I was in Central America over the holidays. It was really sunny and warm, thanks for asking! I was at a new resort (golf, pools, beaches) with a fairly low proportion of North Americans/Western Europeans relative to local guests.

I had to assume based on the surrounding conditions in some of the smaller villages, these locals were the one-percenters, if not the 0.01-percenters. This story isn’t about economic inequality though, I’m just trying to set the scene. Imagine blue skies, 31ºC, with a cloud every now and then to give you some respite. The ocean gently breaking against a beautiful, if not oddly spongy, sandy beach. And, 500 feet back from that was the primary resort pool with various sources of shade and beverages.

While taking this all in, suddenly it hit me. All of the locals were wearing Crocs—100-per-cent adoption by the 0.01-percenters—well, the males and children anyways. Women wore what my significant other referred to as “obscene wedges.” This is not my point though—it was the Crocs! I instantly tried to think through why and how this could happen:

  1. Maybe I had slipped into a hot tub time machine and my watch had been set back somewhere between 5-10 years?
  2. Central American celebrity influencers went wild with Crocs?
  3. Excess supply in North America slowly trickled down?

Seeing that my first thought had the highest probability of the three, I figured it had to be something else. Then it dawned on me, or maybe I had a flashback to my marketing classes. It was that idea that each market provides a new opportunity for a brand. Sure the world is smaller with social media, but Brooklyn hipsters don’t start every trend.

Then the dots started to connect. Some of our biggest clients are brands gaining access to the Canadian market. They need intel on submarkets, regional cultures and audience profiles. But we often aren’t allowed to start at first principles. We don’t get to think of it as completely new or unique.

Canada is different. For example, there is a history and culture behind why CCM outbrands Reebok when it comes to hockey equipment.

Quebec is often taken for granted. The fact is that campaigns that are “new,” culturally relevant or unique are appreciated, if not hungrily consumed, in La Belle Province.

With new, luck and hope are not strategies. New needs audience insight and market knowledge (media, regulatory, legal, distribution, etc). If new is data-driven and measured then it’s possible to meet or exceed expectations.

Who knows which approach Crocs took to the Central American market? Was it new? Was it luck? Was it strategy? Whatever it was, it was a reminder that every market is a chance to start again, even if it is a new submarket or audience.

Happy New Year!

(PS – I know it’s a bad pun)