Walk into any gym in the world and you’ll easily spot the familiar Under Armour logo. For 25 years, Under Armour has focused on delivering “technical apparel positioned as innovative and modern” (Saghian & Murray, 2016) to athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike. Marketed to both male and female consumers, the company has grown to become the 4th largest athletic apparel brand in the world (Shahbandeh, 2021).

In 2014, the company released its “I Will What I Want” campaign featuring American ballerina Misty Copeland. The ad focused on how Copeland overcame rejection earlier in her career to become the American Ballet Theatre’s first African American principal dancer. After the ad went viral, Under Armour added supermodel Gisele Bündchen to the campaign, featuring her boxing while negative comments about her were displayed on the wall behind her. The focus on women overcoming adversity was a hit, propelling Under Armour into the spotlight.

Today, the brand has teamed up with celebrities to create exclusive collections, including actor and retired professional wrestler, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. These collections have kept the brand from completely shedding its tough-guy image however, they do bridge the gender gap by include products tailored to women such as leggings and sports bras.

So what can Under Armour’s success teach us about segmentation strategies?

Find the right market

You wouldn’t open a donut shop in a gym. Finding the right market means finding the right people who want/need your products and will buy them. This target market should consist of the people who are mostly to not just buy your products but keep buying them…and talking about them. This means either finding a hole in an existing market category or creating what seems like a category.

Know who you’re talking to

Once you find your target market, you have to understand who you’re talking to. Under Armour knew it wasn’t just talking to women, it was talking to women athletes who have long been overlooked and underestimated. This is where you look at what your ideal customer is like and create an ideal customer avatar (ICA)—essentially write down what your ideal customer would be like, in as much detail as possible. Get granular! How old is he? Where does she shop? What’s their favorite brand of ice cream? Understanding what fires up your ICA and what makes them tick will help you create a marketing campaign that really relates to them.

Understand needs and preferences

Now that you know where you’re selling and who you’re selling to, you should have a clear picture of what they need. Figuring out your target market’s preferences can be a bit challenging at first, but once you know get it, you’re golden! Is your ICA a savvy couponing genius or willing to pay a bit more for higher quality? Are they loyalists that will buy everything you sell (everyone’s favorite and most sought-after clients!) or roamers who love one of your products, but probably go elsewhere for others? Jeans or jeggings? T-shirt, button-down, or polo shirts? Again, get as granular as you can.

Choose the right voice

You know who you’re talking to, what they like and need, and where to find them—now you have to talk to them. Using the right voice is an essential part of your messaging. Celebrity endorsements, while they can be profitable, tie the brand to the celebrity’s image, which can change in a heartbeat. The voice of your brand (i.e. how your brand comes off to others) should be identifiable in all your campaigns. Under Armour used women that are scrappy and motivated to convey a message of achievement and power. Ensuring your voice is authentic and relates to your brand’s mission as well as your customers’ needs is the best way to reach your target market.

A market I’ve become more aware of that you may consider exploring is Muslim women. This market has been long underserved and with the current situation in Afghanistan, I find myself thinking more and more about how to help these women. Creating a strategy that appeals to their modesty and devotion to the family would be a good start. Additionally, understanding the importance of education and the intricacies of their core beliefs would help create an authentic brand voice that could connect with this target market.

Conclusion

No matter what you sell, understanding who you’re selling to is essential. By focusing in smaller market segments, you ensure that the right people are hearing your message. This may sound counter-intuitive, but having a clear market and a clear message to the market is the best way to sell, whether its donuts or diamonds. Knowing you’re talking to, what their preferences are and what the need will never let you down!

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References

Saghian, M., & Murray, M. (2016). Under armour’s willful digital moves. Darden Business Publishing Cases, 1–5. https://doi.org/10.1108/case.darden.2021.000025

Shahbandeh, M. (2021, September 10). Sportswear: Largest companies by revenue 2019. Statista. Retrieved September 12, 2021, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/900271/leading-sportswear-and-performance-wear-companies-by-sales-worldwide/.

Posted by:Amy Clark

Hey, sunshine! I’m a proud entrepreneurial mama with three kids and a hunky husband. I worship chocolate like a deity, drink homemade lattes like my life depends on it and think jeggings are one of the greatest inventions of the 21st Century. A photographer, educator + military spouse, my happiest days are spent helping creative-based small business owners reach their business goals. Have questions about photography, business or life with 3 littles?- feel free to email me! amy@amyclarkcreative.com

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