe purchase or intent to do so.

What’s more is those who have made a comfort shoe purchase have a rosier outlook than their counterparts about how much longer they expect to have to practice social-distancing. 

The above chart likely has to do with age. Cross-tabulating comfort shoe purchases with all ungrouped age buckets reveals that 18-24 year olds over-index in having already made a comfort shoe purchase in recent months. Their slightly older counterparts (24-29 year olds) are behind them in purchasing already, but show the highest intent to do so.

Though not as high as among 18-24 year olds, a slightly higher adoption of comfort shoes in recent months by 30-34 year olds and 45-54 year olds compared to the baseline / general population is also observed.

Women are much more likely than men to be interested in comfort footwear at quite a noticeable rate. 

Padding Stress and Worry

Those who have made a comfort footwear purchase report higher levels of stress in their lives than those who are not interested in this style of shoe. Same goes for worry. Those who have purchased these shoes express higher amounts of worry than their counterparts.

It’s a Brand Name Game

CivicScience went further and surveyed the general population on their experience with two popular brands of comfort footwear: Crocs and Birkenstocks. Depending on which circle you run in, you may think of these as ‘ugly’ shoes.

Crocs are more popular than Birkenstocks among those aware of the brands, in that a higher percentage have adopted them; however, Birkenstock owners have a higher satisfaction rate with the product.

Brands by Demographics

There is a clear difference in brand affinity between Birkenstock and Crocs among the 18-24 year old crowd. Looking at Birkenstock, 18-24 year olds clearly are not fans of Birkenstock, but are of Crocs by a large margin.

Women are much more likely to have adopted both Crocs and Birkenstocks than men. This is especially the case with Crocs.

Crocs are pretty affordable, therefore accessible to a broad range of income brackets. We see this in the data in terms of the spread across household income segments, but interestingly those in the $125k+ range are most likely to have them.

Birkenstocks, which can range anywhere from $44-$400 (yes, a luxury version exists) have near equal adoption and intent among all 4 earning brackets; showing only slightly higher rates in the upper two.

Crocs and Birkenstock Intenders Think They’re Hot

Again, as these styles of shoes could be deemed ‘ugly’ among many, CivicScience cross-compared brand favorability with personal perceptions of one’s own attractiveness.

Those who own both brands are more likely to deem themselves average looking, slightly more so among Birkenstock owners than that of Crocs. 

Very notable is those who plan to buy either brand are much more likely to consider themselves more attractive than their peers– especially Birkenstock intenders.

Returning to Normal in Comfortable Shoes

People who own either brand over-index the gen pop (60%) in saying they didn’t really resume normal activities yet since their locality allowed them to do so (72% of Birkenstock owners and 71% of Crocs owners). Even more of each brand’s intenders have not resumed normal activities.

Cannabis Consumption

Crossing brand adoption with cannabis use, we observe that Birkenstock owners are much more likely than their counterparts to use cannabis.

On the other hand, Crocs intenders are much more likely than their counterparts to use cannabis.

While comfort shoes have been adopted by one-fourth of the population over the course of the pandemic thus far, there appear to be many factors as to why. Younger women are big fans, and this could drive a whole new generation of ditching heels for a more supportive footwear option.

CivicScience is tracking dozens more questions about the impact of the coronavirus, plans, and intent, digging deep into demographics and more to help industries plan for the future. Is this topline data helpful? Our clients get even more. Let’s talk.