Thoughts from the Frontline: Michael Price – inov-8 Product and Marketing Director
Power of Insights in Product and Service Development
We’re going to be starting a series of interviews with leading lights in sectors we love about the importance of insight in the process of product and service delivery and development.
Using our adage of “Do more, say less”, we want to find out what makes the brands and organisations tick that are striving to deliver what their customers or market wants through true innovation or development in both product and service delivery and experience.
In the first of this series, we’ve had a chat with Michael Price – Product and Marketing Director from inov-8. inov-8 are a brand that we’ve been familiar with/had a love for, for a while now. The global running shoe market was estimated at $64.30 billion* (£49.37 billion) in 2017 and not showing many signs of slowing down. inov-8 forged ahead into this market in 2001 with innovative approach, at first in the off-road and then later road, cross fit and weight training shoes.
Recent product development has seen them use emerging materials such as Graphene in their product development, indicating that they’re not going to shy away from innovation going forward.
Q: Michael, tell us a little about yourself and your role at inov-8?
A: Michael Price: I’m inov-8’s Product and Marketing Director. I’ve been with the brand for 2 years, having previously worked at several other running companies, including Asics and Reebok. I am passionate about marketing and helping runners of all abilities achieve their goals with the help of outstanding product. A runner myself, I love getting to grips with new sporting experiences, and most recently this has included pushing my limits over trails and fells.
Q: Tell us a little about your organisation and its products and services?
A: We’re a UK based sports business, exporting to 68 countries. Our focus is on running and fitness, producing the best gripping shoes and award-winning apparel for these markets.
Q: How do you find out what your customers think about your products and services?
A: Through the sales team, sponsored events, the inov-8 website and social media channels. Effectively everybody within the company is a salesperson.
Q: How are customer insights used by your product or service delivery teams?
A: All the time – customer service feedback from social media/website all feed into product development in one way or another.
Q: Do you have an example of successful product or service development that was driven by customer insights more than usual?
A: Innovation is about leading. inov-8 have produced a world first in innovation using Graphene in a new range of shoes called G-SERIES. This has significantly enhanced the grip and durability of our sports shoes and is a major innovation on the world stage.
Additionally, the successful launch of the X-TALON 230, created to supply the customer need for a running shoe to tackle soft and muddy ground, has improved grip and reduced water retention.
Currently, the product team are redesigning the ALL TERRAIN PRO VEST in response to customer insights – it has been requested that packs are simplified and more ergonomic for long races.
These products were developed directly off the back of customer feedback and insights.
Q: With the growth of customer feedback channels and global communication over the last decade, how has this affected your product and/or service delivery?
A: The company is closer to the wholesale customer, gaining lots of feedback during this process, meaning inov-8 can filter common themes and gain an insight into product improvements which can be made. This traditionally would have been a more distant relationship.
Q: What’s your understanding of “product truth” and how important is this as a concept to you and your organisation?
A: What can be delivered within the context of human attitudes & behaviour. This aligns with inov-8’s mantra to constantly innovate – challenging the perception that consumers do not expect to find two certain attributes co-existing within the same product. The product truth is thus the culmination of these ‘contradictions’.
Q: If you had a mantra for product success, what would it be?
A: inov-8’s mantra for product success is constant innovation.
It’s interesting to see Michael’s observation that the change in the relationship between producer/brand and wholesale customers we’d imagine mostly during the evolution of e-commerce and greater direct sales, has led to greater insight into customer needs at any one time.
With a mantra of constant innovation the brand can actively encourage product development around customer needs and feedback, the challenge in many respects will be deciding on which aspects of the product to maintain as other elements evolve around them.
If you’re interested in taking part in our Thoughts from the Frontline series and play a role in a organisation or a brand’s product or service delivery, get in touch via our contact page and we can speak further.
Or, if you want to learn about how we might help you to gain further insights into your product sector and customer base to change the product or service experience or perception you deliver to market at the moment, drop us a line. We like to talk.
*taken from Grand View Research – Athletic Footwear Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report – 2018 – 2025