Posted: July 1, 2015 |  AUTHOR: KEN FOX | CONTACT ME

 

Under Armour (UA) was founded in 1996* by a former football player from the University of Maryland, Kevin Plank. He designed a synthetic textile which enabled sweat to be “wicked-away” during high levels of physical activity. Plank’s vision has been amazingly successful in developing a mature and growing brand of products, known as performance apparel. The gear was originally designed to keep athletes cool, dry and light throughout their games, workouts and similar recreational activities.

The company’s offers a competitive advantage over rivals based on product advances, wider product selection, differing features and technical superiority. Part of their marketing strategy includes outfitting agreements with a range of collegiate and professional sports teams, individual players and related personalities. The company is up against tough global competition from Adidas and Nike, among others.

UA has grown its business by expanding their product line beyond male sports players and beyond the U.S.

Product Line Expansion

Their initial products included male sports under garments, jerseys, work out shirts and sweatshirts. UA is now committed to offering a widening line of athletic shoes for football , basketball, soccer, running, golf and other sports. As part of their marketing program,  the company has signed sponsorship agreements with athletes such as:

Stephen Curry, an up and coming star basketball player for the Golden State Warriors (U.S.)

Jordan Speith, a professional golfer on the PGA tour (U.S.)

Andy Murray is ranked the #3 best tennis player in the world (England)

Under Armour expanded their marketing with sponsorships to prominent global soccer or rugby players and teams such as:

The most successful Brazilian football (soccer) club, Sao Paulo (signed in March 2015).

The UK Tottenham Hotspurs in the Barclay Premier League

The Colo-Colo of the Chilean Primera Division

Cruz Azul and Toluca (football) leagues in Mexico

Dutch soccer star Memphis Depay (who will play for Manchester United next season).

Welsh national rugby team

Concurrently, the company has expanded their women’s and children’s sports apparel lines. This includes women’s’ clothing for dance, yoga, downhill skiing, running, etc. UA has solicited endorsements and sponsorships with women athletes and role models such as:

Misty Copeland, soloist, American Ballet Theater (USA)

Lindsey Vonn, downhill skier, U.S. Ski team

Gisele Bunchen, Brazilian Super model

The company began offering footwear for men, women, and youth in 2006. This included products for: football, baseball, lacrosse, softball, soccer (cleats), performance training, running, basketball and hunting (boots). The foot line incorporates innovative technologies which provide stabilization, directional cushioning and moisture management.

Under Armour plans to grow the women’s total business to about $1 billion by 2016. It is also increasing distribution of its women’s products through retail and wholesaling.

It’s children’s clothing lines have also been popular.

  

It has expanded their creative team, changed its product lines and retail presentations to help achieve their growth goals. These efforts include incorporating new technologies and expanding its brands, such as the SpeedForm running shoe.

Under Armour Speedform Running Shoe

Other Growth Strategies

Retail

Under Armour is increasingly opening their namesake retail stores. One examples is the opening of their 30,000 square foot Chicago Brand House store on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue. They also plan to open a store in the Mall of America in Minneapolis, USA.

 Chicago Brand House Store 

International

Their retail expansion plans includes a bold international push with plans to open 100 stores outside the U.S. in 2015. Company store expansion is focused in Asia, Europe, Australia and Latin America. International sales are planned to increase from 6% in 2013 to 12% by 2016, or $4 billion.

The company opened an Under Armour Experience Store in Shanghai. The store features an immersive wrap-around video experience to tell Under Amour’s story. CEO Plank says “we will lead first with our story and bring people into the best Under Armour experience possible, before we ask them to try our performance apparel and footwear.”

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 12.03.44 PM

DeAndre Jordan (LA Clippers) at Under Armour’s Shanghai, China Store

The company launched a Chinese e-commerce site in December 2012 and already has 8 retail stores in China to date.

UA opened its first Central American store in Panama City in June 2014.

Technology

Under Armour also plans growth by continuing to  incorporate technology into its future “smart” products. They acquired several personal health and fitness app. companies:

1. MapMyFitness, initially appealing to U.S. runners and bikers.

2. MyFitness Pal, a calorie counting application

3. Endomodo, a European group of athletes which offers a digital fitness platform for license, subscriptions to newsletters and blogs and digital advertising.

Under Armour teamed up with Zappos, a U.S. based electronic shoe retailer. Zappos will arrange to send notifications to customers who own UA shoes when they are reaching “the end of their life,” based on workout data logged into  MyFitness apps. So far, about 300,000 members have agreed to use this feature.

Financial Performance

Publically traded Under Armour is doing well financially. For the full year 2014, net revenues for the company increased 32% to 3.1 billion U.S. dollars. About 75% of its revenues come from apparel. Additional 2014 revenues by segment sales and growth versus the prior year include:

Apparel………………..+30%, or $2.29 billion

Footwear………………+44%, or $431 million

Accessories…………. +27% or $275 million

Direct-to-consumer..+32%,

International………….+96%

Under Armour overtook Adidas AG for the first time in the U.S. Sportswear market for the 11 months ending in January 2015 (Under Armour $2.6 billion versus Adidas $1.6 billion). However, Under Armour has a long way to go to catch up to global leader Nike.

*Based in Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Commentary

Under Armour’s strength stems from its original U.S. male positioning of performance sports apparel. This unique product platform provides strong brand equity to leverage into other categories and international markets. The company plans to incorporate future wearable technologies and multi-channels of distribution to grow their business globally.

To this end, Under Armour opened a Connected Fitness digital headquarters in Austin, Texas (USA) in March 2015. It is dedicated to digital innovation and consists of over 100 engineers, data scientists and designers in digital health, fitness and sports.

While it seems UA has a shot gun approach to various sports, ranging from rugby, lacrosse, basketball and futball (soccer) I think their real goal is the latter sport. UA is set for future growth internationally, where soccer in Europe and other sports, especially basketball in Asia, are growing.

Consumers like to try new products and UA will provide them with new options in retail store formats, female and children’s sports apparel and enhanced wearable technology across multiple sports and players. 

Resources:

Under Armour Case Study, Bowen/Daigle/Dion/Valentine, 2014

Under Armour Is Wiring Up, Wall Street Journal, February 28, 2015

Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank on Q1 2015 Results-earning Call Transcript, April 21, 2015

Under Armour’s Aggressive Plan to Expand Overseas, Forbes, October 17, 2013

Under Armour (UA) Annual Report, F’2014

Earnings Review: Under Armour Caps a Fantastic 2014 With Another Blockbuster Quarter, Trefis, February 6, 2015

Under Armour Overtakes Adidas in U.S. Sportswear Market, Wall Street Journal, January 8, 2015

Under Armour Turns Ambitions to Electronic Apparel, Monitoring Apps, Wall Street Journal, February 27, 2015

Under Armour Speedform Review: I Wore a Bra for My Feet, and I Loved it, Popular Science, August 6, 2013

Under Armour Opens First Digital Headquarters in Austin’s Revitalized Seaholm Power Plant District, PR Newswire, March 11, 2015

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©2017, The Global Galaxy blog is produced by The Soundings Group, LLC, Charleston, South Carolina, USA, www.thesoundingsgroup.com. The company is an international business consulting firm, specializing in new market assessments, market entry strategies and marketing guidance. The scope of Global Galaxy is to cover timely international trends, issues and business building ideas. Its purpose is to educate, inform and stimulate thinking for business opportunity analyses.

 

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