Author and Contributor
A lot of mountain bikes parked next to the entrance, breath-taking posters on the walls, and people walking around in their business casual attire. No doubt, we are in a sports company.The Business Development Master had recently the chance to be invited by the site manager to visit the company.
Decathlon group, which counts more than 20 brands in its portfolio, has recently opened an international innovation and design center for its 3 mountain brands, Quechua, Wed’ze and Simond. Beautifully located in the Chamonix valley, at the foot of the highest mountain in Europe, the headquarters is a powerful marketing tool. Hosting an average 2, 5 million tourists every year, Chamonix valley is a strategic crossroad between Switzerland, Italy and French amidst the Alpes.
This building of 10 000 square meters contains a vast flagshipstore, used as a “laboratory store”, but also offices for designing and prototyping activities, a local tourism center and a restaurant. Outside you can find all the nature elements that are valuable to test the products: rocks, water, long grass and slopes. The car park is hidden on lower ground for esthetic reasons. Everything is designed so as to make the employees and customers focus on being creative. It is interesting to notice that the 3 mountain brands’ relationship with its stakeholders goes beyond merely selling a product or employing people. We clearly saw the benefits for the company of investing in the human capital to raise productivity and motivate those creative minds that are part of the firm.
Quechua develops today a policy of new products quite well established within the international sport brandsenvironment. Indeed, its segmentation strategy encompasses a widening range of customers with pricepositioning from first price ranges – the Quechua basic bag pack is sold 2, 95€ – to premium ranges. In order to develop products that are as technically advanced as those of the best sports brands such as North Face, Columbia and Salomon, Decathlon must always be on the lookout fora cutting-edge expertise in R&D activities, particularly in the innovation process. Regarding the basic Quechua bag pack, product designers managed to reduce the number of pieced from 13 to only 5. They are now searching for a new process to manufacture it with only one seam line. Those innovative moves directly imply cost reductions, going as far as dividing them by 6. Hence, the company can fulfillwith pride its core mission: democratize sport by making it easy and accessible for everyone.
Decathlon is building a unique brand image in the retail business, by creating 3 different brands for 3 different customers that share the same space… the mountain.
As difficult as it might have been to implement, it is an example to follow for sure.