Posted on: 6/5/2023

What’s up in APAC?


Consumer brands are seizing growth opportunities by evolving their leadership capabilities in the region.

The APAC region continues to present considerable growth opportunities for brands spanning diverse consumer sectors, including lifestyle, fashion, luxury, and sporting goods. The IMF projects growth in APAC to increase this year to 4.6%, from 3.8% in 2022, meaning that the region would contribute around 70% of global growth.

To tap into this potential, brands are recognising the need to adapt their leadership capabilities and expertise. This shift is driving an increased demand for regional C- and VP-level executives, creating a significant hiring trend.

Within the region, China stands out as the largest market with its unique dynamics. To drive growth in this market, brands are adopting a direct-to-consumer (DTC) focus, leveraging e-commerce and experiential retail in key Tier 1, 2, and 3 cities. Local language proficiency and a deep understanding of the technology landscape are crucial for executives to be successful in this market.

Since the reopening of China’s borders following the pandemic, Chinese consumers have resumed traveling, leading to a projected shift of revenue generated by luxury and premium brands in China back towards tourist destinations in Europe, the Middle East, and North America.

Beyond China, the APAC region offers a diverse range of markets, each with its own maturity, potential, and consumer needs. Brands must tailor their strategies and capabilities accordingly. For instance, Thailand has emerged as a favoured shopping destination for high-net-worth individuals, especially Russians. In Korea, growth and sophistication are driven by the popularity of Korean entertainment content on a global scale.

Historically, regional leadership teams focused on managing distributors across different markets. However, as these markets mature and significant growth opportunities arise, new business and leadership capabilities are required that are more akin to those that drive growth in Europe and North America. These include a strong emphasis on DTC, encompassing e-commerce and experiential retail, effective omnichannel marketplace management, digital marketing and selling, insight-driven decision-making, brand marketing, clienteling, influencer and celebrity engagement, and the establishment and management of owned-and-operated markets.

In addition, building enterprise leadership capabilities is crucial for creating a consumer-facing culture. Successful brands in APAC will prioritise fostering a leadership culture that embraces continuous innovation and customer-centricity.

As brands navigate the ever-evolving APAC market, it is evident that attracting, inspiring, and developing strong leadership talent becomes the competitive advantage in a region where the new type of leadership profiles needed are scarce. Seizing growth opportunities requires a proactive and adaptable approach.

SRI emerges the go-to executive search firm because of our strong presence and track record in the region. Our insight-led, agile, and highly collaborative approach positions us strongly in the market to partner with the hiring executives for APAC leadership roles who direct and oversee the growth in the region from head offices in Europe and North America. We deeply understand the leadership profiles that brands need to drive growth and value creation and have a strong network to deliver exceptional hires in the region.


Carola Frisch

Managing Partner, Global Consumer