Here's a sentence I never thought I'd write: Crocs (CROX -1.97%) is the global leader in clogs, and clogs are picking up steam.

Regardless of your opinion on the polarizing footwear, the comfortable foam shoes have been enjoying an astonishing run in recent years. With casual wear on the rise, the company thinks its market leadership will translate into huge sales growth over the next five years. Specifically, on the company's investor day, Crocs' management shared that they think sales will reach $5 billion by 2026, representing average annual growth of 17% based on the midpoint of its full-year 2021 revenue outlook (pegged at $2.25 billion).

Maybe you're scoffing at the idea of clogs reaching such epic proportions. But some may have felt the same way a long time ago about sneakers becoming a day-to-day footwear option outside of sporting events. Could Crocs' ambitious projections come true? Here are three reasons why they might, plus some considerations for whether or not you should jump aboard the Crocs train.

A pair of Crocs and a pair of sandals on the beach.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Comfortable and casual first

Crocs organizes its footwear into three basic categories: clogs, sandals, and personalized shoes (charms called Jibbitz can be attached to Crocs, and design collaborations with celebrities and influencers are on the rise). Digital sales and direct-to-consumer relationships via its own channels are areas of focus (more on that in a moment), but comfort is ultimately the name of the game here.

The casual style movement certainly works in the company's favor. Athleisure -- athletic wear for all occasions -- went mainstream over the last decade, but the pandemic has shifted everyday apparel to an even more casual and comfortable extreme, creating a type of "stay-at-home fashion" that champions utilitarianism and comfort above all else. And that's where Crocs shines. Trailing 12-month sales have soared over 50% since the start of 2020, and as the economy finds its footing once again, Crocs is finding a growing audience that wants to sport clogs for kicks. Momentum is on this shoe company's side. 

2. Crocs is winning with the right audience

Let's talk about digital sales. Crocs' online business is already a strength with some 37% of its total revenue coming from digital channels. But by the end of the next five-year stretch, management intends to generate no less than 50% of total revenue from an online format. 

A customer base that skews younger will certainly help with this digital expansion, but direct online relationships with fans will help drive growth in other areas too. Sandals are a small part of the company's business, but Crocs hopes its sandal business will be at least four times larger in five years than it is today. Direct marketing via its online store and social media will be key in driving awareness of this category to an already loyal fan base. And with some $30 billion in annual sandal sales up for grabs, only a small slice of that pie would represent significant growth for Crocs.

3. Significant expansion available from Asia

Crocs has a sizable global presence with selling operations in 80 countries. But Asia -- China in particular -- is mostly untouched territory for the company. While many of its shoe company peers derive approximately 20% of revenue from China, Crocs sources less than 5% of sales from the world's most populous nation. 

Management will be leaning into what it already does best -- comfy shoes and customized looks to allow for personal expression, all delivered in an online format -- to accelerate its expansion in this region. While this strategy isn't unique (what consumer goods company isn't trying to capture China's attention?), I think the Crocs product could have special appeal in China, Southeast Asia, and India. Lifestyles are especially busy in those countries, and practical shoes and sandals are already a staple for daily needs. With its affordable price points, Crocs certainly has a lot to gain. Of the 17% overall average revenue growth it hopes to realize over the next five years, Crocs' top team thinks Asia will outpace its other markets and grow an average of 30% per year to eventually make up 25% of sales. 

Is the stock a buy?

Along with this potential pace of growth, Crocs thinks it will manage at least a 26% adjusted operating profit margin over the next five years. Shares currently trade for nearly 24 times trailing 12-month free cash flow, a premium compared to the average shoe and accessory company. But if Crocs delivers on its top- and bottom-line ambitions, this shoe stock is a long-term value.

Personally, I'm in wait-and-see mode at the moment. But if the company continues to lap its pandemic-era sales boom while maintaining a double-digit pace of growth the rest of this year and into 2022, the comfy clogs movement could be for real. Stay tuned.