ASGA conference: Putting inspiration into practice

The Australian Sporting Goods Association gathering represented mainly the supplier side of the industry, but all participants were clearly keen to catch up with colleagues and find some positives in a challenging market, reports Robyn Frampton.

And it was far from doom and gloom at the conference, with plenty of inspiration and positive direction from speakers, thoughtful analysis of actual and likely impacts on the industry, and plenty of practical and innovative suggestions to help suppliers and retailers meet consumer needs within a changing landscape.

Legendary AFL player and coach and all-round ideas man, Kevin Sheedy, drew the greatest response with his challenging and inspiring presentation which exhorted delegates to wake up and look for new possibilities and challenges as they planned for the future.

Delegates were swept up in his characteristic enthusiasm and full of questions about identifying and capitalising on new ideas. (See story 'Think it through, Sheedy says')

If Sheedy provided the day's inspiration, it was the other speakers who provided a framework for action.

Of particular interest to delegates was a presentation by Ian Krawitz from ASGA's  market research partner, 10THOUSANDFEET, who took an “eagle eye look” at global and national conditions and showed how factors such as government policy influenced consumer sentiment and sales trends.

Several delegates commented on the value of being able to place their own experience within this context.

Krawitz also reported on changing participation rates and trends, identifying potential opportunities such as capitalising on the growth of more casual forms of sports participation, leveraging the fast-growing e-tailing sector and concentrating on 'value drivers' such as loyalty programmes, rather than price competition.

This tied in neatly with messages from Reid Elliot from the Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy, who outlined how businesses could harness opportunities in areas like e-commerce, information technology and social media in future, and Mark Fletcher from Tower Systems who encouraged delegates to look at technology as a tool to help cultivate a point of difference in a competitive market, engage customers more effectively and cultivate closer, more profitable relationships with them.

Emphasising the need for a framework to support these ideas were presenters like Bonnie Ryan, industry manager for GS1 Australia, who stressed the need for effective data capture, accurate internal information management and collaborative, “seamlessly integrated” supply chain management based on global standards, to more effectively “meet the promise to customers”.

“As the virtual and physical worlds merge more quickly, standing alone will add cost while establishing a best practice supply chain will increase efficiency, eliminate costly procedures and mistakes, and ensure you can move goods and exchange information more effectively,” she said.

Another critical area is in environmental initiatives, said  managing director of Green for Retail,  Tara Allsop, not only to mitigate the potentially serious impacts of climate change on business but also to capitalise on what she called the “next frontier in competitive innovation”.

“It is absolutely possible to save money, and make money, out of sustainability by minimising the impact of rising costs and capitalising on the rise of the 'conscious consumer', today's fastest growing market segment,” she said.

Stan Moore, from the Australian Packaging Covenant, reminded delegates of the need to meet sustainable packaging guidelines and outlined the guidelines which help ensure all packaging - primary, secondary and tertiary (transport) - is designed and manufactured to be fit for purpose, resource efficient and made of low impact materials, and that it factored in 'end of life' considerations and resource recovery.

Sports Hydrant’s Andy Turnball took a broader view, outlining the need for “action-based advocacy” to influence key decision-makers, counter the problematic “election to election” view within government, and promote the cause of sport in the community.

In all,the conference was a comprehensive and co-ordinated presentation which delegates rated as a  valuable and inspiring day.

• Pictured:  Andy Turnball from Sports Hydrant, Mark Randles of PrintBound and Jackie Read from Russell Corporation


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