Over the weekend, Jordan Spieth won the U.S. Open in a tournament that came down to the last shot. In just two years, Spieth has made a name for himself by winning two majors and becoming the #2 golfer in the world at only 21 years old. Strangely enough, ‘Spieth’ was not the golf-related name I was Googling after the tournament finished.
Who was I looking up? Skechers. The shoe company flooded the U.S. Open commercial time with “Golf Tips from Matt Kuchar.” In the commercials, Kuchar would say something like:
“Here are a couple of pointers to improve your drive. First, make sure you are wearing Skechers’ Gogolf shoes–– designed for maximum comfort and stability. Then take a driver from your caddy and hit the ball about 300 yards, dead-center of the fairway. Just do that every time and you’ll be fine out there.”
Humorous, not overly complicated, and effective since I ended up looking through their shoe collection. I never knew Skechers made golf shoes; and, even if I had know, I never would have thought any professionals, especially one who is good, would wear them over the giant brands like Nike and Adidas. The shoes were very modern looking and actually pretty cool. I could see myself wearing them. So well done Skechers.
At the time, I didn’t mean this “well done” at all. In my mind I was really thinking “Well done for getting a sucker like me to search for your product without any intention of buying” and “Well done for getting someone noteworthy to endorse your product even though you have no chance of becoming a major golf shoe brand.
However, I must not have been paying close attention to fashion or marketing because that is exactly what Skechers plans to do in golf and what they have already done elsewhere in the sports footwear market. In May, Skechers became the #2 Brand for U.S. athletic footwear, jumping ahead of Adidas, Asics, and New Balance.
Establishing the Skechers Brand
I had always considered Skechers to be a second-tier shoe company that sold affordable shoes which were never too special because that was what they had been in the 2000s. How then were they able to grow into the second most consumed athletic shoe company in the U.S.? Successful rebranding.
Morgan Stanley analysts have said that Skechers’ improved presence in the market since 2010 can be attributed to a “shift from focusing on knock-offs of popular designs to establishing its own identity as a brand.” Skechers no longer wants to be the second (or third or fourth) choice for shoes. To reach their goal, they developed a branding strategy that included product development, aggressive marketing, and growth.
Recognizing that walking was becoming a bigger trend in the U.S., Skechers focused its rebranding there—creating modern and ‘fashion-casual’ shoes that didn’t look like normal running shoe. To lead their rebranding efforts in 2010, Skechers was able to get celebrity endorsements from Kim Kardashian and Joe Montana. At once, they saw a huge spike in sales.
After seeing their success as a popular walking shoe, Skechers began its campaign to be a causal shoe, running shoe, and—most recently—golf shoe brand. Each time they released a new product, they had a celebrity endorse their product. For golf, it was Matt Kuchar— a top ten ranked golfer. For running, it was Meb Keflezighi— the 2014 Boston Marathon winner. And for casual wear, they had various celebrities including Ringo Starr.
Well Done Skechers
Any company that wants to be the top dog in their respective market cannot have the mindset that what is successful for them today will also be successful for them tomorrow. They need to have a goal. The world is constantly changing and so are consumer preferences—that much is inevitable. Therefore, companies need to know what it is they are trying to do. Skechers didn’t like what they were doing and so they knew they had to change.
Rebranding a company image is never an easy thing to do. Many businesses make the mistake of trying to do too much. Saying your going to make changes and then following through with those changes is hard. It is even harder to make the changes and have successful results. When Skechers was trying to rebrand, they weren’t trying to be on a foot in every sport. They focused on one type and expanded afterwards.
Skechers has a much better idea of what they are trying to accomplish today than they did five years ago. I believe this is why they have been successful and I think other companies should take notes. Make a goal and find some way to accomplish it. And after you have, make another goal. You will be happy with the results.
P.S. I’m hoping Skechers will be focusing on their soccer shoes next because they need changes too.