Under Armour traditionally has been a male brand. Personally, I like the brand and always found the clothing to be well designed and engineered - right down to the fabric. The clothing lasts forever and either keep the heat in or out - depending on what you choose. They make great clothes!
I also like them because they have innovative beginnings that are product focus, making a breakthrough in athletic wear:
As a fullback at the University of Maryland, Plank got tired of having to change out of the sweat-soaked T-shirts worn under his jersey; however, he noticed that his compression shorts worn during practice stayed dry. This inspired him to make a T-shirt using moisture-wicking synthetic fabric. After graduating from the University of Maryland, Plank developed his first prototype of the shirt, which he gave to his Maryland teammates and friends who had gone on to play in the NFL. Plank soon perfected the design creating a new T-shirt built from microfibers that wicked moisture and kept athletes cool, dry, and light. Major competing brands including Nike, Adidas and Reebok would soon follow in Plank's footsteps with their own version of Under Armour's moisture-wicking apparel.
Nike designs and engineers great shoes and makes fashionable athletic clothes. They make some of the best shoes on the market, although Under Armour is now challenging that.
I should also say that I had the chance to meet and workout with Team USA Women's Soccer Olympian (and Under Armour endorser) Heather Mitts recently, who told me Under Armour running shoes were "by far" the best shoe she has ever worn for serious runners and athletes. I was already wearing UA shoes at the time, so I don't think she was trying to "sell" me.
--NIKE VS UNDER ARMOUR, TheFitnessChamp.com
Products aside, Under Armour has adopted a tag line for a women's ad campaign that is seriously booting Nike in the pants.
The model, Gisele, did an ad segment with them. At first, you think she's just a model, does she really work out? Doesn't she, like, just not eat? Like, eat just a carrot for dinner?
I saw the Web site. I dare anyone to hold a plank like she did for that long. I dare you to try it! (Personally, I hold it for a minute at best.) She's a machine and I respect her for that.
Under Armour created a site for women that lets us track and share workout activity and performance with others. When you work out, it's key to be part of a community - not to compete, but to watch the actions of others and see what's possible. I get motivated watching other people workout hard and achieve great things. It makes me realize that doing about 100 crunches and squats will get me to where I want to be - body-wise, mind-wise, and endurance-wise. This was brilliant on their part.
Nike's just do it campaign is great and has a ton of variations, and it has grown beyond women achieving more to become a proverb, so to speak. It's excellent.
However, Under Armour evolved it.
Under Armour won Marketer of the Year for Ad Age. Why?
The goal was to celebrate women "who had the physical and mental strength to tune out the external pressures and turn inward and chart their own course." They took Nike's story one step further....
At the rate it's going, Under Armour might "just do it." While Nike's sales are still 10 times larger, Under Armour, in the 12 months ending in August, increased revenue at three times Nike's pace, Bloomberg reported in early September. It's "well on its way to becoming the second-largest global athletic brand, ultimately eclipsing Adidas," Canaccord Genuity stated in a Dec. 1 report to investors, projecting the company would surpass $10 billion in sales within five years.
--E.J. Schultz, Ad Age's 2014 Marketer of the Year: Under Armour, Ad Age
Their approach is working. What did Under Armour do?
- They sell a vision and an experience. Nike taught us to do it; Under Armour shows us that in the face of adversity - rejection, illness, any personal challenge - there are women out there who have overcome their problems and succeeded. They show possibility and become role models for breaking through boundaries to achieve any goal. It's a positive message and story - and who doesn't like a positive champion who wins in some way?
- They are paving their own path to #1. What's the saying - don't compete, stand out? They aren't really competing with Nike because they are taking a slightly different angle. And they have slightly different products. They aren't copying the competition; they aren't using them as a baseline for parity; they are paving their own way using marketing best practices - a great tag line and a new vision for the target audience. It's almost like their ad campaign mirrors how the company operates.
- They are about the products. That's what I have always liked about Under Armour - you are buying not just stylish athletic gear, it has another function. Knowing that your clothing will keep you dry while you sweat is a bonus; or keep you warm in the cold when you sweat. You don't just look good - you feel good. And their clothes last forever. They use great athletic technology. If you don't have a good product, then you won't go far. This is why UA is going far.
This approach even has the financial analysts roaring:
Under Armour is broadly successful at gaining market participation via high-quality products and a strategy of permanent innovation, and the company has enormous room for growth by expanding into different sport disciplines and geographical markets in the years ahead.
--Andrés Cardenal, Best Buy in Sports Apparel: Nike, Under Armour, or Lululemon? Fool.com
I can see why they won Marketer of the Year. What are your thoughts?