The most unexpected invite I’ve ever gotten for a sporting event is perhaps the Lazada Run. Okay, no, the most unexpected invite I’ve ever gotten for a sporting event was for the Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling Competition (where hundreds of participants roll down a hill to be the first to get their hands on a wheel of cheese – Google it, it’s bonkers) in Gloucestershire, UK. But Lazada Run is a close second – not because it has the kind of absurd novelty that the former has, but because it’s unexpected. A Lazada Run is like a Louis Vuitton Chemistry Set – not entirely implausible, but not exactly within the brand’s DNA either. Or so I thought.
If you were there at Marina Barrage on the morning of 23 July, you might, like me, change your mind very quickly. Lazada Run was a resounding success. There was a vibrant, bustling Race Village featuring food and beverage stalls, as well as showcase booths by Lazada brand partners, LazBeauty and RedMart. A stage provided entertainment for guests. The route was scenic, starting at Marina Barrage, past the verdant vistas of the Bayfront Area, and East Coast Park for longer distances. It attracted 7,000 people, who took part in 5km, 10km and half-marathon (21km) races. Non-runners came in the droves as well, simply to take in the atmosphere, participate in the festivities and take their Lazada shopping experience IRL.
Lazada Run in Singapore came a full three months after Vietnam’s Lazada Run on 23 April this year. The Vietnam run would be the first leg in a series of Lazada Runs across Southeast Asia, with runs also held in Indonesia, Thailand, The Philippines and Malaysia.
It is also a smart move – Lazada is competing in a very crowded e-commerce marketplace, going up against the likes of Tokopedia and Bukalapak, on top of more established international players such as Amazon and Shopee. A series of runs in its major markets raises visibility and directly engages its customer base, as compared to indirect, in-platform strategies. It gives the brand a more tangible presence – something e-commerce platforms, by their very nature, tend to lack.
Augustman had the distinct pleasure to speak to one of the people behind Lazada Run – Marcus Chew. He has been Lazada Group Chief Marketing Officer since October 2021, after serving as Chief Marketing Officer at Income Insurance Limited for nearly seven years. He has also had stints at Adidas, Unilever and Sime Darby. In e-commerce, Chew has seen it evolve through the years. He graduated with a Bachelor of Business from Western Australia’s Edith Cowan University, majoring in marketing and e-commerce back in 2000, when e-commerce was not the global phenomena it is today. Chew’s knowledge and experience is vital in the digital age, and we learnt a lot from our conversation with the 48-year-old.
AM: Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer this. First off, tell me about the thinking behind the Lazada Run. What went on behind the scenes that led to its conception?
Marcus Chew: At Lazada, we’re not just confined to the digital world. We seek innovative ways to connect with our customers. At Lazada, we believe whatever you add to your cart on our platform, you are adding to your life; in the case of Lazada Run, you are adding fitness to your life. Lazada Run is a testament to our commitment to ‘Add Fitness to Life’ for consumers in the region by providing our customers with fun, meaningful and interactive experiences.
I personally have a passion for long-distance running, and that also contributed to shaping the vision behind Lazada Run when we brainstormed the unique and interactive ways we could bring to life this multi-country run, which is also the first of its kind organised by an eCommerce platform in the region. We knew we wanted to deliver an unforgettable race experience to Southeast Asia, that was also strongly rooted to the Lazada brand and our identity as an eCommerce pioneer in this region. We are always exploring new and authentic avenues to connect deeply with our customers, driven by our passion for making a real impact in their lives.
The Lazada Run is, to some, unexpected, because Lazada is not exactly top-of-mind when it comes to fitness. Why a run? There are many brand-driven events that you guys could have done.
I think Lazada has come a long way, transcending beyond simply an eCommerce platform into a lifestyle destination that consumers now turn to for enjoyable experiences and trend discovery, and now our consumers’ fitness pursuits. We have been growing our fitness category over the years, and Lazada Run is one of our expressions of fitness that transcends beyond sports; it includes gadgets, nutrition, equipment, apparel, footwear and even beauty product like sunscreen. We’re constantly innovating to deliver more meaningful experiences that add to the lives of our consumers. And with the increasing health and fitness interest in Southeast Asia especially after the pandemic, we saw this opportunity to really add value to our consumers’ lives and well-being through Lazada Run.
The Lazada Run event also holds many fun and interactive elements that enable us and our brand partners to really engage with our consumers in an offline-to-online way that is uniquely Lazada. There is a whole Lazada Run Race Village at the Marina Barrage with family-friendly activities like a Zumba workout and various showcase booths by our brand partners, LazBeauty, and RedMart that public can enjoy to name a few. To add to the fun, race participants can even chase after ‘human running vouchers’ to capture more attractive vouchers!
You’re an Abbott World Marathon Majors Six Star Medallist. Has long-distance running always been part of who you are?
Long-distance running is a significant part of my personal journey and passion, teaching me valuable life lessons. Through long-distance running, I’ve gained resilience, perseverance and faith. At the Tokyo marathon, around the 17km mark, exhaustion and doubt crept in. But I reminded myself that it was okay to slow down and go at my own pace. Surprisingly, pushing through that mental barrier not only rejuvenated me, but also led me to achieve a personal best.
This experience taught me a valuable lesson on perseverance: never give up, even in tough times. Challenges pass, and brighter moments await, influencing how I approach life beyond the race course.
While I’m proud of being an Abbott World Marathon Majors Six Star Medallist, it’s the transformative power of long-distance running that truly defines me. It has shaped my character, instilled determination, and unveiled the importance of resilience. Long-distance running holds a special place in my heart, going beyond fitness, as it helps me to rediscover my own potential and empowers me to find strength in the face of adversity.
You definitely have a busy job. How do you find the time to keep your mileage up?
I’ve always had a passion for running, but as an adult, it has become a vital source of relaxation and rejuvenation for me. It’s amazing how hitting the pavement can clear my mind, keep me active, and boost my energy levels.
Juggling my running routine alongside life’s many commitments can be challenging. But I make it a top priority because I firmly believe that investing time in physical activity enhances not only my personal well-being but also my professional performance. I believe an active mind cannot exist in an inactive body. It helps me stay focused, handle stress, and approach my work with a fresh perspective.
Setting goals has also been crucial. I’ve set my sights on becoming a Six Star Finisher for the World Marathon Majors, and that keeps me motivated and disciplined on carving out pockets of time for my training in spite of a busy schedule. I do this by strategically planning my days between work commitments and fitting in my running routine, whether that involves waking up early or maximising my evenings.
As Chief Marketing Officer, you’re responsible for a lot of the things that determine how Lazada appears to its external stakeholders. How do you stand out in an industry with big name players such as Amazon and Shopee?
Lazada’s strong presence as a pioneer of eCommerce in Southeast Asia gives us a deep understanding of the region’s diverse cultures, preferences, and consumer behaviours. We leverage this knowledge to tailor our marketing strategies and offerings specifically to the needs and interests of each market.
Being at the forefront of innovation in the eCommerce industry, our logistics capabilities and partnerships with top brands and sellers also enable us to bring a wide assortment catering to the demands of our consumers in this region and forge stronger relationship with them. We’ve also continuously spearheaded new ways to enhance the shopping experience by tailoring it to consumers evolving needs, through features like livestreams on LazLive, LazMall Store Membership Program, and interactive events like Lazada Run to ultimately offer an enjoyable and seamless online shopping experience to our customers.