"Direct With Consumer Is the New D2C"

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To be close to the pulse, to be the first to test products and to influence them together with your favorite brand? Sounds like a dream? Not in the ISPO Collaborators Club. True to the motto "Direct with consumer" brands work closely with sports consumers. It's like a live test before the market is conquered. Brands collect positive and negative feedback, while sports fans can test and evaluate products free of charge. Win-win for everyone, right? Yes - At least that's what the latest test by O'Neill and Polygiene proves.

Tester ninadoodle trying out the collection of O'Neill and Polygiene.

Sports enthusiasts meet brands and companies from the scene: In the ISPO Collaborators Club, people exchange ideas, network, and, above all, show mutual appreciation. Today's brands know how important it is to be close to the end consumer. Gone are the days when brands only presented consumers with more products. Keyword: Away from "Direct to consumer" to "Direct with consumer". The interest is too great, customers are too close to companies and brands through social media and digitalization. As a result, they want to have an influence, to be involved in the idea, development and offer.

Developing products together with brands? Sounds almost too good to be true. While the market is still looking for its possibilities, the ISPO Collaborators Club already has its finger on the pulse. Here, the focus is not only on consumer centricity, but also on collaboration between brands and consumers.

Smart Brands Work Closely With End Consumers

Like the Collaborators Club Brand Test. Here, brands have the opportunity to present their products directly to sports enthusiasts for the first time. Honest feedback, arguments for and against a purchase included. This can be painful, but above all enriching. When end consumers find clear words for their needs, their enthusiasm and their challenges with the product.

Christoph Rapp, International Sales & Retail Manager and responsible for the ISPO Collaborators Club, knows why the concept of the Brand Test is unique: "Brands that focus on consumer centricity and collaborate with consumers are smart. Because that's when they already collect arguments for retailers as to why their product will be the high-flyer on the market."

Gathering Arguments for Activewear With the Humanity Factor

And O'Neill recently collected them together with Polygiene in the ISPO Collaborators Club. The surf brand wanted to find out how its new activewear collection for spring/summer 2022 would be received by customers. Because: In the current collection, the company is collaborating with the Swedish technology professionals from Polygiene. The activewear has been treated with Polygiene BioStatic technology, which prevents the growth of odor-causing bacteria. Or also: the sweat makes the Garaus. The promise is absolute freshness even after repeated wear - and that without washing, just by hanging them out in the fresh air to dry.

Anyone who plays sports knows that sweat, blood and tears are not empty phrases, but (smelly) facts. Or just as well: human.

A product that recognizes humanity and aligns its performance with it is the right product for sports enthusiasts. What could be better than a garment that keeps the athlete from being stale, or even helps the body to show off the human side as non-chalantly as possible. In short, it would be the perfect product.

Without Pongs Through the Product Test?

Can O'Neill deliver what it promises with Polygiene? The members of the ISPO Collaborators Club sports and outdoor community were able to see for themselves in recent months. The testers with an affinity for surfing and fitness were provided with a complete training outfit for women free of charge. Wearing both short and long training pants, a swim-to-gym top, and a sports tankini from O'Neill, they went into the hot test phase - from the end of April to the beginning of June. The comments section of the ISPO Collaborators Club then provided honest feedback directly to O'Neill and Polygiene - from the design of the outfits to their assessment of fit and performance.

"The design and colors are an absolute stunner. I got a lot of feedback from others wanting to know where I bought it," said the tester with the username "Butterfly Camel." "For water sports I choose the shorts and top, for yoga and fitness I choose the nice leggings. Everything fits very comfortably and the feel is very cozy. I could do all the exercises without my outfit slipping."

And the anti-odor technology? It delivers what it promises - despite intense workouts. "The properties of the Polygiene-treated material are really impressive. I wore my outfit very often without washing and it was amazing how long it stayed fresh. Sometimes I wore my outfit five times without washing," praises the tester.

Functionality is also a top priority for Polygiene
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Odorless Even Under the Wetsuit

"Drying outdoors is important, but afterwards the pieces just don't smell at all," adds tester "st_aleks": "Normally I only know this from natural fibers like merino wool, but it really works."

The innovation has also proven itself under more difficult conditions, as an outfit under the wetsuit, as tester "F. Hoell" reports: "After wearing it under the wetsuit, I actually didn't have to wash it in a week. Really good! Normally I know it so that under the Neo the bikinis start to smell a bit from two to three days, but in my week that was not the case at any time."

Remarkably, the polygiene technology was convincing. Not a single tester literally turned up her nose.

Schmetterlingskamel is resource-saving and fashionable on the road with O'Neill and Polygiene
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O'Neill: "Feedback is Implemented Directly"

For the brands, the test with the ISPO Collaborators Club community was worthwhile. Joffrey Delfgaauw, Head of Design and Buying at O'Neill, says, "It was very insightful to get the detailed feedback from the ISPO Collaborators Club testers." And, "We will directly implement some of the feedback to keep improving our products for next season."

Polygiene was also enthusiastic: "The ISPO Collaborators Club is an excellent platform for direct exchange with consumers, which is very important to us. Only when the user knows and exploits the full benefits of Polygiene technology can all the benefits of invisible technology be fully realized," said Eva Doll, Customer Experience Manager EMEA at Polygiene.

Breaking Down Barriers Between Fire and Customer

Looking behind the scenes, being close to the action, exerting influence - collaborators are people who know the importance of sports, and therefore good products, in life. And that's exactly why it's so important for them to gain an insight into the industry and product development. Not only brands, but also end consumers with a passion for sports are striving to develop themselves further and try out new things. Companies that recognize this and are close to their customers not only show a spirit of innovation, but also an appreciation for their customers.

Or as Christoph Beaufils, Brand Strategist at the ISPO Group, puts it: "It's time for brands to finally break down the barriers between brand and consumer." The ISPO Collaborators Club makes it happen.

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