On April 1st, Oxylane Group will launch “Open Oxylane,” a sports-related open innovation platform. That’s what the French trade magazine LSA reported yesterday. Despite the launch date, it’s probably serious business. Oxylane Group, which runs the Decathlon department stores, has already made inroads into co-creation and open innovation: in October 2011 I blogged about b’Twin Lab, a co-creation platform dedicated to cycling products (which has closed since), and in April 2012 I blogged about a series of contests run by the same brand with Local Motors. These didn’t seem to have been a success, but with Open Oxylane, the company keeps pushing.
“The idea is to create a global community of sport goods inventors,” Vincent Textoris, who works on the project for 2 years now with Oxylane’s Innovation HQs, explains. For two years? So they have started working on it before the very first platform, the cycling-related b’Twin Lab, was even launched (by another project manager). That is interesting to notice, indicating that the company has had two co-creation-open-innovation-type projects running simultaneaously within their innovation teams, one at a brand level (the now closed b’Twin Lab) and one at a group level.
Anyway, Open Oxylane’s facebook page has been created in late May 2013. They have added the “Flatty Balls” teaser on December 18th (sounds like “flappy Birds, no?), and the “B-Back” teaser on Fevruary 7th. Both are witty videos that highlight problems faced by sportsmen and possible solutions to it, co-created with the community of Open Oxylane. Now, of these products don’t actually exist, they have been made up to showcase the collaborative innovation potential – and probbly to go viral (which they haven’t, yet)
Similarly to Quirky and some of its competitors, the process is based on idea submission and community evaluation, before potentially being forwarded to Oxylane’s brand’s product managers. The latter “will remain the only ones to decide whether an idea will eventually be implemented,” Vincent Textoris explains, “but if they do, they will have to allocate some time and money to it.”
The wording is still vague and the conditions are unclear to me. Will consumers get royalties? A share of revenue? symbolic recognition? All of it? “In exchange for their engagement, users will get rewards,” sportbuzzbusiness.fr wrote on January 7th about Open Oxylane, “rewards” being used as is in French (“En échange de leur engagement, les utilisateurs pourront alors bénéficier de rewards“). So we don’t know yet what consumers will get out of it.
But to be honest, knowing Decathlon, I don’t think they will be ripped off, as the company is known to be very close to the consumer in their innovation, design and marketing activities. Philippe Picaud, currently Design Director of Carrefour, was previously working at the same position at Oxylane, where he created a sound user-centered innovation culture. Today, designers still work closely with brand managers, product managers and users to innovate in sports, bringing out products like the 2 seconds tent, the Rollnet or the Tilt bicycle.
Obviously, yesterday Oxylane organized a press day to present Open Oxylane, it’s a shame I didn’t know (OK, I’m not a journalist nor a famous blogger, but I received their previous PR updates)…
— Open Oxylane (@OpenOxylane) February 11, 2014
…I will try to stay updated anyway 🙂 and keep your readers posted. Let’s see if group level initiatives around co-creation and open innovation prove to be more successful than the brand level initiatives so far. Maybe the latter, meaning b’Twin Labs, were just too early. Maybe not. Let’s see how it unfolds.