The winner is... Beckmann AS! The Norwegian company has won the Special Award Ergonomics 2021 in the category school bags and backpacks with its Active Air FLX. With this award, Insights-X and the Institute for Health and Ergonomics (IGR) honour stationery products that pay special attention to the topic of ergonomics. The school backpack Active Air FLX is based on a combination of air and padding, which results in more support and stability. Moreover, it is made entirely from recycled PET bottles, which shows that the company attaches great importance to sustainability. We talked to Martin Tordsson, Head of Global Sales since June 2018 and responsible for international expansion, who gave us further insights into the design process and the company’s stance on sustainability.
Your aim is to protect students' backs. Which carrying systems were ergonomic milestones for your company?
Martin Tordsson, Head of Sales, Beckmann AS
Martin Tordsson: In our company’s 75 years of designing and producing school backpacks, we have had many milestones. We don’t really work with “carrying systems”, but rather focus our efforts on implementing good ergonomics in general across all backpacks and schoolbags. However, if we look at the past ten years, the multi-award-winning Active Air FLX with its air-based back support is definitely one of them.
You sell school backpacks in over 20 countries all across the globe. How does the range of cultural differences between school systems or school paths actually affect the production of school backpacks?
We do research and get inspiration in the different markets and try to find the best solutions. But in general, our experience is that children prefer ergonomic school backpacks that are fun, too. That is the main need and desire across different cultures, education systems and school paths.
The Fridays for Future generation is your target group, as well. To what extent has the momentum of the global protests for more climate protection affected your products?
We are cheering them on and are continuously looking into opportunities on how to make our production and logistics even more environmentally friendly. Our target consumers are very much focused on sustainability, so it is only natural that this is a topic throughout our entire value chain.
The colours and shapes on your backpacks aim to bring a hint of magic into everyday school life. How do you involve your target audience in the design process?
T.: We do trend analyses, user questionnaires, visit trade fairs and talk to parent and teachers, but, most importantly, we observe and talk to children - the users.
What is your most important tip for retailers who sell your products?
T.: Our experience is that our retailers have great product knowledge, and we believe this is crucial for our success. This is also why we mainly focus on building distribution through the specialty channel, where our consumers can get all the necessary information and guidance around our backpacks. The best tip we always give our retailers is to let the children try on our backpacks. Our backpacks are light, soft and very comfortable to wear while still offering supreme ergonomic support – children feel this immediately. In addition, we believe our unique 75 years of experience and the fact that we are the leading backpack brand in Scandinavia builds trust with parents. In other words: “Beckmann is loved by children and trusted by parents”…!