Innovation at Decathlon is our priority so that you can enjoy playing your sport more than ever or simply discover a new one. At Decathlon, innovation is pragmatic: sports are made accessible to everyone regardless of proficiency or discipline. The teams place the athlete at the heart of the process and prioritize the innovation of usage. They innovate via ACCESSIBLE, IMAGINATIVE, PRACTICAL AND UNIQUE products.
The innovation process
We place the user at the centre of our approach. It is therefore by observing the athletes as they play and by listening to them that our vendors, product managers, designers, and engineers imagine the products of tomorrow. Those that will facilitate the practise, the comfort, the pleasure and the safety of the user. And thanks to customer reviews, innovation continues and allow us to improve existing products or imagine the innovations of tomorrow...
Behind each product there is an idea, a need, an expectation, an intuition, which comes from an athlete, customer or collaborator and comes to life through the imaginings of the design teams and stimulates their creativity. To create 2,800 new products per year on average, it takes many ideas. This calls for a constant examination of sports evolution and how it is practised. This is how Decathlon innovates: by basing its design approach on listening to and observing athletes
Decathlon maintains a close connection with the athletes, which is fundamental to innovating. In fact, this allows the teams to observe the athletes as they practise their sport and gather their feedback. On the Decathlon websites, in the shops and on the Internet, the exchanges occur daily.
Decathlon websites are part of their environments and are set up in order to promote exchanges. Around a central store, which provide the necessary equipment, there are vast natural spaces (oceans, rivers, mountains, forests, etc.) or artificial spaces (golf, soccer pitches, tennis or basketball, etc.), workshops and team offices.
The body, the athlete's basic equipment. If the brands focus on their users and their needs, the Centre for Research and Development, Decathlon SportsLab, focuses on the function and needs of the human body. Together, they design innovative products, facilitating their use and ensure the well-being and safety of users. Nearly 50 engineers and researchers play a major role in the Decathlon Research and Development chain, which consists of about 780 people in total.
Decathlon SportsLab has precise measurement and analysis tools and various expertise with respect to mobility, thermal comfort, morphology and affective science. The teams track down the causes of obstruction, discomfort, and risk of injury. Researchers also cooperate with universities and laboratories to develop innovative projects and share their expertise.
Design: a human chain
The research and development teams are linked together in the company chain with respect to: branding, prototyping workshops, industrial processing teams as well as the SportsLab laboratories. Everyone contributes to the product improvement process. Each component of the products is studied.
Designers provide shape, colour, consistency to the imagined products. It is a collaborative approach that builds on the knowledge and skills of product managers, researchers, engineers, etc. They create functional prototypes that can measure the appeal through usage. They also prepare drawings and models to be able to pre-visualize the final product and evaluate the users' perception of it. They create an emotional bond between the product and the athlete by imagining the most ergonomic way to bring it to life.
The choice of components and assembly are key steps, which will allow the product to be unique, relevant and durable. In Villeneuve d'Ascq, more than 3,000 prototypes are produced each year. The prototyping workshops are made available to the teams in order to observe, test components and finished products in real-world situations. They compete over the speed of design and allow each collaborator to become a stakeholder and creator of innovation. It is thanks to this type of set-up that Decathlon and its brands are able to offer technical products that are vastly accessible to many.