Kevin Plank, then a young player for the University of Maryland football team discovered a “sweat-wicking fabric design for clothing for excessive exercise. Kevin saw excessive sweating when playing football. He called himself the “sweatiest guy on the pitch” which helps explain a lot. He didn’t just want to make something that looked good or was comfortable, but also because his core body temperature would rise to over 103 degrees Fahrenheit, posing a serious threat of heatstroke. It was found to be the perfect choice for athletes who wanted clothing that could act as a second skin layer that could breathe. Although Kevin Plank’s brilliant idea is the key to Under Armour’s success, there were other factors that helped propel Under Armour to where it is today. Kevin traveled to New York’s Garment District several times during his senior years of college to meet up with pattern-makers and fabric distributors. This was to test different types of material originally created for lingerie. Plank came up a design that contained spandex fiber and silicone. This solution performed just as Plank wanted. After he had created a product that worked, he wanted to make it available to athletes all over the world. Kevin graduated in 1996 from the University of Maryland with an MBA in Business. Shortly thereafter, he started to make a prototype of HeatGear, his improved product that was targeted at football players in order to improve their athletic performance.

Kevin Plank knew that marketing his product would be best if he used his vast network, which included players, coaches and executives from collegiate levels, as well as team equipment managers. He started driving from locker area to lockerroom carrying HeatGear, and accumulated over $40,000 in credit cards debt. Which is the best place for sportswear to be sold? He sent several packages of HeatGear shirts, including customized HeatGear shirts, to hundreds of NFL teams. Plank set aside traditional marketing techniques and put a focus on getting his product to athletes so they could test them. His team’s equipment managers were the key to his success. He discovered that equipment managers of different teams communicated often amongst one another and were often fully authorized by the team to act in the team’s best interest and purchase large quantities of needed/wanted gear. In 1997, Georgia Tech was the first major customer. Georgia Tech’s competitors soon followed suit and placed large orders for their teams. After talking directly with Georgia tech’s equipment manager and staff, professional football teams such as Atlanta Falcons made orders. The New York Giants soon followed suit and placed an order for the Atlanta Falcons. Plank stated that Under Armour was “one athletic to another, taking one step at each time.” While Under Armour’s popularity and size increased, it still couldn’t match the main competitors such Reebok, Adidas and Nike. It was time to identify Under Armour’s competitive advantages and drawbacks to help the company grow. With large orders placed by several sports teams and organizations for the sweat-wicking sweatshirts, the product speaks for itself. Under Armour wasn’t seen by competitors as a competition in the early 2000s. Responding was slow. Under Armour sold primarily base-layer clothing to its customers. This was because it had a small market. This was not the case for Adidas and Nike, who used dollar signs to assess Under Armour’s competability. Under Armour was the first company to market the “official undershirt”. Kevin wanted to make equity in the markets he knew, so rather then running after lucrative markets like basketball, Under Armour remained focused on “owning” that player from head-to-toe.

As other companies, Under Armour was not without its faults. One example of this was Under Armour’s dependence on North America as a major competitive disadvantage. The company’s initial 20-plus year tenure was very successful. However, this strategy of focusing exclusively on domestic markets has been a problem as the North American apparel marketplace has suffered. It is important to minimize risk and maximize your chances of long-term success. Foreign markets offer huge sales potential, but they also provide a great resource for manufacturing needs of rival companies. Third-party manufacturing is a cheap way for companies to get cheap labor and materials. These companies can then price their products less than Under Armour, and not lose money. It’s 2020, and science and technology have advanced more rapidly than ever before. Under Armour is a multifaceted company that has expanded into almost all aspects in athletic and fashionable clothing. What are the next steps for Under Armour to stand out from its competitors? Under Armour’s HOVR Smart shoe product has been released over the years. These shoes can connect via Bluetooth with an athlete’s smartphone. The app “MAPMYRUN”, which tracks data and provides tips to runners, allows them to track their analytics. As technology becomes more integrated in every aspect of our lives, Under Armour has the opportunity to create new clothing lines as technology and sportswear merge. For many professional and collegiate organizations, mental health has not been a top priority. As long as fans are satisfied with the product and enjoy the show, it is. Under Armour presents an opportunity for athletes intelligence. The company is currently focusing on headwear in impact sports. This new technology will be welcomed by international sports organizations looking to provide care for their athletes. There are many options, such as realtime data monitoring that could be used to assess a player’s performance (often after a major hit). The company’s market capital is more than 3.4 billion. This means that they have the resources necessary to invent in this area. Since its foundation in 1996 by Kevin Plank and continues to be a leader in innovation, Under Armour never stopped being innovative. Under Armour needs to be the innovator in this new realm of technology and performance for athletes.


  • landonwong

    Landon Wong is a 34-year-old educational bloger and teacher. He has been teaching in the US for 12 years and has worked as a tutor, librarian, and high school teacher. In his spare time, he enjoys writing and teaching.