Under Armour and Over the Top: A Growth Story


Vice President , Business Development


On Monday, the Motley Fool reported this about sports clothing retailer Under Armour: “The massive wave of success that athletic apparel, footwear, and accessories manufacturer Under Armour is currently riding shows no sign of stopping anytime soon.”

Routinely included in lists of hot stocks to watch and most innovative retailers, Under Armour is now perched to lead another area of business, one that for many years has been dominated by Nike: brand awareness.

So what do you know about Under Armour’s market positioning? Here are five things they’re doing right.

1. Under Armour Is Increasing Spending on Marketing. Big Time.

During this quarter’s conference call, Chairman and CEO Kevin Plank told analysts he expected to allocate fully 11% of revenues to marketing, or $330 million. That is an $83.5 million increase over a year ago, and a $125 million rise from 2012. Even though that’s a significant figure, it pales in comparison to rival Nike, which spent $2.7 billion globally on advertising and promotions during its most recent fiscal year, according to its annual report.

2. They’re Focusing on the Youth Market


Under Armour is spending a lot of time addressing it’s next generation of customers. They have a full collection of kids’ offerings, and support youth training camps and the Junior PGA Tour. UA’s Youth Movement campaign is “dedicated to promoting youth fitness and sports by providing young athletes with places to become champions.” And they support students in their home state with WIN Baltimore, a program designed to spark positive social change throughout Baltimore and its surrounding neighborhoods. They also, in partnership with the National Basketball Association, refurbish basketball courts across the country.

3.  Sponsorships Big and Small

Speaking of millennials, Under Armour has a groundbreaking association with twenty-year-old golf phenom Jordan Spieth. They were the first company to sponsor Spieth and he’s the the first golfer to be outfitted head-to-toe in Under Armour gear. Most recently, they began sponsoring Notre Dame, taking the school sponsorships rights from Adidas after 17 years. And this is to say nothing of it’s big-name sponsorships. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps are both proudly clad in Under Armour apparel. Finally, Under Armour has done deals with some less obvious athletic entities, like the Canadian Olympic Snowboarding team and the U.S. Olympic bobsledding team — and a Chilean soccer club — that could bolster its popularity in more niche sporting communities, as well as outside the United States.

4. It’s Groundbreaking “I Will” Campaign.


Last year, Under Armour unveiled its biggest marketing campaign to date, showcasing inspiring athletes oufitted in the company’s products. The campaign, dubbed “I Will,” includes athletes like Canelo Alvarez, boxing’s welterweight World Champion; Sloane Stephens, the only teenager ranked in the top 20 in the Women’s Tennis Association; and Bryce Harper, the reigning National League Rookie of the Year.

5. It’s New York “Brand House” Is Awesome.
Under Armour hopes to attract international tourists and other visitors to its two-level store, which has nearly 10,000 square feet of selling space in the Astor Building in SOHO. The location features an enormous digital marquee displaying a 22-minute video of products and athletes, a “living wall” of tropical plants, and an athlete wall of fame and mannequins showcasing head-to-toe looks. The Brand House will feature apparel for training, basketball, golf and other sports as well as the women’s line of Studio workout clothing. The store employs 100 full- and part-time workers and managers.

Under Armour has been a phenomenal growth story over the last decade and it’s groundbreaking marketing efforts suggest that sportswear giants better look out. Under Armour is definitely not under the radar.