As a member of the ISPO AWARD jury, Rene Gorissen has spent weeks examining numerous new developments and critically reviewing their use value for customers before the new products are presented at ISPO Munich. (Read about who in the jury does the testing and how comprehensive the testing is here)
ISPO.com: Every season, the sports industry offers an unimaginable number of products. Do you have any tips for how someone as a consumer can keep an overview?
Rene Gorissen: Sophisticated specialty sports retail can render a valuable contribution in orientation via a good product range formation, but also through consultation and testing opportunities. In addition, product tests from relevant, and above all objective sources like blogs and trade papers can support the end consumer in their selections.
Product tests definitely have a big influence on the purchase decision. What are your experiences there?
That’s definitely correct. Customers inquire very specifically after test winners. The big tests by the Stiftung Warentest or the ADAC are frequently named in this area. Both institutions understand how to make their test results known beyond their own platforms, and thus achieve an enormously broad impact.
If you as an athlete follow brands’ communication, you could get the impression that there are new product innovations every year. When does a new purchase actually make sense for me?
That’s the beautiful thing about our industry. There really is always something new. How important these innovations are for individuals is something every person has to decide for themselves. Everyone practices sports in such different ways that sometimes the smallest innovations can offer the individual real benefits.
Sports retail: Good sales are consultants
Well-founded consultation by the sporting goods sales staff does play a big role in the decision-making process, too. How do I as a customer recognize a good salesperson?
We see our sales staff more as consultants. In the interest of the customer, we also accept advising them against a new purchase if it isn’t at all necessary in our judgement. Good sales consultants will do a specific demand analysis. In doing so, they find out what the customer wants to achieve with the new purchase and where the product needs to support them. After that kind of analysis, the consultant determines the right product for the customer. The basis for this kind of well-founded demand analysis is some experience by the consultant in the corresponding sport on one hand, but of course also well-founded knowledge of the market, the brands, and the products with all of their innovations.
Through digitalization, I as a consumer can learn about products any time, anywhere and verify or refute the salesperson’s statements. How do you react in stationary retail to these changing framework conditions?
We support our sales consultants in their sales pitches more and more with the use of iPads. That way, they can access additional information at any time using a proprietary, in-store app. This goes beyond pure product information, because we can also access availabilities directly in the sales pitch, process loyalty cards, create service orders, and offer various delivery options.
Communication at the POS needs to become clearer
In addition to test results, quality seals and awards should also give the shopper some orientation. Do consumers actually notice these awards in practice?
Yes, they notice these awards. This is where, as with lots of additional information, it comes down to the visibility of the presentation at the POS. With the multitude of hang tags that are often attached to products, individual information for the customer can sometimes get lost in the shuffle.
Should brands advertise more heavily with their test results, awards, and quality seals?
Yes and no; an excessive amount of different awards and quality seals can in turn make it difficult for the customer to recognize which results are actually objective.
Which awards do you think make for the highest acceptance with consumers?
As already mentioned above, in my opinion there’s a difference between acceptance and wide appeal. We’re still seeing the biggest impact with results of the Stiftung Warentest.
Why is that the case?
The Stiftung Warentest understands how to broadly display the results over all kinds of channels like TV, print, and digital, and thus also achieves the highest “acceptance” with the end consumer.
The ISPO AWARD offers valuable orientation
In your experience, what weight does the ISPO AWARD have in this context?
The ISPO Award is, in my opinion, applied very well as a marketing tool towards the specialist audience at the trade fair itself. There, it offers both the retailers and the journalists at the trade fair a very valuable orientation. The presence of the distinguished products in the press is tremendous after the trade fair.
An effect on the end consumer definitely needs to be developed even more heavily. But this also demands the manufacturers themselves, who could communicate their ISPO AWARD to the consumer even more clearly and effectively at the POS.