Image credit:
Dirk Spath
Die ISPO Award Jury
Image credit:
Dirk Spath

60 Products, 6 Experts, 2 Days: This Is What the ISPO Award Jury Meeting Was Like

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Sustainability, digitalization, health and easy entry - these are the big trends in the sports industry! Exactly in this direction are also the products that have applied for an ISPO Award in 2022. As every quarter, the expert jury met to select their favorites from the current submissions. 60 products, 6 experts*innen and 2 days time: A sweaty jury meeting with lots of insight.

Outdoors the summer held entry, inside the heads smoked. In Munich's SportScheck all-weather facility, six experts* had eyes only for 60 submitted products from the sports industry, which made it through the screening of numerous applications into the next round. Long rows of tables, all packed with a wide variety of new products to be examined in detail. Among them: Clothing, tents, backpacks, hiking poles, sleds and water filters in the most diverse variations. All innovations had to be tried on, assembled, tested and, above all, discussed. Because over all circled the difficult question: Does the product have what it takes to ISPO Award?

Brand Strategist Christoph Beaufils testet gemeinsam mit der Jury einen neuen Rucksack
Brand Strategist Christoph Beaufils tests a new backpack together with the jury
Image credit:
Dirk Spath

Expert Jury of Professionals and Consumer Experts

To reach the goal together: In the new concept of the ISPO Awards, the jury is made up of two groups of experts. Once the ISPO experts, with magazine maker and snowboard veteran Andi Spies and outdoor journalist and professor of sports journalism & digitization in sports, Martina Wengenmeir and textile expert and trade journalist Regina Henkel. The team was again supported by three sports enthusiasts from the ISPO Collaborators Club. These included Monika Frenger, a sports lecturer at Saarland University and active competitive triathlete and winter athlete. Jens Häußler, sports economist and Head of Sponsoring at Siemens, a multi-sport athlete and former MTB professional, was also present at the judging. The third member of the group: Lukas Ollert, reigning German Men's 30 Tennis Champion and active tennis coach, also contributed his perspective to the evaluation of the products. The aim is to reflect the view of consumers through the Collaborators in the judging process. And what prompted the Collaborators to apply to be a jury member? Monika Frenger: "Although I do not work in the product area, but I am always involved with products in the exchange with my students, so I am interested in what innovations and trends the industry has."

Trends: Sustainability, Weight, Digitalization, Health and Easy Entry

And which trends do the submitted, new products now represent? "For me, two dominant trends are crystallizing," says juror Andi Spies. The first trend is the topic of sustainability. "Here, textiles made of mono-material and functional clothing that is fully compostable are the benchmark. The longevity of the products also pays off in terms of sustainability. From this point of view, even a supposedly high price is quite justified," says Spies. The second trend relates to the issue of weight, which is playing an increasingly important role for many manufacturers. Spies: "From very lightweight headlamps to featherweight trail running shoes. Lightweight products improve usability in almost every sport and are therefore a real added value for all athletes." The topic of digitalization is also becoming more present, and not just in typical devices such as watches or fitness bands. "More and more digital features and sensors are finding their way into products - from water bottles to Nordic walking poles," says juror Martina Wengenmeir.

Furthermore, it shows that sports must not always be driven by performance. Thus some products could be assigned also to the topic health and Easy Entry: "Low-threshold offers and products that are aimed at beginners and facilitate access to sports are becoming increasingly important in perspective," all jurors agreed.

New Award Concept Focuses on Quality and Relevance of Products

The ISPO Award is awarded flexibly at the winner's desired time - no matter when the winner wishes it. To accomplish this, the jury meets quarterly. Each product was evaluated along various criteria. These include sustainability, innovation, functionality, design and more. The higher the score achieved, the more certain the award. A short video submitted by the brands for the application explains the product idea to the judges, along with detailed descriptions. "The more comprehensive and concrete the video and description are, the better the jurors can make their decisions," said Christina Rabl, Project Manager ISPO Collaborators Club / ISPO Award. Unlike the previous ISPO Award, where a large plethora of different sports products had to fit into a few categories, the new award concept is about evaluating the product as such based on defined criteria. There are also no longer different levels, for example gold or silver. "All that counts is the quality of the product and its relevance to the market," explains Christoph Beaufils, brand strategist at the ISPO Group and co-developer of the new award concept.

Fun Factor: Bubble Soccer and Paddle Tennis

A jury meeting completely without active sports? Of course not! Instead of smoking heads, there were rolling bubbles at times. With the Bubble Soccer, a fun sport, with which the entire body disappears up to the legs in a transparent ball, in order to play then somewhat clumsily however fall-safe soccer, everyone came into sweating. Here showed the true soccer talents. 

Later, we moved on to paddle tennis, a trendy sport from Mexico that is gaining a foothold in Europe. "In countries like Spain, paddle tennis is already bigger than classic tennis," Christoph Beaufils knows. In paddle tennis, you use other rackets than in tennis, also the walls play along - similar to squash.

Fußballspielen mit der ISPO Award Jury
Playing soccer in a different way: between jury sessions it got sporty
Image credit:
Dirk Spath

The Next Jury Meeting Will Be in September

Brands can apply for an ISPO Award four times a year. The winners are presented, among other things, in the form of a review report on at the desired time of the respective winner. The trade fair at which he is exhibited with his innovation can also be freely selected.  A large number previous winners will be presented at the ISPO Award Exhibition at OutDoor by ISPO on 12. June 14, 2022 to be presented. The next ISPO Award winners will be determined in September.