Sharp Consulting was tasked with examining the issue of Under Armour experiencing weak penetration into international markets. Since being founded in 1996, Under Armour has seen stunning growth. However, in order to compete in the sports apparel industry, it has to compete on the global scale. The sports apparel industry sells the most in the United States with 41% of total sales (Aruvian's R'search, 2013). With so many sales occurring in just one country, there remains a huge market that has yet to be to be tapped into. In 2012, Under Armour’s net sales from overseas accounted for just 6% of overall sales (Under Armour Inc., 2013). In comparison, Under Armour’s competitors have made a much higher percentage of their sales internationally. Adidas leads the pack percentage wise, with 70% of its sales coming from outside North America (Adidas, 2013). Under Armour is far behind its competition in the industry causing its overall sales to be significantly less than where it can and should be.
(Adidas, 2013; Nike, 2012; Under Armour, 2013; Columbia Sportswear, 2012)
This section of the report will look at Under Armour’s position as a company and how this contributes to their international presence. Sharp Consulting found that Under Armour’s weak international presence was due to a few key problems: brand awareness, over focus on American sports, and lack of longstanding overseas marketing. These are the problems we will be focusing on in our company analysis. Under Armour is missing out on a huge market and opportunity to grow as a business. However throughout this report we will discuss why this is happening, what Under Armour is doing to counteract this, and what solutions we recommend.
Lack of Brand Awareness Due to Company’s Youth
Under Armour is a relatively new company in the sports apparel industry. Under Armour has been around since 1996, or about 17 years. This is Under Armour’s major issue concerning their international growth because they do not have the same financial leverage their competitors possess. The company’s largest competitor, Nike, has been around for more than twice as long, and companies such as Adidas and Columbia Sportswear have been around for over half a century. This creates one of the largest problems for Under Armour, brand loyalty. It has been very difficult for Under Armour to convince people to switch to their product, even when it is superior. In the United States Under Armour is recognized for their innovation and performance apparel, however Nike and Adidas have already introduced their substitute products into the market, making Under Armour’s products seem less innovative.
Over Focus on American Sports
Being an American based company and with the founder, Kevin Plank, being a former football player, Under Armour originally created products for football. Since its beginnings in football the company has made a big push into baseball. Under Armour has carved a strong niche in the industry but the problem is that these two sports are not popular worldwide, thus and it limits the available market.
Endorse More Popular and Influential Teams/ Athletes
Under Armour is starting to get endorsement deals with teams and players in Europe. Their biggest endorsement move was sponsoring the Tottenham Hotspurs, an English soccer team in England’s most competitive league. According Forbes staff member Fred Dreier, they have also sponsored Tottenham’s defender Michael Dawson, as well as the Welsh Rugby league and the Israeli Maccabi Tel Aviv soccer team and Greece’s Aris FC soccer team (Drier, 2012). This is a great step for Under Armour because they are showing commitment to developing products for different sports, however the team and players they sponser are not as well-known or influential as those of their competitors.
Devote More Capital to International Marketing
Being a smaller company in the sports apparel industry, it is to be expected that Under Armour does not have as much money to spend on marketing, according to their 2012 annual report, Under Armour funded its first multimillion dollar international marketing campaign on February 12, 2012 (Under Armour Inc., 2012). However, this discrepancy prevents the company from achieving international growth. In 2012, Nike spent $2.7 billion on marketing and Adidas spent just under $2 billion (Nike Inc., 2012) (Adidas Group, 2012). That’s more than Under Armour made in sales over the same period.
Under Armour is finally starting to make an international marketing. In September 2012, Under Armour hired Karl-Heinz Maurath to become President of International Operations. Mr. Maurath has held several different positions at Adidas, including Senior Vice President and Adidas Group Latin America, and has been helping Under Armour increase its international presence. On February 12th 2013 Under Armour launched its largest international marketing campaign.
In this section of our analysis we are going to take a look at Under Armour’s competitors as well as the sports apparel industry as a whole. We feel our competitors are in a better position than us in the international market mainly due to the maturity of their organizations.
