Uniting the world through sports
Decathlon, one of the most recognizable sporting-good retailers in France and across Europe, is on a mission to make the world a better place through sports. Framing their products as an extension of the people and planet they serve, the brand embraces a corporate culture of accountability — from their ecological footprint to their design and business operations.
Sports — They boost moods, improve sleep and develop life skills that help us deal with depression, anxiety and stress. People with active lifestyles tend to do so because it gives them a sense of well-being. They feel more energetic throughout the day, have sharper memories, and feel more positive about themselves and their lives. Fueled by this same passion and a desire to create impact through innovation is Decathlon — the French sporting-goods company that hopes to make the world a better place through sports.
We reached out to Decathlon who last year was an official partner of the World Design Capital 2020 programme in Lille. What we learned is that beyond helping the world be better at sports, Decathlon in fact promotes and advocates a corporate culture of accountability from its ecological footprint, design, production, manufacturing and business operations.
From humble beginnings in northern France in 1976, Decathlon has today earned its spot as one of the most recognized sporting-goods retailers with 1600 stores located in 62 countries around the world. Designing and producing for over 85 house brands that specialize in both individual and team sports, Decathlon’s idea of design is based on one key principle: humanity — where people are the company’s most valuable resource.
As complex and as faceted as its users, Decathlon employs over 300 designers and 600 engineers who all work towards a common goal: to improve lives by sustainably providing access to sports to everyone, everywhere. Their product lines are designed to encourage active lifestyles regardless of ability or status. The success of this strategy is due in large part to the relationship that its design teams seek to develop from the observations with athletes that help Decathlon better understand the functional and emotional values of their product lifecycles, as well as improve on the relevant technical specifications, balancing performance with comfort, safety and style.
More innovation. More great products. More people playing.
Countless studies have shown the benefits of physical activity on social cohesion as much as on our bodies and minds. More sport means fewer diseases, and improved social integration. As a result, Decathlon is also invested in leveraging sports to advocate more sustainable practices and sports development policies. Be it through reduced packaging and environmental labeling to accessibility by public transport to its stores, or improving energy efficiency and optimizing storage and transport, it’s all part of their desire to ‘democratize sports’ and to be useful to human beings and to the planet. To that end, Decathlon not only recognizes its current state of affairs on the environment, but ambitions to be a driver of change. They have set high targets for the reduction of their environmental footprint, specifically with regards to their design operations and by next year are hoping that 30% of sales will come from eco-designed products.
With the sharing, circular and green economies becoming increasingly prevalent and where the preservation of outdoor playgrounds are perhaps more relevant than brick and mortar stores, Decathlon is working to embrace design activism and create a positive impact in the world. The company aims to play a leading role in the transformation of consumption patterns and sporting practices without ever losing sight of its commitment towards making sports accessible to as many as possible.