After overtaking established brands like Adidas, Reebok and Puma, Skechers is now the second largest footwear company in the US, next only to Nike. The US company entered India in 2012 through a joint venture with the Future Group. It has 700 outlets in 40 cities; this includes their presence in multi-brand outlets and 20 exclusive stores. David Weinberg, chief operating officer and chief financial officer, Skechers USA, says he sees international business accounting for over half of the company’s revenues in the next few years.
Q. How has the journey been for Skechers in India?
We have had a very good experience from the perspective of our partners, the Future Group, and also in terms of the results we are starting to get. Our focus has always been international. We have a good global presence that we are looking to grow. Today international business accounts for around 35 percent of our $3 billion revenue and we anticipate it will be well in excess of 50 percent in the next few years.
Q. What differentiates Skechers from its competitors?
It is all about product, imaging and pricing. Our products are priced 5 to 20 percent less than our competitors. Our technology includes memory foam and the light-weight and colourful GO product range. Currently, consumers are moving to casual and comfortable footwear and we have all of those, more than any of our competitors.
Q. Given the presence of Nike and Adidas in India, how do you plan to take them head-on?
We don’t compare ourselves to competitors. Our strategy is to develop a brand identity, make sure the consumer knows what the brand stands for and make it aspirational. Our growth plan is aggressive. We have around 20 exclusive stores now and will have 35 to 40 mono-brand stores in India by end of 2016. For now, our focus is to increase our consumer base in India. We have plans to look into manufacturing here too.
Q. What are your expectations from the Indian market?
I expect the number of middle-class consumers to double over the next 5 to 10 years from the current 300 million. That’s the piece you want to target. So we expect significant growth. Probably of the order we saw in China, where our revenues have more than doubled in the last few years.
Q. What are the marketing initiatives you are looking at in India?
We have not planned on a brand ambassador for India. Our marketing campaigns are on social media, television and magazines. We are probably one of the biggest marketers in the world among footwear companies. We have $240 million to advertise this year and you will see it in India as we grow. We will allot over 10 percent of our ad spends to India.
Q. Has ecommerce impacted your sales?
No. We have a very big online business globally and we are big users of Amazon in the US. We had $25 million sales on ‘Singles Day’ through Amazon. In India, our ecommerce sales are small, but we are available on major ecommerce platforms.
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(This story appears in the 08 January, 2016 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)