Under Armour’s three main international competitors are Nike, Adidas, and Columbia. Currently Under Armour’s net revenues from international sales are $89 million, which represent only 6% of their total revenue from sales (Dreier, 2012). This proves to be a serious problem for Under Armour if they are trying to expand their company presence. Top competitors such as Nike and Adidas pull in around 40% of their sales from overseas (Adidas, 2013; Nike, 2012).
The biggest issue we faced while examining Under Armour’s international authority was why they are virtually non-existent in the international market. There are several major factors that contribute to this but first we will look at Under Armour’s age. They were first formed as a company in 1996 which means they are only 17 years old, whereas Adidas is almost 90 years old and Nike is almost 40 years old. This poses one of the biggest problems for Under Armour; how to attract customers from companies they already know and trust. Because Nike and Adidas have built up their brand recognition and customer loyalty over the past decades Under Armour must have to find a way to convince consumers that their product is better than the ones they already have.
The next reason we found for Under Armour’s lack of international presence was their focus on core sports. Under Armour founder, Kevin Plank, was a former football player at the University of Maryland and wanted to make a moisture wicking shirt he could wear under his football pads. This of course set Under Armour back in the international market because football is typically and American sport only. Take Nike for example, their focus international is with running and basketball, both of which are very popular international sports that are continuing to grow (Dreier, 2012).
The last major reason we found for Under Armour’s weak international presence is they made no real effort to market them overseas. Nike has a $2.7 billion marketing budget, a large portion of which goes to international marketing (Nike, 2012). It is clear that in order to match Nike’s international market share Under Armour must increase their budget for international marketing.
Although Under Armour’s international presence is extremely weak, they are making very big moves to help extend it. One move Under Armour made this past year was hiring former Adidas head of International Operations, Karl –Heinz Marauth, to be head of their internal operations. This was an important move for Under Armour because Karl has had years of experience both in Europe and Asia and will bring expertise and insight to the Under Armour team. This move shows that Under Armour is determined to go global and is putting people in the right position to do so. As of February 12, 2013 Under Armour has started their first multi-million dollar international marketing campaign (Dreier, 2012). This will obviously help get their name across the Atlantic, but it also shows again their recognition and determination to fix the problem.
Lastly, the Under Armour team is starting to get endorsement deals with teams and players in Europe. Their biggest endorsement move was sponsoring the Tottenham Hotspurs, an English soccer team in England’s most competitive league. Having the Under Armour logo on one of England’s most iconic soccer teams will introduce the brand to many new customers who otherwise did not even know the company existed. According Forbes, Under Armour has also sponsored Tottenham’s defender Michael Dawson, as well as the Welsh Rugby league and the Israeli Maccabi Tel Aviv soccer team and Greece’s Aris FC soccer team (Dreier, 2012). This will help boost brand recognition in the youth especially who look up to these athletes and aspire to excel like them.
Sharp Consulting was asked to take a look at Under Armour’s biggest competition in the sports apparel industry. The two companies that run the market are Nike Inc., and Adidas Group. The three most important topics to analyze were brand awareness, core sports, and international marketing efforts. As of right now, Under Armour is far behind both Nike and Adidas in these categories.
Nike is Known Worldwide
Sharp Consulting took a look at Nike’s brand awareness and how the maturity and international store locations have contributed to their success. Nike was founded on January 25th 1964, and has been an iconic sports apparel brand on a global level. This means Nike has been around for almost 50 years, which has given them a substantial head start over Under Armour for building brand equity. Many people have come to know Nike as a global leader in the sports performance apparel industry and turn to them as their first choice of sports apparel. According to Nike’s company website the headquarters for their European, Middle Eastern, and African (EMEA) locations is in Hilversum Netherlands (Nike Inc, 2013). This helps to build the company’s brand awareness because having a headquarters oversees helps better identify the needs and wants of their international customers.
Under Armour currently has two headquarters, one in the United States, and the other in the Netherlands. The Netherlands headquarters has started to make the attempt in introducing Under Armour into Europe. It is extremely hard for Under Armour to recognize the buying preferences and habits of the international market without doing substantial research and development. Nike on the other hand just has to ask its EMEA employers what they think of new products since the majority of them are local to the Netherlands and Europe. In fact according to their company website Nike has more than 1,400 employees, made up of 68 nationalities, working for their EMEA district alone (Nike Inc., 2013). Nike has a significant lead over Under Armour in international brand awareness because the company has distributed many store and factory locations all over the globe making sure everyone in the world recognizes the Nike “swoosh”.
