If you think of Under Armour as just a sports apparel company, think again. Starting in 2013, Under Armour acquired MapMyFitness, followed by the addition of EndoMondo and MyFitnessPal and the launch of UA Record, making Under Armour Connected Fitness the largest digital fitness community in the world.
“When we started it was very much about the product. It was about the shirts and shoes. Now it’s much more about the digital product,” said Kurt Kendall, VP Analytics and Data Solutions at Under Armour, during his presentation at Retail’s BIG Show, NRF’s annual convention and expo.
Under Armour’s mission is to make all athletes better and change the way they live. And don’t harp on the term “athlete.” You don’t have to be an Olympian to be included. Anyone interested in improving their health and fitness is welcome to join its connected fitness community.
If you join, you won’t be alone. To date, Under Armour has approximately 200 million registered users worldwide and that number continues to grow rapidly. This is not an insignificant development for the company. It has gained direct relationships with hundreds of millions of people on all seven continents and amassed a lot of insightful data.
“In some parts of the world, this community is how consumers were first exposed to the brand. So it is very important for us that this community represents the idea of making athletes lives better. But it also gives us the opportunity to transform how a traditional footwear and apparel retailer will interact with its consumers,” explained Kendall.
After Under Armour put its connected fitness platform in place, it began to incorporate fitness and apparel products into the digital experience. Its new Gemini line of running shoes and HealthBox fitness system seamlessly connect the physical and digital world. They automatically track your health and fitness activity as you exercise and sync with UA’s apps, including MapMyRun and UA Record, so you can leave your phone at home.
“When you go out for a run you probably aren’t going to forget your shoes. You might forget your phone, but not your shoes,” joked Kendall.
But the transfer of the digital experience from the phone to the wearable is no joke. It’s a huge opportunity for innovation. For Under Armour, the shoe or shirt becomes the digital platform used to enhance the athlete’s experience.
“The reality is that the physical product and the digital product are not distinguishable. This digital integration of the product is not going to slow down, we think it is going to accelerate and we want to be on the forefront of that,” said Kendall.
All these connected apps, wearables, and retail transactions create a lot of data. Incredibly valuable data. “To put it in perspective, our estimation across all our digital platforms globally, we are talking over 10 billion interactions a year and each one of those gives us the ability to improve the customer experience,” explained Kendall.
To make sure everything ties together, the company launched a ‘single view of the customer’ initiative. “It’s one of our key strategic initiatives and is enabling a completely different way for us to operate,” said Kendall.
As part of the initiative, Under Armour is implementing the SAP Fashion Management solution. This will ensure every retail transaction in the world flows together and links with the connected fitness data. Customer workout activities, nutrition logs, sleep patterns, geospatial data, and more will be tied to retail activities. That deep level of insight will enable Under Armour to offer highly personalized and contextual consumer experiences and better align product innovations to how consumers actually use them.
“We have 3 billion workouts in the system. So you can literally pull out an iPad and see how many rugby players are in the USA. What type of individual is playing rugby, what’s the gender mix, what states they are playing in, and equally important, we can communicate with those individuals. So when we think about product lines for the rugby consumer, we already have a good understanding of who those people are and can reach out to them directly,” explained Kendall.
Under Armour’s transformation into the world’s largest digital connected fitness company is creating kinetic energy throughout the organization. It’s stimulating innovation in product lines, energizing new business models, and improving the athlete in all of us.