Decathlon Belgium's leadership team decodes the brand's reverse shopping campaign - Nolhtaced

Pranali Tawte
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Sports retailer Decathlon is resorting to reverse shopping in a bid to advocate and inculcate sustainability; as a part of the campaign, the brand changed its name to ‘Nolhtaced’ in three cities in Belgium.

Decathlon had reversed its brand name to 'Nolhtaced' for a month and the audience was confused. The sporting goods retailer changed its brand logo across three Belgian cities - reversing its name. The brand later revealed that it intends to encourage consumers to engage in reverse shopping.

In a bid to promote environment-friendly practices in business and push reverse shopping, Decathlon reversed its brand name. 

The name ‘Nolhtaced’ appeared in Decathlon stores located in the Belgian cities of Evere, Namur, and Ghent.

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Sharing the idea behind the initiative, Arnaud de Coster, Leader, Second Life, Decathlon Belgium, told Social Samosa, “Nolhtaced is a communication campaign highlighting our buyback service for sports products. Through this campaign, we want to make our customers aware of the possibility that Decathlon offers them to buy the sports products they no longer use.”

To clear the clouds of confusion, Decathlon posted a video on Instagram on how the new name must be pronounced.

With Nolhtaced, the brand allows customers to resell old or unused sporting goods under warranty. Including products that do not belong to the Decathlon brand as well. The consumers got paid through Decathlon purchase vouchers. The retailer would then repair the products and resell them. In case the products could not be repaired or reused, they were then directed to a recycling hub. 

Coster expressed that the goal was to make all Belgians understand that Decathlon has a permanent solution to offer them if they have (quality) sports products lying around. 

"You know Decathlon as a brand that sells new sports products. Now know Nolhtaced as a brand that buys your sports products that you no longer use."

Arnaud De Coster

Generally, reverse shopping is carried out by companies to make use of existing materials to satisfy and solve customer problems, thereby promoting sustainability.

Vanessa Vanden Bosch, Sustainability leader, Decathlon Hainaut, Belgium said, “Sustainability is more and more important for Decathlon. We try to put the P of Planet in the same balance, as the P of Profit. Sometimes we do, and sometimes we can't.”

Decathlon further, rewarded its consumers for returning used products and in less than a month, more than 25,000 items have been returned which will be now repurposed, according to the brand spokespersons.

While sustainability is the need of the hour and is becoming a consistent communication peg, many brands end up merely scratching the surface and have been accused of 'greenwashing'. Bosch however believes that this greenwashing isn't often intentional.

"Sustainability is new for companies and I am not sure they all try to greenwash, I just think sometimes they don't communicate in a good way. People are more strict with Sustainability and you need to be careful about what you communicate and how," she explains.

Bosch advised that everyone should understand and be careful with the message. What really matters is how the efforts are communicated. She urges people to consider the larger picture and think globally.

Bosch added, “The more you pollute, the more ambitious you must be in your actions. We don't advocate that we are a sustainable company, but we try to reduce our footprint.”

Decathlon is now trying to inculcate environmentalism in every employee, encouraging them to think about the planet first.

"We have a sustainable department and their next step is to be not a department anymore and that inculcate sustainability as a value in all our employees. Each employee should think with the 3Ps (People, Planet, Profit). To succeed, we need to sensibilize and change some mentalities and habits," Bosch concludes.

global campaign Decathlon sustaiunability reverse shopping Nolhtaced