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Under Armour builds connected community for the future

Under Armour is investing in a concept called ‘connected fitness’ to sell more shirts and shoes.

Founder and CEO of American sportswear brand, Under Armour, Kevin Plank, has taken a digital strategy which consisted of a single website three years ago, and turned it into a bold vision for the future.

Under Armour, which went public in 2005 and surpassed $US1 billion in sales in 2010, has its sights set firmly on the future, and expects to reach $7.5 billion in revenue by 2018.

Also in the business’ future is dominating what Plank describes as ‘connected fitness’, an idea which stems from the question, ‘why do we know more about our cars than our own body?’ Or rather, ‘why don’t we have the data which explains why we are feeling the way we are?’.

“If Facebook owns social and if LinkedIn owns business, who truly is the app you turn to and you say how is my physical health?” Plank asked during the NRF Big Show in New York last month. “When we think about our competition, we aren’t worried about the next shoe-upper that someone is going to build. We are worried about the competition that doesn’t even exist yet.”

This focus lead to a series of acquisitions, beginning in December 2013 with app, MapMyFitness. In February 2015, Under Armour acquired fitness app, Endomondo, and MyFitnessPal, a nutrition site.

“We believed that the future was not in hardware, the future was truly going to be in community,” Plank said.

The acquisitions delivered Under Armour a team engineers, digital leadership and 160 million registered users across the different apps.

Under Armour is now working to bring that community together under one health app. A digital dashboard is being developed to measure health across six categories – sleep, fitness, activity, nutrition, weight and ‘how do you feel today?’ – a general rating between one and 10.

So, why is Plank investing in connected fitness?

“The purpose of all we are doing with our digital business is for that singular reason, for helping us sell,” Plank said. “It empowers us to sell more shirts and shoes.

“If we know how people feel when they work out, we can now better understand their needs. We can predict things like a walking trend in Australia. Yes, there is a walking trend happening in Australia right now and we are seeing that on our heat map. We can then project our merchandising, our product in the right time at the right place.

“The more we do know about our consumer, the more we can engage them. And, for a company like Under Armour, the more shirts and shoes we are going to sell.”

This story first appeared in the February issue of Inside Retail magazine, click here to subscribe. Exclusive coverage from Octomedia – publisher of Internet Retailing and Inside Retail – from the NRF Big Show is sponsored by Zendesk

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