under armour marketing strategies

Under Armour Marketing Strategies: Rebuilding a Brand


Kevin Plank didn’t take much to get the idea to create one of the world’s biggest sporting apparel brands. He set off on a mission to develop moisture-wicking athletic apparel for amateur and professional athletes. He eventually saw his brand beat out Adidas for the 2nd biggest sportswear brand in the world in 2014.  

So, what marketing strategy does Under Armour use?

It’s no secret that Under Armour’smarketing strategies are one of the best in the game, with footwear sales at just over $5 billion dollars and having tripled its marketing investments in just ten years. But the company has now dropped to 4th position behind Puma, Adidas, and the forever kings of sportswear, Nike.

Let’s blow the whistle and start this game of analysis on Under Armour’s marketing strategies that propelled itself to where it once was and how it plans to regain its number 2 spot or even challenge its biggest rivals to the top in late 2021 and 2022.  

Marketing Strategy: Solving an Audience Gap

Under Armour has used sponsorships and endorsements like its biggest competitors with many athletes, celebrities, and sporting organizations. 

Some of its most notable endorsements include wrestler turned actor Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, swimmer Michael Phelps, basketball player Stephen Curry, and the USA boxing team. 

under armour marketing strategies endorsments

Dwayne Johnson, Steph Curry, and Michael Phelps for Under Armour

In 2014, Under Armour struggled to find the reason behind its initial downfall compared to its competitors. 

Under Armour Brand: Less Macho, More Women.

When looking at the prominent faces of their brand, their business leaders realized they were portraying a macho, aggressive, and uninviting feel to women through their marketing, which contributed to their loss of a potential target market.  

In light of this revelation and its pursuit of change, Under Armour created its ‘I Will What I Want’ campaign to adjust its brand image and cater to the new target market, female athletes and women fitness enthusiasts.  

The Under Armour marketing strategy did not take the project lightly and teamed up with the New York advertising agency Droga5 to build this campaign. Many businesses are now turning to online advertising agencies to help them maximize their efforts and appeal more to their new target audience.

The brand decided to incorporate American ballet dancer Misty Copeland and Brazilian model Gisele Bündchen as brand ambassadors and released their newest marketing video ads.

As a result of this campaign, according to Starting Business, Under Armour saw:

  • 5 billion worldwide media impressions
  • 730% increase in the brand’s link with the word ’empowering’
  • 900% increase in the brand’s association with the word ‘stylish’
  • And their biggest goal of all – 

A 28% increase in sales of women apparel.  

The marketing strategy to expand their target market pool was a success, and Under Armour now has a female market comprising 31% of consumers.  

On top of their success in sales thanks to the ‘I Will What I Want’ campaign, Under Armour also saw an increase of 42% in website traffic that year, which has only gotten bigger in the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Online Shopping Made Easy: Harnessing the Power of Digital to Promote The Under Armour Apparel

In 2020, just like with many businesses worldwide, Under Armour saw the majority of its 15,000 retail stores have to shut down for many weeks and months, and the company saw itself having to rely solely on its online store.  

Before the pandemic, the brand planned to increase its marketing budget to 12% of its annual revenue. They wanted to focus on top-of-funnel activity, drop sports marketing contracts, and focus on the company branding.  

With no way of physically interacting with its clientele, the brand opted for an omnichannel approach to create one of the world’s largest online sporting communities.  

The goal was not to get people to buy products but instead for them to see the brand as a place of experience and a way to connect with others much beyond their sporting products.  

The way they did this was to create as many digital customer experiences as possible with their brand at the center of it. This creates a direct to consumer sales experience that is more appealing to digitally savvy customers.

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The Largest Online Fitness Community in the World

Not only was the brand using all of its social media platforms as a place for interaction, but Under Armour has now invested $710 million as part of its marketing budget in three fitness apps. Armour launched in MyFitnessPal, MapMyRun, and Endomondo. This competitive advantage resulted in a successful community of more than 120 million athletes

This makes Under Armour the largest online fitness and wellness community in the world of sportswear industry.  

under armour fitness community online

With endless data on a large audience pool and leveraging digital channels, Under Armour’s distribution channels can create more online sales from specified products and services.  The brand consideration and efficient pricing strategy implemented led to their goal of becoming one of the leading sports apparel.

In what some could call the loneliest and most isolating year ever, 2020 called for unity and a sense of community in whichever way possible.  

In recent months and years, their strategy has proved to bring various sporting communities together. They kept this same rhythm throughout the pandemic via their mobile app endorsements. 

Recognizing Weaknesses – Looking Ahead

Although the brand had looked at increasing its marketing spending at the beginning of 2020, Under Armour spent $29 million less than the previous year, for a total of $550 million.  

In 2021, however, the Under Armour board has reconstructed its marketing strategy in an almost post-pandemic view to continue working on its initial plan to raise brand awareness. This proved to be one of the best Under Armour promotional strategies.

Armour’s Marketing Strategy: More Than Just a Clothing Brand

In recent years, its marketing strategies have failed to increase brand recognition along with its sales, which has now caused stagnation in the brand’s growth. They have not been able to prove to their audience what Patrick Frisk describes as “why they should consider Under Armour.”

In May of 2021, at the Q1 2021 Earnings Call between board members of Under Armour and the press, CEO Patrick Frisk mentioned that they are still “significantly under-penetrated from a brand awareness perspective” in various country markets such as China and Germany.  

To fix these issues, the company plans on letting go of long-term contracts such as endorsements and sponsorships and instead redirect the money to spend much more on upper-funnel marketing.  

Some of these ideas were already visible with their “The Only Way is Through” (that became the “Through This Together” campaign once the pandemic hit) in early 2020.  

Frisk said that the idea of this campaign was to deliver:

…a singular Under Armour voice with focused performers [and] in 2021, we are evolving these efforts to bring the ecosystem of how we engage and inspire athletes across both physical and digital experiences into even better alignment…

Additionally, this year, the company plans on accelerating marketing investments to drive awareness and increase conversions, which will, in turn, raise engagement and help the brand reach its final goal: drive consideration.

At the end of the day, Under Armour wants its marketing investments to be directed beyond its goods and more on the experience the brand offers to its audience, thus also redirecting the Under Armour branding strategy by broadening what its brand stands for.

The Final Whistle 

Although Under Armour has struggled in the past few years to make it amongst the top 3 most famous athletic apparel companies in the world, they are most definitely making a significant shift in their marketing strategy in 2021 to carve their name back at the top.

Suppose your business could also benefit from some changes in its marketing strategy, especially in rebranding. In that case, you may want to consider working with one of our experienced branding agencies in the United States or elsewhere to help you out.


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