Spoga horse TOP INNOVATIONS 2021 - the retailer's view
Relevant innovations may be something completely different for a retailer than for a stable owner, riding trainer or professional athlete. The spoga horse blog discussed the trade's view of the topic of product innovation with Christina Møller, top equestrian retailer from Denmark, and Arnd Wiegler, managing director of the German trading company Equiva. They are part of the expert jury for the spoga horse TOP INNOVATIONS 2021 and have scoured the entries for the products that are of interest to their customers: Innovations that bring out the best in riders and horses and make both of them have more fun together.
The spoga horse TOP INNOVATIONS
spoga horse: What does innovation mean to you as a retailer?
Christina Møller: In order to further develop our offerings, we naturally always need innovative products in the store. Every rider wants to get the best treatment and equipment for his horse and I am glad that there are so many talented people and innovative companies that find the best possible solutions for the daily challenges.
Arnd Wiegler: Innovations are the foundation for successful development of markets. They are an essential part of the raison d'être for specialized multi-channel retailers like us. At the same time, innovations often represent a win/win situation for horse, rider, retailer and manufacturer.
spoga horse: From a retailer's perspective, which products have been the biggest and most commercially important innovations for you recently?
CM: So much has happened in the last few years, I can hardly limit myself to three products.... But if I have to: My personal number one is the airbag for riders. Safety is simply always top priority and especially on a professional level and in competition riding it is difficult to increase safety – but state-of-the-art airbags are very comfortable to wear and bring a big plus in safety.
As a dealer, I would also say that a game changer of the recent years has been the grip on breeches. We now sell 99 percent of all breeches with grip. If you wear breeches all day long, grip is clearly superior to the classic full leather or imitation leather trim. The pants aren't as warm and have much more stretch, so they're just much more comfortable.
Another top topic for me is the anatomical equipment of the horse - in the bridle, girths or bits. A great deal has developed in this field in recent years. Today, we understand the individual anatomy of each horse better, so each individual horse can get the best fitting product.
AW: That's true - for me, anatomical bridles and functional hoof boots are innovations that have contributed significantly to improving the welfare of horses. I also think the advances in homing and nutrition products are essential, for example high quality staple foods and low dust, antibacterial and very absorbent bedding.
Jury member Christina Møller, Image by Christina Møller
spoga horse: Do you see a megatrend in innovations?
CM: In addition to the topic of new technologies for training and rehab for horses, I definitely see a megatrend in the field of sustainability. Many equestrian companies are working on improvements of their collections in this regard. For example, if you look at high-quality leather substitutes, a lot has happened: already this year, a lot of pure vegan riding boots are coming, and I think the whole industry has realized that this topic is on top of the agenda...
AW: ...and rightly so! Sustainability needs to be the focus of everyone involved, right down to the consumer. We all have a shared responsibility to pay increasing attention to the issue from both the supply and consumer sides.
Likewise, we have a lot of potential in education on the subject of nutrition and husbandry to promote the health of horses – that is the other megatrend to me.
spoga horse: Are there specific companies that are real innovation drivers for you?
CM: Off the top of my head, I would think of Hermann Sprenger. Sprenger does a lot of research and is very innovative with many products. Many of my customers have benefited greatly from their BowBalance stirrups and I personally have had a lot of success with their NovoContact line. Sprenger is very focused on the horse's anatomy and giving our horses the best conditions to perform.
AW: I wouldn't necessarily want to single out one company - they are very different in different areas. Ultimately, market-ready innovation requires two things: the dedication and spirit of the inventors, and then also a company that is able to implement the innovations.
In the end, it is often the sum of the developments of smaller companies from which larger companies benefit in the end.
Jury member Arnd Wiegler, Image by Arnd Wiegler
spoga horse: Are there any product areas in which you would like to see more innovations - and why?
AW: As dealers, we would like to see innovations that focus on the well-being of the horse and the rider. Nutrition and housing are certainly key areas there. But as already discussed: Innovations that focus on "real" sustainability are gaining importance....
CM: ...and it's good that the pressure is growing here! We have a responsibility to make the world more sustainable, just like any other industry. So I hope we will see more sustainable products and innovations in this area in the future.
spoga horse: What role does spoga horse play as a meeting place for sports professionals, retailers and manufacturers?
CM: The atmosphere at the trade show is irreplaceable. It is very important for us not only to meet our existing partners there, but also to look out for new products. So it's all the nicer that there are TOP INNOVATIONS in 2021 and that we can at least get a taste of the trade fair atmosphere online. However, I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone in person again in 2022!
AW: Yes, a hopefully corona-free togetherness with great exhibitors, lots of visitors and the usual great spoga feeling!
After all, we as retailers already get many innovations presented to us by our industry partners long before spoga horse. But the great developments of small companies can also inspiring and interesting additions to the product range. That is certainly a great added value for us at spoga.