Cover Story: Growing Up With Under Armour
Today's teens have been inundated from their earliest recollections with advertising, be it on TV, online, in their favorite video games and movies, and the list goes on. To effectively sell to this generation of consumers, Under Armour studies what makes it tick. What are teens thinking about? How do they behave? What motivates them to purchase?
The answers to these questions are the basis for the Baltimore-based sports apparel manufacturer/marketer's mission: to make all athletes better through passion, science and the relentless pursuit of innovation. The company relies on a heavy dose of customer feedback for guidance, particularly from its core demographic — teen athletes.
Chasing Elusive Youths
As many marketers have found, teens can be elusive, shifting from one media channel to the next in a heartbeat. The one constant, however, is that teens are almost always online. With an integrated marketing strategy built on creating emotional connections with young athletes, Under Armour positions itself as the brand they can trust. This trust fosters customer loyalty and lifetime relationships with the brand that are easily passed to the next generation of teen athletes.
"We build product and [cultivate] our brand with an inspirational message to get younger athletes to grow up with the brand," says Mark Kuhns, Under Armour's vice president of global direct. "It's not about pushing a sales message at them or following them all over the place to tell them about Under Armour; it's about being in places where they naturally go. They have a chance to interact with our brand." (Kuhns provided details for this article in an exclusive interview with All About ROI in September, as well as during a recent presentation he gave at the Internet Retailer conference in June.)
For a company that develops, markets and distributes branded performance apparel, footwear and accessories, those places are plentiful. Regardless of the selling channel, consumers consistently respond. Under Armour routinely posts profitable quarters, including this year's second fiscal quarter when net revenues and income increased 5.1 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively. Based on current projections, Under Armour anticipates net revenues of approximately $810 million for fiscal 2009.