November 6, 2017
Under Armour Still Struggling to Hold Its Own
After a “come from nowhere” popularity surge, athletic wear brand Under Armour is struggling to maintain market share. Quarterly sales fell again, and they fell even worse than expected. Never a good look. This news caused the company to lower its sales projections once again, hoping, at least, to meet rather than fall short of expectations.
Under Armour CEO Blames United States for Company Issues
Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank is blaming falling demand in the United States for his company’s woes. Plank says sales in Europe, Asia, and Latin America continue to expand, but not so much in the US.
While that might sound like a silver lining on bad news, it’s not nearly as good as it sounds. The international markets are not nearly as well established for Under Armour as they are for rivals like Nike. And those rivals are stepping back in to grab market share Under Armour is giving up.
Not long ago, the athletic shoe was on the other foot. After nabbing some top endorsements from young stars across multiple professional sports, Under Armour was on a tear, gobbling up market share once owned by Nike and Adidas. While Nike was canceling its golf line, Under Armour had guys out there winning tournaments.
Under Armour had Golden State Warriors phenom Steph Curry wearing their shoes in the NBA playoffs year after year, and, suddenly, kids were buying their shoes in droves. Not so much anymore.
Under Armour is “Relentlessly Mocked”
Even though Curry has won several NBA MVP awards and two championships, his shoes are not exactly sought after these days. Fans on social media relentlessly mock the look. Despite multiple iterations as well as lower prices than Nike’s Jordans, the criticism reduced demand. As Under Armour’s sales fell, Nike released retro Jordans, much to the delight of fans who loved the shoes’ strong nostalgia factor.
Insult to injury, there have been some headlines recently claiming Under Armour is having some “supply chain issues” getting the latest Curry line into stores. That’s the last thing the company needs. The brand simply cannot afford to alienate its most dedicated fans, those who are actually looking forward to buying the Curry 4.
Still, some are saying Under Armour’s woes have little to do with the actual shoes. They are blaming the sales slump on the CEO’s connection with President Trump’s manufacturing council. When Plank came out publicly in support of the President and his agenda, that rubbed many fans the wrong way.
At this point, it’s tough to say, definitively, whether it’s disaffected consumers or unpopular shoes, but, whatever it is, Under Armour needs to fix it fast. They’re running out of time.
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.