In the fast-paced world of footwear and fashion, few mass-market brands have managed to leave an indelible mark quite like Skechers. A name synonymous with innovation, style, and performance, Skechers has become a global phenomenon. Behind the scenes of its Southeast Asia success story is Zann Lee, a powerhouse with 24 years of experience in sales and retail, currently serving as the managing director of Skechers Southeast Asia. A visionary leader based in Singapore, Lee has been a driving for
ng force behind Skechers’ unprecedented 35-fold business growth in recent years, transforming the brand from a modest presence to a regional powerhouse. From successful collaborations with iconic franchises like One Piece and We Bare Bears to navigating the complexities of the Malaysian market, Lee’s story is one of leadership, resilience, and the relentless pursuit of excellence. Key milestones In Lee’s 15-year journey with Skechers in Southeast Asia, the company has achieved significant milestones by strategically entering new markets and establishing a robust retail network. “Our current store count stands at 755, and we aspire to surpass 1000 stores in the Southeast Asia region within the next two years,” she told Inside Retail. She went on to say that the company has successfully expanded its presence from a single country to encompass a total of seven countries in Southeast Asia (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, Myanmar, and Cambodia), in addition to establishing a strong foothold in Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh. “However, the journey hasn’t been without its challenges. Adapting to diverse consumer preferences has been an ongoing challenge, and overcoming this hurdle has required continuous innovation,” she added. This has included successfully navigating through both financial challenges and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Evolving strategies Lee said the remarkable business growth at Skechers can be attributed to a multi-faceted approach. “Our strategies include strategic retail expansion, introducing innovative products, and forming collaborations with like-minded brands,” she noted. Additionally, she mentioned that the company’s agile approach to e-commerce and staying ahead in the digital landscape have been key factors in aligning its strategies with the dynamic shifts in the footwear industry, ensuring sustained growth and relevance. This has included effectively orchestrating marketing and grassroots community events, including workshops and friendship walks, to foster engagement and connectivity. A perfect example of this was the recent grand opening of the brand’s new store at the Exchange TRX mall featuring regional brand ambassador Cha Eun-woo. “Brand endorsements, such as the grand opening featuring Cha Eun-woo, contribute significantly to Skechers’ brand identity. These partnerships go beyond a mere marketing strategy; they infuse excitement and cultural relevance into our brand, resonating with diverse audiences,” she said. Creating memorable experiences Lee believes that the impact on market engagement is substantial, creating memorable experiences that extend beyond the products themselves. “Such collaborations play a vital role in positioning Skechers as not just a footwear choice but a lifestyle brand, fostering a deeper connection with our consumers,” she noted. Lee said that Cha Eun-woo seamlessly embodies its brand persona, enhancing Skechers’ appeal to both his dedicated fan base and a younger audience, thereby contributing to the elevation of overall brand awareness. Collaborations with popular franchises such as One Piece and We Bare Bears have also been quite popular. According to Lee, these collaborations were a result of careful curation aligning with its brand directions. “These partnerships play a pivotal role in our product and marketing efforts, driving innovation and cultural relevance. By associating with well-loved franchises, we enhance our brand visibility and create a buzz in the market,” she added. According to her, these collaborations are integral components of Skechers’ overall marketing and branding strategy and help the company reach a different set of target audiences, ensuring it appeals to Gen Z and Gen Alpha consumers. The Malaysian market Lee said that thriving in the Malaysian market has required a nuanced approach, and Skechers has employed unique strategies to connect with consumers successfully. “Adaptive strategies involve tailoring our product offerings to align with local preferences, ensuring that our designs resonate with the cultural nuances of the Malaysian market,” she noted. Community-based initiatives, like the Skechers Friendship Walk and Pickleball Competition, have not only solidified its brand presence but have also created a sense of inclusivity. “Understanding and respecting unique cultural aspects are integral to our success, ensuring that Skechers remains relatable and resonates authentically with local consumers,” she said. Lee revealed that Skechers’ local ambassador in Malaysia, Ayda Jebat, played a pivotal role in its marketing strategy, which employs a multi-pronged approach, including KOL collaborations and strategic media buys, aimed at reaching diverse ethnic groups. “Additionally, we are strategically planning expansion into Tier 2 locations, such as Labuan. Furthermore, our upcoming apparel range will feature a dedicated line of hijab accessories designed for performance wear,” she concluded.