From the Track to the Court
We took a look at how the core sports Nike focused on has helped their company grow in the international market. When Nike started, their focus was on more international sports such as track, soccer, basketball, and golf, compared to Under Armour who focuses mainly on more American sports such as Football. According to their company website, Nike was started when University Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman and track star Phil Knight sought out to design a track shoe that would give Oregon runners a competitive advantage over their competition (Nike Inc., 2013). This was an ideal sport for Nike to start their focus on because running is one of the most global sports in the world. Take the Olympics; the track events have the most diversified starting lines in the world with a flag from almost every country. According to their company website, Nike currently holds 47% of the shoe industry worldwide (Nike Inc, 2013). That means that almost 1 out of every 2 individuals prefer Nike shoes to the rest.
Nike also aims its international focus on soccer; the world’s most popular sport. Nike has team sponsors such as Manchester United, one of the most historic soccer clubs in the world. In fact, they recently clinched their 16th league title in team history. According to United’s fan made website, they have a 5 year endorsement deal with Nike that ends in 2015 and pays United 38 million Euros a year. Nike is suspected to try to extend this deal another 13 years and increase their endorsement to 74 million Euros per season (Wicknes, 2013).
Lastly, Nike extends its focuses on golf, which is another globally recognized sport. Almost every other week there is a golf tournament on TV, and each one has hundreds of contestants that come from all over the world to play. Nike just recently stole elite golfer, Rory McIlroy from his Oakley sponsorship and brought him to the Nike team along Tiger Woods. Not only does Nikes gold reach influence international expansion but it is also a great source of revenue. Golf equipment is very expensive, in fact the average price for a set of Nike irons is $699.99 (Golfsmith 2013), so not only is Nike getting international recognition from their sponsors, but it is also another huge source of revenue thy are bringing in. The importance of having international sponsors cannot be overstated. It is common knowledge that people tend to gravitate towards brands they see their idols wearing or using. Over the last 50 years Nike has been strategic with the sponsors they chose to represent their brands, and as you can see it has paid off because Nike seems to be involved in every sport found on TV.
International Marketing Efforts
The last category we took a look at was Nike’s international marketing campaign. Nike describes its marketing campaign as “the world’s most distinctive, authentic and connected brand in sports” (McCormick, 2013). Most of Nikes international success can be contributed to their usage of global web operations. Jim McCormick from Lionbridge.com found that their web operations connect Nike with 190 different countries and he said he’s seen substantial growth in China, India and Brazil. This is key to Nike’s success because China, India and Brazil represent huge markets that need to be tapped into. Each country is considered to have extremely large populations, as well as having a developing middle class, which is a prime target market for Nike. Another important move Nike has made was the launch of their social media marketing campaign in 2012. Since that time Nike has gained 80,000 more Facebook fans than Adidas and has set up a Twitter feed to work as a customer service line (McCormick 2013). As of 1998 Nike spends about $1.13 billion on advertising with sponsored celebrities such as Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, and they spend about $800 million on nontraditional marketing other than TV (Cendorwski, 2013). Clearly Nike is in a better position to market their brand than Under Armour simply because they have the funds and resources to do so. In 2012, Under Armour constructed their first multimillion-dollar marketing campaign ever. To Nike a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign is a normal operating cost.
Adidas is known
Adidas was first envisioned by Adi Dassler in 1920 and it became a registered company on August 18th, 1949 (“At a Glance,” 2013). Adidas has had over 60 years to analyze and cater to the sports apparel market. As of 2013 Adidas has purchased several other companies to expand its brand image including Ashworth, TaylorMade and Reebok, which owns Rockport and CCM Hockey (“Brands”, 2013). The companies TaylorMade and CCM Hockey specifically are of the best brands for both golf and hockey respectively. Now known as Adidas Group, the company employs over 46,000 people and generates over 19 billion dollars in sales (Adidas Group, 2012). Adidas Group has several locations throughout the world including, its headquarters in Germany, International Trading in Amsterdam, and for specific countries in Russia, Japan, and China (Adidas Group, 2013). All of the companies that make up Adidas Group still have their headquarters in the United States and Canada (“At a Glance,” 2013). By having all of these different locations Adidas Group can learn about what different cultures are looking for when purchasing sports apparel. For a size comparison, both Reebok and TaylorMade are just as large as Under Armour and they each only make up about 9% of Adidas Group’s sales (“At a Glance,” 2013).
