INTERVIEW WITH ISPO DIGITIZE – QUESTIONS TO TOBIAS GRÖBER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR BUSINESS UNIT CONSUMER GOODS
The premiere of the ISPO Digitize Summit is imminent: on 28/29. June the new format opens its doors with an exciting program in the Munich congress center, the ICM. The Summit is supposed to be nothing less than a platform for the future of the sports industry – so the bar is quite high. Tobias Gröber, Executive Director Business Unit Consumer Goods, explains in an exclusive interview why this is the logical consequence of many years of development work and why ISPO, based in Munich, has a lot to say about digitization.
ECD: Mr. Gröber, on the ISPO Digitize website you are welcoming the future of the sports business – what does the future of this industry look like?
Tobias Gröber: As in many industries, the future of retail in the sports segment will look different than we know it now. It’s about new approaches to customer loyalty, opening up to new technologies and of course the intelligent linking of all the sales strategies that I have available as a brand or dealer. Just around the question: „How do I create an experience in stationary retail that goes beyond the product and takes the customer with me everywhere?“ you could already build a complete event.
At your main event, ISPO Munich, innovations and their presentation play a key role. How do you intend to transfer this “novelty show” to the Summit?
Quite simply: by focusing less on the presentation of new products from an average of 3,000 exhibitors and more on the digital user experience and on-site exchange. In terms of content, the summit follows the conference approach with lectures and workshops. Of course, it remains to be seen whether it is that easy. But we have had very good experiences of our own with the subject of “digital transformation”. As ISPO, we have been in this process ourselves since 2009. We therefore believe we know which questions are the right ones and which topics are on the minds of the industry. In the two days, therefore, top-class keynotes and workshops will play the decisive role – not so much the new products.
Digitization itself is more or less an innovation in the industry. Some brands and retailers have already taken a few steps, some are only just getting started. What is your message to the industry at the summit?
Build – Measure – Learn! I can only pass that on from my own experience. We have experienced it ourselves at ISPO, have tried a lot, had to shoot down some ideas, but as a result have accumulated experience for new things. The brands, and especially the retailers who are not there yet, have to be ready to break new ground. That always sounds so simple or abstract. Take e-sports, for example. There is great skepticism in the industry because it is not about sport in the traditional sense. In connection with the topic of digitization, however, this falls in a completely different light. It opens up new sales channels, new channels and also new technological approaches in the sense of gamification. So it means: Be open to the topics that drive customers – and especially the customers of tomorrow. I remember the year 2006 when a company called GoPro was at ISPO Munich for the first time in our start-up area ISPO Brandnew. Most of the industry participants thought: This is technology! What has a camera manufacturer lost in sports? Well, I don’t need to say much about the rest of the story. Those who opened early there ended up on a completely different level in terms of customer experience. And very quickly. Because one thing must not be forgotten: never again will development be as slow as it is today, it is getting faster and faster. So action is the order of the day! What has a camera manufacturer lost in sports? Well, I don’t need to say much about the rest of the story. Those who opened early there ended up on a completely different level in terms of customer experience. And very quickly. Because one thing must not be forgotten: never again will development be as slow as it is today, it is getting faster and faster. So action is the order of the day! What has a camera manufacturer lost in sports? Well, I don’t need to say much about the rest of the story. Those who opened early there ended up on a completely different level in terms of customer experience. And very quickly. Because one thing must not be forgotten: never again will development be as slow as it is today, it is getting faster and faster. So action is the order of the day!
The small premiere of the Digitize idea at ISPO Munich in January was a complete success. How and when did you come up with the plan to turn it into a two-day summit?
In fact, the ideas to expand the topic arose a few years ago. This year the time had come: There was the Digitize area at ISPO Munich. A great success, so the step to organize our own event was only logical for us. In addition, when you visit a trade fair, there is often little space and time left to fully devote yourself to the topic of digitization. That, too, led us to the decision to give the Digitize area its own set-up. But having our own summit does not mean that we will not continue to expand the topic on the existing platforms. On the contrary: ISPO Digitize will remain part of it.
What makes the sports industry so special in the game of stepping into the digital future – are the players brave or cautious?
I would say: after the fashion industry, which is certainly a leader in terms of speed, the sports industry follows relatively quickly. Quite simply for the reason that many consumer experts are interested in areas such as fitness, health and sport with their lifestyle. And those are consumers who get information, who are open to new things and who therefore demand a lot from brands and retailers. Seen in this way, the increasing speed of innovation in the sports and outdoor industry is largely customer-driven. And whoever has the appropriate platforms and features available to meet these requirements has an advantage. Also in the inpatient area, which plays an important role when it comes to sport.
Identification with a brand is particularly high in the sports world – regardless of whether it is the supplier of the favorite club or its bike brand. How can the brands take up and even deepen this close relationship in a sensible and smart digital way?
That is the question you need to ask brands and retailers. We do this, for example, in the form of our digital readiness check. Here, brands and retailers can assess their basic digital maturity level free of charge with the help of questions. Here we sometimes find with astonishment: Some market participants cannot even answer this question for their analog core business. We are therefore of the opinion, and the evaluations prove this, that the problem is not digitization per se. It only creates transparency and shows that the difficulties often lie elsewhere – namely in the analog core business, in the consistent focus on customer needs and also in the mindset of the company. The way to digital will also be difficult. In their core business, brands and retailers need which is still analog in the vast majority of cases, clear USPs. Otherwise a digitized process will not bring the desired success.
Tell us a little more about the highlights of the Summit: Which star guests are to be expected, which keynotes and workshops do you think are particularly exciting?
We are of course very happy about the visit and the keynote from Adidas-CSO Roland Auschel. He can certainly say a lot about the process of digitization, in which Adidas as a global brand is just like other, smaller brands. Personally, I’m particularly looking forward to Günter Althaus from the ANWR Group, who likes to give very unconventional lectures. And of course Robert Scoble with his keynote “What is the customer in 2020 and how do we prepare for it”. Without a doubt, everyone wants to know that!
… and of course not to forget: The ECD with its panel “Higher, Faster, Further – Sports Brands in the Digital Transformation”! *
That’s correct! These many workshops and panels, use cases and other dialogue-oriented formats are particularly exciting. The ECD panel, with its focus on the topics of platforms and marketplaces, deals with an absolutely trending topic that is quite preoccupying the industry. And with Bogner and Kickz as discussants, there is also absolutely top-class cast.
*“Higher faster farther? Sportfashion Brands in the Digital Transformation “- Our panel with expert voices from Bogner and KICKZ, moderated by Alexander Otto, will take place on June 28th from 12.30pm to 1.30pm in room 3. You can find the entire program here .