Under Armour was started in 1996 by Kevin Plank, a former college football player with the University of Maryland. While playing football, he disliked wearing the cotton t-shirts that the players wore under their jerseys. During practice, they would become soaked with sweat and were very uncomfortable. At the same time, moisture wicking fabric was a newly innovative technology comprised of synthetic polyester fibers with a water-resistant coating. It was developed to wick away moisture from the body and speed up the evaporation process. This helps to regulate the body’s temperature when body temperature rises and keeps the shirt dry and lighter than regular cotton shirts. Plank decided to use this technology to create tighter fitting shirts that would keep the athletes cooler and drier. Under Armour’s competitive advantage comes from their innovation and technology. They are considered pioneers in performance apparel and have built a very strong brand in a relatively short amount of time.
Their apparel is designed to keep athletes cool, dry and light during a game, practice, or workout. Despite this technology being copied by many major sportswear brands including Nike, Under Armour has a sustainable competitive advantage due to their continually evolving product lines. Besides shirts, they also make shorts, underwear, outerwear and gloves. They now have Heat Gear to wear when it’s hot, ColdGear to wear when it’ cold, and All Season Gear to wear when it’s not extremely hot or cold. Under Armour has a competitive advantage be because its brand is recognized for their wide product selection, high quality, attractive styling, and cutting-edge innovation.
Because they are recognized for their high quality, they have the advantage of being successful with higher suggested retail prices than their competition. In order to keep their competitive advantage, they need to stay the course by constantly evolving and expanding their product line. Although Under Armour has had tremendous success in its early years of operation they face a couple of key problems in their near future. They have a very strong strategy to expand their offerings in variety of merchandise to include a variety of sports. This strategy is ideal because they will be able to appeal to a much wider target market. The challenge though will be to penetrate the new markets for sports like golf, baseball, basketball and others that they have not been in. Their main market when they were introduced into the world was football.