We Are Evaluating Manufacturing Outside India: CEO, Skechers South Asia Pvt. Ltd

American performance and lifestyle footwear brand Skechers has announced the first edition of Skechers Performance Mumbai Walkathon. The consumer engagement initiative by Skechers India, will take place on World Walking Day (October 7) to educate people about the benefits of walking.

The brand is targeting to become an Rs 1,000 crore brand in the next five years in India and has been ramping up its presence by constantly expanding their portfolio to further up their omni-channel presence. Rahul Vira, Chief Executive Office, Skechers South Asia Pvt. Ltd in an exclusive interview with exchange4media spoke about major areas the brand is investing in, the challenges that come with manufacturing and consumer behavioural trends that Skechers is tapping onto.

Below are the edited excerpts:

Why the Walkathon? How does the brand benefit from such properties?

Since we created this category of walking/ footwear, we realised that while everyone does marathon, none do a 'Walkathon'. As a brand since we have created this category and hold a leadership position, we thought to ourselves that we should create a platform for people to come and walk together.

There is a lot of positive rub-off with these properties. And there are a lot of latent things happening with consumers, so while we are connecting directly and talking to them directly, these things do help with creating that engagement indirectly.

You’ve recently started your own portal. Tell us about how getting to omni-channel has panned out for the brand?

Our online portal is just at the beginning stage. It will take a while for us to put things together. Here there are many parameters to put together. At the end of the day if a consumer is not getting a seamless experience, all this doesn’t mean anything. The idea is whenever we go out, we ensure a seamless experience for the consumer.

What are your thoughts on manufacturing in India? Do you think of it as a challenge?

I would not say that it is a challenge. It is just that in our scheme of things, we have been evaluating looking at manufacturing out of India. It’s just that in the initial stages we were small because we had just started off. I think that over a period of time, we would definitely look making it work in India.

What is Skechers’ year-on-year India growth?

I would just say it is crazy double-digit growth.

How much does e-commerce contribute to your sales?

It contributes to 5 per cent of our sales.

What are the consumer behavioural trends that Skechers is seeing? And how is it being used for your brand-building?

From a consumer trend perspective, there are certain global trends that Indian consumers are looking at. One of the interesting things that we realised is Indian consumers have started looking at footwear in a more research manner. They have started thinking that for walking they need a different shoe, for running they need a different shoe. There is a lot of information that consumers have imbibed and we have seen it in the spends and preferences whenever they have come to purchase.

Any plans in terms of further expanding your product portfolio?

Here we have shoes, apparels, accessories, shoe care and whole lot of stuff happening.

What are the major areas the brand is investing in?

We’re investing in creating these properties like Walkathon. There is a lot of consumer-engagement activities that we’re doing. In the running category, we conducted an activation. For fashion, there is another property we are looking at. I think that across all the spaces, we’re looking at creating properties to engage the consumers.

Leading advertisers are taking digital media buying in-house. What are your thoughts on this? Is this sustainable? If yes, will Skechers adopt this?

We have agencies on-board to help us through it because as a company, I would rather focus my energies on the brand-building part of it. There are experts who understand this and we would rely on them cause of their domain expertise. For us, it’s more of the outsource part of it. Agencies help us with it.

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