April 18th, 2016

Penned by Chief Strategy Officer Dave Corelli.
Follow Dave on Twitter and on Medium.

In tech vs. culture, two letters are out to chase down the swoosh.

Under Armour has made it clear - they are out to hunt Nike down as the world’s largest sportswear maker.

In North America, UA has now surpassed adidas as the #2 sportswear company (they remain #3 worldwide). But there is plenty of ground to make up. At $4 billion in revenue, UA requires nearly 10x growth to chase down the $30 billion Nike.

To get there, UA is betting big on the digital fitness community and its data. In the past three years, the company has spent $750 million acquiring three key digital fitness companies - MapMyFitness (run and other exercise tracking), MyFitnessPal (nutrition tracking), and Endomondo (work out plans and tracking).

The evolution has been the UA HealthBox trio of wearables (a band, heart rate monitor, and scale) and the UA Record app, a digital home for tracking all of your fitness, rest and nutritional activity, whether via UA wearables or other third party apps.

The theory behind it is strong. Know more about your consumer - when they use product, how they use it, what they eat, where they are, how they sleep - and use that insight to tailor your products and services. Not just the design. But how and when you offer them up to the consumer.

For me, I like this bet on the performance side. I’m a big advocate for guiding decisions from data. The price tag of acquisitions aside, the foundation of this strategy is solid, and if used correctly will likely propel UA to continue to chip away at the share of the sportswear market.

And while I admire the heck out of the strategy, I feel there is one core piece still missing in order to allow UA to fully close the gap.

UA is about performance. Their mission - make all athletes better. Every ounce of investment in the company is on the technical and performance side. 

But sportswear has always transcended sport. It shapes lifestyle culture.  In 2011, Reuters pegged streetwear as a $60 billion industry globally.

In 2016, rocking your sneaks and sweats couldn’t be any more of the moment. GQ has coined it “SportsCore - the stuff you wear to the gym, the office, and brunch is all mid seamlessly together."

Athletes are now style icons. NBA stars are sitting front row at fashion shows.

UA is betting on the athlete's consideration of performance when they pick out their gear. But the other side of that is perception  - what is my style, my brand, and what does it say about me to wear this logo on my chest? 

The influence of street culture undoubtedly has an effect on that decision. And while I'm not saying it doesn't make sense for UA to be a focused performance company, I do see it being tough for them to catch Nike overall without the lifestyle side of the equation.

This Saturday, I was motivated by the UA HealthBox and Record. I downloaded all the apps. Started logging my progress.

But on Sunday, I strolled the streets with a latte and my Nike's.

/ Corelli

Dave Corelli is Chief Strategy Officer of SportBox Group, a global entertainment agency with verticals in strategic marketing, personality representation, and event creation and ownership. Corelli oversees business and creative strategy globally for the agency, its clients, athletes and events. Follow Dave on Twitter and on Medium.