Since Adidas started out in Germany it made sense for its initial focus to be on the extremely popular sport of soccer, and track & field. Adi Dassler developed the first specialized shoes with removable spikes and studs in 1920 (“The Adidas Story,” 2013). Adidas went on to create its first shoes with molded rubber studs in 1949. By the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, Adidas shoes had become so popular that 75% of all track and field athletes relied on Adidas shoes (“The Adidas Story,” 2013). Adidas continued on to slowly add more sports to its brand. Today Adidas Group makes apparel for all sports, but it never lost its initial focus on soccer. In 2010, Adidas sponsored the entire FIFA World Cup event in South Africa. The company also sponsored one third of the teams competing in the event (Holger Elfes, Matt Townsend, 2010).
Adidas Group also has a large name in basketball. While most basketball players wear Nike brand sneakers, Adidas is the official outfitter of the NBA, supplying all of the jerseys (“At a Glance”, 2013). In golf, Adidas Group is getting its share. Between Adidas golf, TaylorMade, Ashworth, and Adams Golf, Adidas Group generates over 1.7 billion dollars in sales (Adidas Group, 2012). By being around for so long, Adidas has been able to make strategic moves into almost every major sport.
International Marketing Efforts
Adidas Group has been able to appeal to the international market through its presence in sports that are very popular internationally. Adidas has also split its main company into several smaller groups with a more focused look. There are Adidas Sport Performance, Adidas Originals, and Adidas Sport Style. Adidas Sport Performance focuses on making athletes better in five key sports Soccer, Basketball, Running, Training and Outdoor (“At a Glance” 2013). Adidas Originals is the authentic, iconic label for the street, and its philosophy is to “Celebrate Originality” (“At a Glance”, 2013). Adidas Sport Style is the “Future of Sportswear” and it includes several labels including, Y-3, Porsche Design Sport, Adidas SLVR and Adidas NEO. Its positioning statement is “Style your Life” (“At a Glance,” 2013).
Adidas group comprises of several other companies each with their own focus. There is Five Ten, a leader in performance, high-friction footwear. This includes everything from rock climbing to wingsuit flying; the footwear for the world’s most dangerous sports (“At a Glance,” 2013). TaylorMade, Ashworth, and Adidas golf all focus on creating the best golf equipment. CCM and Reebok hockey cover hockey, and Reebok is similar to Adidas with apparel in all sports. Every company focuses on key markets. For example, CCM and Reebok hockey focus is on Canada, USA, Scandinavia, and Russia. These countries are where the majority of hockey is played. By acquiring new brands, Adidas Group is able to grow and stay innovative. Each company that gets added to the group offers new research and products to appeal to the global market.
After taking a look at how Under Armour compares to its competition, Sharp Consulting took a look at how Under Armour is as a company.
Sharp Consulting did a SWOT analysis of Under Armour to analyze its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. We found that while there are plenty of threats, Under Armour is growing stronger every quarter.
In this section we took a look at Under Armour’s strengths.
Under Armour is about new and innovative products. Under Armour started with the initial goal to make a superior athletic T-shirt. Under Armour is not just a sports apparel company but it is the “originator of performance apparel- gear engineered to keep athletes cool, dry and light throughout the course of a game, practice, or a workout” (“About Under Armour”, 2013) The marketing for the performance apparel has also been done with a very simple mentality. There are three basic shirt lines, “Heatgear® for when it’s hot, Coldgear® for in the cold, and AllSeasonGear® for between the extremes” (“About Under Armour,” 2013). Since then Under Armour has expanded from making T-shirts to making sports apparel for several sports and created its own shoe line. The most recent big innovation to come from Under Armour is Armour39. Armour39 is a performance monitor that allows people to see how intense they are about their workouts. Another unique thing about this new product is that there is an actual on-boarding process that measures maximum heart rate, recovery rate, and ventilatory threshold (Peter Ha, 2013).
