It all started with a simple idea back in 1996: to make a superior t-shirt for athletes. Under Armour founder Kevin Plank, a former football player for the University of Maryland, worked in his grandmother’s basement in Washington, D.C. and traveled up and down the country selling his revolutionary new product out of the trunk of his car. Now almost two decades later and seemingly out of nowhere, Under Armour has managed to break into the top ranks of the sports apparel industry. Its sales have steadily increased, totaling $2.33 billion last year. How did it manage to do this? According to an article in Washington Post, Under Armour took a few wise moves to get near the ranks of large sports retail companies.
Under Armour’s Snag to Glory
First, it focused on innovation and performance. These days, sports apparel often qualifies as high fashion as many big name brands have shifted to making fashion pieces out of their active wear. Under Armour has chosen not to follow this trend. Instead, it has zeroed in on the athletics part of athletic wear, concentrating more on the long-term perception of the brand as being innovative.
The company has also capitalized on targeting youngsters for their products – making available a wide selection of kids’ offerings and even sponsoring many youth training camps. Most kids are not as attached to specific brands as many adults are so they are more willing to try relatively unknown brands that are out in the market.
Like any other company, however, Under Armour has had its fair share of marketing flops and product fails. What it does right though is it quickly fixes its mistakes. When its sports bras and compression shorts flopped in the early 2000s, it quickly re-launched a campaign with stylish pieces aimed at young women. Now, women account for nearly a third of the company’s sales.
Getting good sponsorships have also bolstered sales for the brand. Although it originally veered away from expensive campaigns, Under Armour has now picked up some notable names, including Notre Dame, Patriots star Tom Brady, and Olympic champion Michael Phelps.
Finally, Under Armour is slowly venturing overseas – a big market opportunity that is largely dominated by Nike. Stores have opened in China and the company is looking into other countries in which to open more stores. This only goes to show that this is one underdog people (and other sports retailers) should look out for.