Under Armour wants to break away from the traditional route to market via sportswear retailers such as JD Sports and Footlocker. It also wants to be less reliant on its sponsorship deals with Tottenham and the Welsh Rugby Union for exposure.
Speaking to Marketing Week, Chris Carroll, global marketing director for Under Armour EMEA, says customer experience is a key focus for the business because it needs to leverage its premium credentials to a wider audience.
He adds: “All the products we make are designed to make the athlete better, but we can’t rely on traditional channels and partnerships only to get this message across. is not just about introducing new product colours and [ranges] for us, we need premium retail environments and experiences to tell these stories in an engaging way.”
The brand is also revamping its ecommerce offering as part of its retail drive with the introduction of a social element that Carroll says will “ignite conversation among athletes” searching for its products online. It plans to grow its direct-to-consumer base as a percentage of its European revenues from 20 per cent to 30 per cent by the end of the year.
The strategy is part of the brand’s seasonal Spring/Summer marketing campaign and marks the latest phase of its bid to disrupt the dominance Nike and Adidas have over the sportswear market. The campaign will promote Under Armour’s Combine Training men’s apparel alongside its StudioLux Noir women’s range.
Under Armour launched a major push to target women through its marketing in the US last year and the business says it will “cascade” the approach across all its European markets over the next 12 months.
Unlike Nike, Under Armour is a domestic brand. While widely distributed abroad, sales outside North America currently account for about 6 per cent of total sales. Last year, the business reported a 24 per cent rise in global revenues for the three months to 31 October, its twelfth consecutive quarter of revenue growth in excess of 20 per cent.
Carroll adds: “We feel that it’s time to tell our story in Europe, because we’ve built awareness and authenticity as a sports brand on the field. What we need to do now is talk more directly to global consumers and we feel that having a strong brand experience at retail level is the quickest and most effective way to do that.”