Getting to them while they’re young. One of the best things that Under Armour has done is market and sponsor colleges and universities. This strategy helps Under Armour get athletes to wear its apparel and secure brand loyalty for those that make the move to professional sports. This also helps Under Armour make endorsement deals with some of the best athletes. An example of this is Cam Newton, star quarterback at Auburn University and current quarterback of the Carolina Panthers. Under Armour sponsors most of the universities near its headquarters in Baltimore, MD, including the Maryland Terrapins, Towson Tigers, Loyola Greyhounds, and UMBC Retrievers.
In this section we analyzed Under Armour’s weaknesses.
Narrow focus prevents new growth. After the success of Under Armour’s innovative T-shirts, the company went more into the sports apparel industry. Since Kevin Plank was a college football player it made sense for the company to move in the direction of football apparel. “In 1999, Warner Bros contracted Under Armour to outfit its actors for two upcoming football movies, Any Given Sunday and The Replacements” (“Our History, 2013). While this was a good way for the company to find a niche it has also created a problem with international brand recognition. Under Armour has attempted to take its brand to all sports however it is hard to overcome the brand loyalty that other companies have. If Under Armour hopes to overtake companies like Nike and Adidas then it has to greatly increase international sales and focus on sports that have greater appeal.
Male domination accounts for only half of the market. When Under Armour first started up as a company it catered heavily towards young male athletes. This has created a problem because Under Armour was only creating products for half of the population. Under Armour’s first attempt to create a women's line was not very successful. Under Armour attempted to “shrink it and pink it” but “Taking the men’s style and cutting it down to fit women didn’t make it look finished, and they weren’t cute by any stretch” (Elizabeth Olson, 2010). Currently the problem has shifted to distributing womens clothing. The majority of Under Armour products are sold at stores such as Dicks Sporting Goods Inc. and Sports Authority Inc. Neither of those are common destinations for women nor neither are Under Armour’s 100 outlet locations and five full-price stores (Matt Townsend, 2013).
In this section Sharp Consulting took a look at opportunities for Under Armour.
Competitive pricing could bring more customers. Compared to its competitors, Nike and Adidas, Under Armour’s product prices are relatively high. For a Men’s HeatGear Flyweight Shortsleeve shirt Under Armour charges $32.99 (UnderArmour.com, 2013). Nike’s substitute DriFit ShortSleeve shirt costs only $22.00 (Nike.com, 2013). This gives Under Armour a huge opportunity to gain market share. Many consumers are already loyal to UA for the quality of their product and if they were to lower their prices they would become more competitive inside the market.
More core sports means more gear. Under Armour has made their name mainly as a football product. Player wears Under Armour heat and cold gear product to help reduce the amount of moister on their clothing during competitions. However these products could be used for almost every sport. Marketing their products to baseball, soccer, lacrosse and hockey players could help them gain more brand recognition and expand to sports that are more internationally oriented.
Increase number of outlet and factory stores. Currently Under Armour has 89 company owned stores, of which 84 are factory outlet stores (Stern, 2012). Nike on the other hand currently has 155 outlet stores open in the U.S. and plans to open 250-300 globally over the next five years (Olivarez-Giles, 2012). The advantage of having outlet stores is that you can sell a variety of different products under one brand and expose consumers to a number of products they didn’t even know exist. This also allows the consumer to see what he/she is buying before the purchase and gives them instant gratification of walking out of the store with the product they purchased.
The last section of the SWOT analysis analyzes potential threats.
Recession leads to bad economic times for all. Under Armours products are mostly classified as “performance apparel” which poses a major threat to them. Given the nature of their products, sales could drop dramatically if consumers are dealing with financial strain (Trefis, 2012). Because Under Armour market their products as performance apparel they are able to charge higher prices for their products, however if consumers don’t have the capital to pay for these products they are likely to search for substitute goods offered at a cheaper price.
People’s opinions change. Another eternal threat Under Armour faces is a change in consumer preferences. Because Under Armours sales continue to grow at a dramatic it seems as if consumers are more focused on the quality of the product instead of the price. However if this consumer mind state were to reverse and consumers became more focused on price when, Under Armours sales could take the opposite turn. That being said Under Armour needs to keep a sharp eye on consumer’s preferences and make sure that their company goals and operations align with these preferences.
