Under Armour: Where do we go from here?

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Case Study: 'Under Armour's Willful Digital Moves'

After reviewing the article “Under Armour’s Willful Digital Moves,” found in Harvard Business Publishing, I understand that Under Armour made great strides in its marketing campaigns and overall brand awareness. Specifically, by expanding their target audience to include women, they opened new avenues for new products and increased their brand offerings.

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The ‘I Will What I Want’ marketing campaign launched in July 2014 directly responded to the failed Adidas ‘Unite All Originals’ marketing campaign of March 2013; both targeted women specifically (Saghian & Murray, 2016). This campaign uses three marketing segments: demographics, behavioral, and psychographics. For demographics, they targeted women, specifically female athletes, which then incorporated behavioral segmentation.

In an interview after the success of the campaign, Senior VP and creative director of women’s business Leanne Fremar said the overall goal of the ‘I Will What I Want’ campaign was to “celebrate women who had the physical and mental strength to tune out the external pressures and turn inward and chart their own course”, this statement reinforces the psychographic target used (Saghian & Murray, 2016). While there are three independent segments that can be identified for this campaign, the most impactful came as a direct result of the psychographic target. This is reflected in the ad content used and how viral the media went online. The nature of the ads consisted of highlighting women athletes who didn’t fit into the stereotypical constructs around their given sport. By highlighting the uniqueness of a woman’s performance, Under Armour was able to convince the audience that their products supported them emotionally, which helped drive sales (Gajanova et al., 2019).

Marketing Segmentation Implementation Breakdown

When working on implementing segmentation strategies, it is important to remember these five points:

  1. Narrow the campaign’s focus on creating content that will support your business goals (Hart & Baker, 2007). Ask yourself these questions: What do you want to achieve by segmenting your market? Do you want to increase sales, improve customer retention, or reach a new target audience? Once you know your goals, you can start to develop segmentation strategies that will help you achieve them.
  2. Analyze your data, and consider the sources and timeframe of the information (Piercy & Morgan, 1993). Ask yourself these questions: What data do you have about your customers? This could include demographic data, such as age, gender, and location; psychographic data, such as interests and values; or behavioral data, such as purchase history and website activity. The more data you have, the more accurate your segmentation will be.
  3. Select segmentation variables that make sense for your objective. Because there are many ways to segment your market such as segmenting by demographics, geography, psychographics, behavior, or a combination of these factors; you need to be conscious of the impact of your selection on the overall outcome of the campaign (Dibb, 1999). Simply stated, the best segmentation variables for your business will depend on your goals and the data you have available.
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4. Curate meaningful segments. Your segments should be meaningful to your business and align with your campaign goals (Dibb, 1998). They should be based on factors that will affect customer behavior in a positive manner. Under Armour created segments that specifically targeted women who are athletic that possess the emotional and physical fortitude to push through to their goals – no matter what others said. Your segments need to align with your specific business, don’t focus on the competition.

5. Don’t be afraid to adjust, you are free to test and refine your segmentation (Dibb, 1999). Once you’ve created your segments, you need to test them to see if they’re effective. You can do this by tracking your results and adjusting as needed.

Discovering New Segmentation Types: Firmographic

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One new segment type that I’ve recently noticed is Firmographic segmentation. Firmographic segmentation, which categorizes business-to-business customers according to shared company or organizational characteristics, can help direct marketing, advertising, and sales by supplying deeper business insights, which in turn results in more targeted and successful campaign strategies (Weinstein, 2014). Because Under Armour offers a variety of products geared toward athletes, this type of segmentation might benefit them. Specifically, they could target gyms, clubs, or other sport-centric organizations to create partnerships for product placement and sales. For example, Under Armour could reach out to a popular tennis club and offer to sell its products at a reduced rate if the club agreed to window placement to drive customers into the shops. By selling directly to the tennis club, Under Armour is guaranteed a sale, they also gain prominent product placement which will encourage consumers to purchase their brand outside of the tennis club (Weinstein, 2011). This business-to-business selling technique is often used with SAAS, software as a service, and has been proven to have mutual benefits to both parties (Weinstein, 2011).

Closing Thoughts on Marketing Segmentation

No matter what type of segmentation your business opts to use, it is important to remember that your needs are not identical to the needs of similar businesses. Focus on your goals, don’t be blind to what the competition is doing but don’t feel pressured to follow them. Do things your way to ensure you remain true to your brand and your offerings. Successful companies do things that have been done before but in their own way. Remember that remaining loyal to your brand will increase the chances of running a successful marketing campaign.

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Dibb, S. (1999). Criteria guiding segmentation implementation: reviewing the evidence. Journal of Strategic Marketing, 7(2), 107–129. https://doi.org/10.1080/096525499346477

Dibb, S. (1998). Market segmentation: strategies for success. Marketing Intelligence & Planning, 16(7), 394–406. https://doi.org/10.1108/02634509810244390

Gajanova, L., Nadanyiova, M., & Moravcikova, D. (2019). The Use of Demographic and Psychographic Segmentation to Creating Marketing Strategy of Brand Loyalty. Scientific Annals of Economics and Business, 66(1), 65–84. https://doi.org/10.2478/saeb-2019-0005

Hart, S. R., & Baker, M. D. (2007). The marketing book 6th edition. In Butterworth-Heinemann eBooks. https://pureportal.strath.ac.uk/en/publications/the-marketing-book-6th-edition

Piercy, N. F., & Morgan, N. V. (1993). Strategic and operational market segmentation: a managerial analysis. Journal of Strategic Marketing, 1(2), 123–140. https://doi.org/10.1080/09652549300000008

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

Weinstein, A. (2014). Segmenting B2B technology markets via psychographics: an exploratory study. Journal of Strategic Marketing, 22(3), 257–267. https://doi.org/10.1080/0965254x.2013.876072

Weinstein, A. (2011). Segmenting technology markets: applying the nested approach. Marketing Intelligence & Planning. https://doi.org/10.1108/02634501111178695


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  • Post last modified:July 9, 2023
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