Performance products have always been at the heart of the Under Armor brand, since the founder and CEO Kevin Plank launched the company from his grandmother's basement with soccer player sweatshirts.
A few years ago, Under Armor began to recognize that if it wanted to grow into a real competitor for giants like Nike and Adidas, it would also have to nail style and make products that also worked outside the gym as in it. Its efforts, including a sportswear line with designer Tim Coppens, have not been linked as Under Armor hopes (paywall).
Now Plank looks back to Under Armor's past for the key to its future success.
But a renewed focus on performance may not be the easiest way to jumpstarting sales again – consumers – especially those in the United States, accounting for about 72% of Under Armor's sales in 2018 – still buys lots of sports-inspired athleisure, but not so many clean performance items. For example, on footwear, the research firm NPD Group recently reported that performance shoe sales fell in the US in the third year.
how often they exercise and 60% off People who wear active clothing often, never exercise, "Matt Powell, NPD's vice president and sports industry analyst, told Quartz. "In footwear we asked people who bought a sports shoe," What do you intend to do in these shoes? "And in 2018, only 16% of the people who bought a sports shoe said they should be doing sports in these shoes."
These figures indicate that performance may not be the top feature most people seek when They buy sneakers and active clothes these days, which naturally presents a challenge to a performance-oriented brand. Powell notes that it is still possible for a performance brand to do well in this climate and point to companies like Brooks Running and Hoka. (These companies are also much smaller than Under Armor hopes to be.)
Plank pointed to the call that the company is aware of market developments and customers' desire for athletes. But under Armor, he said, "was born in the field," and he believes that performance is where his company can set itself apart.
He pointed out the company's recently announced project to design and produce "technical space clothes" for Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson's space tourism firm, as an example. All the technologies developed to create space noise will be used in products that Under Armor will have commercially available this year.
He also featured Under Armor & # 39; s line of signature basketball shoes with NBA star Stephen Curry. Their court performance is what should make a boy carry them out of court too, he insisted not to mention Curry's star force. Although performance basketball shoes do not sell much for off-court use at the moment.
Under Armor does not leave efforts to build his style game. A nice look is "table stakes", says Plank.
But the company will focus more on ensuring that customers know that all Under Armor products are doing something to make them work better. According to Plank: "That's what makes us and gives us our DNA and gives us our reason to be."