There is a lot of competition. As shown above with the discussion on Under Armours prices compared to Nike they face immense competition among other firm in the industry. Nike offers a product almost identical to Under Armour’s heat and coldgear called DriFit. This has become extremely popular on a profession level as many NFL football players are seen using this product. This is mainly due to Nike’s endorsement over the NFL however Under Armour no longer holds a competitive advantage with this product. Under Armour is also virtually non-existent in the shoe industry because competitors Nike, Rebook and Adidas control the market. Under Armour must underline the benefits of choosing their products over the competitors in order to maintain a loyal customer base.
In this section of our report we are focusing on the sports apparel market as a whole and its growth potential. Through our research we have found that the market is expected to grow dramatically and we predict Under Armour will grow along with it as shown in their continued revenue growth since the founding of the company. We will also look into barriers of entry the market poses as well as our target market and marketing mix that comes along with it.
Table 1 below compares Under Armours market share to that of other competitors in the industry. As you can see our market share is relatively small compared to the competition.
Table 1. Market Share Percentage 2012
Note. Market Share. Adapted from Textiles, Apparel & Luxury Goods, Charles Schwab. Adapted with permission.
Table 1 shows the percent of market share Under Armour and its competitors have. Under Armour currently holds 5% of the total market. While it is less than most of its major competition, Under Armour has been increasing its market share each year.
Under Armour Shows Great Growth Potential
Under Armour is currently in the growth stage. “The company has posted 10 consecutive quarters of 20%-plus year-over-year sales growth.” (Trefis Team, 2012). Nearly all of that growth has occurred domestically. Since 2003, Under Armour’s market share in just the domestic sports apparel market has increased from 0.6% to nearly 3%. (para 2). As Under Armour continues to innovate and expand, their market share should continue to steadily increase. Showing that the company is staying innovative, in 2011, Under Armour introduced “Charged Cotton;” a product that helps accelerate evaporation of moisture. (para 2). Over this same period, Nike’s market share has stayed fairly flat around 7% (para 2).
Market is Continuing to Grow
There is potential for growth in the market. Currently, there are new markets opening up in Asia and Latin America for companies to expand their product. Under Armour already distributes in Japan through a partner. However, currently “Under Armour generates 94% of its revenue from North America” (Townsend, 2012). In the market, sports apparel has expanded from being mostly male dominated to getting closer to an even split between men and women. In Under Armour’s position, women will be a huge market to be able to expand into. According To NPD Group, “women’s athletic apparel category is about 10 percent larger in the U.S.” (Matt Townsend, 2012). The company has almost doubled its revenues from 2010 with an estimated $2 billion in sales for 2013. (Matt Townsend, 2012). “In 2012 however, women’s sales accounted for only $400 million, less than half the sales of men’s.” (Matt Townsend, 2012). To work on distribution, Under Armour has placed some of its women’s line in department stores such as Macy’s Inc. and Nordstrom Inc.” (Matt Townsend, 2012). Kevin Plank has stated, “What Gap did for going to school, or going out on a Friday night, is the same thing we should do for sending people to the gym. Most people look awful going to the gym.” (Matt Townsend, 2012).
Market Issues/ Barriers
Now that we have looked at the growth potential the market has to offer, we are going to look at the barriers Under Armour faces when trying to enter into the market. There are many different barriers of entry however we are only going to focus on the three major barriers in this report, which are lack of patents, failure to protect intellectual property, and Under Armour’s heavy reliance on information systems. Although Under Armour faces many barriers we feel they are more than capable of overcoming these barriers and are still in a great position to grow.
Fabrics and manufacturing technologies are not patented.
We currently does not have any patents on their moister wicking fabric or manufacturing technologies and techniques, and as a result competitors have imitated our products (Under Armour Inc, 2012). Because Under Armour does not have the same financial leverage as its competitors, their competitors are able to manufacture, market and distribute similar products at cheaper costs and as a result are able to sell their substitute goods at a lower price. This poses a problem for Under Armour when trying to enter the global market because in the U.S. they have relied heavily on their product differentiation advertising their apparel as performance apparel. When Under Armour first introduced its HeatGear shirt no one else in the industry had a similar product. Under Armour gained its brand recognition by being the first to develop this product. However, they do not have this same brand recognition overseas and as a result competitors have already introduced their substitute products and have stolen a large share of the market away from Under Armour.
