Product Development: Finding Innovative Solutions to the Problems of Consumers

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The development of innovative new products is an important fuel
for the success of the sports industry. We have asked well-known companies for their recipes for success.

Investing in innovation pays off

Mountain sports specialist Blackyak even has its own lab in Munich's Leopoldstraße, where the innovations of the future are developed. Up to 25 experts work here to develop new products under the motto "Design follows function". „For precise solutions, it is important to deal intensively with the product, and we are supported by a team of athletes like Jost Kobusch or Adam Bielecki and other specialists," reports Maximilian Nortz, Managing Director International Business at Blackyak, in an interview with

Help the Customer

The investment in innovation pays off: With 26 ISPO Awards The South Korean outdoor specialist holds a record for new products. The coveted industry awards are an important confirmation of his work, and there are also other incentives for the product developers. "Ideally, you can offer the consumer a novel solution to a problem," says Andreas Settele, Head of Development at Hanwag.

For example, the Bavarian mountaineering shoe specialist is particularly proud of its patented Tubetec sole, in which a particularly soft and cushioning material is used. For the hiker, this means a new comfort experience in the outdoor area. At Blackyak, the Bakosi Jacket, which is equipped with various insulation zones, is considered a significant improvement for the consumer. "For us, the greatest success is when we see that a new product works exactly as we planned on the mountain," says Nortz.

Even Save Lives With Innovations

The Bavarian mountain safety specialist Ortovox has helped shape the development of a whole new industry with its innovations and has saved many lives with its avalanche transceivers, for example. "In 1980, Ortovox developed the first avalanche transceiver that was able to process all the different transmission frequencies in Europe, thus laying the foundation for today's generation of devices. A further milestone was the introduction of the Avabag avalanche airbag series with an extremely light and highly functional airbag backpack product", Patrick Wesch, Product Manager Safety, names some important innovations from Ortovox.

"Those who develop sports products should be passionate about this sport themselves", says Ortovox.
Image credit:
Hansi Heckmair

Product Development as a Team Effort

Here, too, the secret of success: orientation to the problems and wishes of the users. "Those who develop sports products should be passionate about the sport themselves and also have a good network of users in every performance class. And if a product goal is clear, then successful development is a team effort! Product managers, designers, developers, material specialists and prototype builders should be part of a team that is led to the goal by a good project plan," says Wesch. Hanwag's head of development Settele also mentions feedback from high-profile retailers and from social media as important factors in the development of innovations in the sports sector.

According to Wesch, what is particularly important is the willingness "to perceive and accept the changes in sport, society, the environment and many other things, and to respond to them with a clear vision. Product developers must also always remain open to new, unusual or unusual things. It is important, as Maximilian Nortz adds, to "look beyond the end of their nose".

Product developers solve problems
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Setting Trends, Not Panting After Trends

For Andreas Settele, one of the no-go's in the development of innovative products is "to concentrate on competitors and only adapt new products". Nortz considers it important not to constantly chase after current trends and to present products only when they are 100 percent ready for the market: "One should also not only think in seasonal product cycles, but rather develop products that work 365 days a year."

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