Failure to Protect Intellectual Property Rights. Under Armour currently relies on a combination of copyright, trademark and trade dress laws, patent laws, unfair competition laws, confidentiality procedures and licensing arrangements to establish and protect our intellectual property rights (Under Armour Inc. 2012). These steps taken by Under Armour may not be adequate enough to protect their product lines from imitation and misrepresentation of their brand. Also, depending on different law enforcement practice in foreign countries, Under Armour’s intellectual property may not be protected or may be limited. This could adversely affect its brand image and could sway consumer preferences into choosing substitute products. Under Armour must maintain the same brand image they have created in North American to secure customer loyalty in foreign countries and maintain its competitive advantage.
Under Armour Relies Heavily on Information Systems to run its Business. Under Armour relies heavily on information systems to manage and maintain its inventory, internal reports and shipping and billing to customers (Under Armour Inc. 2012). If these systems were to fail, Under Armour would be unable to run its business efficiently and effectively. They must also keep their information secure. With a growing presence in hacker and data thieves Under Armour could face major costs in making up for these breaches.
Now that we have focused on the market as a whole and our position in the market, we are going to look at the primary and secondary markets Under Armour targets as well as their marketing mix. Under Armour focuses on a homogenous target market that isn’t restricted by boundaries, thus helping us expand globally.
Table 2 below highlights the demographics of our target market. The percentages represents how much consumers in our target market contributed to total sales of the survey. We focuses of males and females from the age of 18-34 who purchased shirts $50 or under in 2012.
Table 2. Consumers Who Purchased Shirts Under $50 in 2012
Under Armour’s primary target market is a high performing athlete on the high school, collegiate, and professional levels (Under Armour Inc. 2012). The age of this target market ranges from 15 to 30 and the income level is middle to upper-middle class individuals. According to the MRI Reporter, there were 230,416 adults who purchased sports t-shirts under the price of $50 in 2011 (MRI Reporter, 2011). Adults ages 18-34 represented 30.7% of this sample (MRI Reporter, 2011). Consumers who are employed made up 59.7% of these individuals and 47.5% of the individuals had income levels between $50,000 and $149,999 (MRI Reporter, 2011). 27.3% of the individuals graduated college and 44.8% did not attend college (MRI Reporter, 2011). This data only reflects the behavioral habits for U.S. consumers however it shows a consistent trend that consumers in our target market make up a substantial portion of people buying these shirts. According to a survey about consumer confidence by The Conference Board, consumer confidence is on the rise and the number of people saying business conditions are “good” has increased while the number of people saying business conditions are “bad” has decreased (The Conference Board 2013). This helps Under Armour’s potential growth because consumers don’t see Under Amour’s prices as being too high.
Secondary Target Market- Everyday Athletes and Young Children
As a result of the primary target market, Under Armour will be able to target several other segments, such as casual athletes and young children who idolize athletes. Casual athletes refer to anyone who enjoys playing sports or working out, however do not do it at a competitive level. Under Armour products will intrigue them because they will see athletes on higher levels wearing apparel and using equipment and will want to use the same brand the professionals use. They will feel that professionals are wearing the best apparel in the market to enhance their skills, so they should do the same. In addition young children who look up to certain athlete will want the products as well. Young children often look up to athletes and celebrities and tend to mimic what they see their idols doing or wearing. Also they will want to buy these products because they will think it will help propel them to the next level.
Evaluation of Marketing Mix
This section focuses on our products, pricing strategy, distribution strategy, and promotion strategy. Under Armour relies heavily on their innovative products which helps them use a strategic pricing strategy to portray their products as high performance apparel and products, they rely on wholesalers to distribute their products, and an assortment of intimidating advertisements to promote their brand.
Under Armour started off with making a new innovative moisture wicking shirt. Since its original product, the company has expanded to making athletic apparel and footwear for all sports. As a result, Uner Armour relies less on their compression gear, which makes up 14% of apparel revenue, compared to 64% when it went public. (Matt Townsend, 2012). Under Armour has pushed its products to become the official footwear supplier of the MLB and partnered with the NBA to be able to market athletes wearing their jerseys and footwear. (Trefis Team, 2012). Recently Under Armour has expanded its women’s line and launched Armour Bra and Studio brands. (Trefis Team, 2012).
By having a premium product, Under Armour is able to charge more than other companies. Kevin Plank told investors that raising consumer expectations of what a product can be has “enabled us to bring new price points to retail.” (Petah Marian, 2011). “Plank’s challenge from the start was to convince teams that though $25 for a T-shirt was pricey, it would hold up better in the long run than the standard cotton fare.” (Daniel Roberts, 2011). This strategy has worked for Under Armour. While the pricing of their products is typically higher than that of the competition, consumers want and are willing to pay for the best product.
Wholesalers are the Main Distribution Channel
Under Armour’s distribution channel has been primarily wholesalers with about %70 of it sales coming from this channel (Trefis Team, 2012). The main customers in this channel are Dicks Sporting Goods and Sports Authority contributing to 26% of wholesale sales (Trefis Team, 2012). This channel meets the needs of its target market because many athletes frequent these stores to buy equipment and apparel for their upcoming season. This also helps Under Armour with marketing because wholesale stores will advertise product lines and has sales that will bring in new customers. A better channel for Under Armour to sell through would be its own factory store. As of December 2012, Under Armour had about 75 store locations in the U.S. (Trefis Team, 2012). However CEO Kevin Plank plans to add 20-25 stores. This way they can sell their own products and offer a greater variety than what would be offered at whole ale stores.
Dark and Intimidating Promotional Techniques
Under Armour uses strategic marketing techniques to adhere to its target market (M. Bernath, 2013). Under Armour uses the “I Will” slogan to portray an image that its products will make athletes play better, look better, and be more feared by opponents. Under Armour’s uses more dark ads to target both male and female athletes, its most famous one being of a football team jumping in a circle screaming “We must protect this house” followed by “I will, I will, I will”. This gives athletes the idea that buying its products will indeed help teams “protect their house”. Another main source of promotions are the recent ads on TV where Under Armour features several of their sponsored athletes playing sports. This addresses the younger crowds that are looking up to these athletes aspiring to be like them. Under Armour also sponsors various sporting events such as the NFL Combine and the high school football All-American Game. Sponsoring these events allows athletes demo its existing and new products and in turn they give Under Armour feedback on the quality of these products so they can make the necessary changes to adhere to its target market. Lastly, Under Armour benefits from the promotion of wholesalers like we mentioned above. Sports Authority and Dicks Sporting Goods both advertise that the sell the Under Armour brand further helping to promote the brand.
Major Problems/ Issues Under Armour Faces
Through our research we have concluded Under Armour faces three main issues when trying to expand globally; they do not have any patents on their products, they focus on the wrong sports, and the distribute mainly through wholesalers. Although these problems seem intense it well in Under Armours ability to take steps to mitigate these issues.
Now that we have identified Under Armours main issues limited their international expansion, we are going to suggest ways they can counteract these issues. Because Under Armour does not have any patents their products have been imitated and sold at a lower price. Under Armour must keep up its innovative stride by researching and developing new products to introduce into the market. This will bring back the brand image that Under Armour is a industry leader in innovating new sports apparel and products. Next we suggest that Under Armour puts more focus towards international sports such as soccer and running. Both of these sports are played throughout the world and are not restricted by any boarders. This will bring Under Armour into new markets with in the sports apparel industry. Because we are a “performance” apparel company, we can steal away customers from our competitors who are going to want superior products. Lastly, we suggest that Under Armour builds more retail factory outlets where they can sell their own products from their own location and take away from the brand competition created when shopping at wholesale stores. In factory stores we will be able to sell a wider variety of Under Armour products exposing consumers to all of our different innovations and benefits from our company.
In conclusion we feel Under Armour is in a great position to expand globally. The sports apparel market is expected to grow substantially in the near future and Under Armour has continued to grow exponentially since it was first founded. From that we can conclude that Under Armour will continue to grow with and within the market, and as the company matures, so will their market share as a result.
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