When Under Armour first approached Huge, some may have considered it an underdog in the sports apparel industry. While UA serves nearly all sports, it was often stereotyped as a football apparel company, and despite its rich, loyal base and breadth of products, most people still didn't shop at UA for all their sports apparel needs. In order to compete with other performance brands, UA asked Huge to first restructure and build its digital marketing team, then develop and implement a digital strategy for the brand. This meant investigating and defining Under Armour’s customer segment, revolutionizing the ecommerce user experience, pushing creative boundaries, and positioning UA at the forefront of site experience and design.
A new audience segmentation.
We began our research by studying the existing site and its users. One of the first things we realized was that the site did not appeal to women. The brand’s previous marketing strategy for women’s apparel had been to “shrink and pink it,” but this approach hadn’t been working brand- or sales-wise. Under Armour had consequently revised its product strategy, but not its digital strategy, so the website continued to fail with female online shoppers.
Furthermore, we discovered that the real Under Armour customers—those actually buying the products—were quite different from the customer UA imagined. Most of the women shoppers were not athletes themselves, but moms buying for their teens. On the whole, male customers were more often former athletes than current ones, and generally older and less active. Nonetheless, Under Armour remained an inspirational brand across all customer segments.
Based on these insights, Under Armour asked Huge help the UA marketing team better understand and address the brand’s true customers. We decided to create persona walls and a segmentation room on-site at UA’s offices to physically and digitally illustrate our findings. In the room, each of the five personas is accompanied by an iPad that showcases videos compiled from usability testing. This immersive and interactive digital experience inspires internal teams and vendors and reminds them of the nuanced audience they serve.
Making shopping as easy online as in-store.
We also found that shopping on the existing site wasn’t easy, and customers generally preferred to purchase in-store. This was largely due confusing product names, imagery and benefits in the ecommerce experience. Online, the product value wasn’t clear, and Under Armour was unsure how and where to seamlessly fold the brand story into the shopping experience.
The goals for the new UnderArmour.com ecommerce site were to drive revenue, increase brand loyalty, and raise the bar in the online market for performance wear. To achieve these goals, our strategy was to make the product the star in a revolutionary way without alienating key audiences. Huge completed content strategy, interaction and visual design, and front-end development for the site: We brought performance gear to life through new features such as product detail videos and customer ratings for collections and products. We improved navigation and enhanced search filters and product finders. Huge also made sure to maintain context for the shopping experience by keeping the product within the shoppers’ selection path and offering selection support for size, fit, sport, etc. Despite the site’s focus on the products, we incorporated key athlete testimonials and conceptually wove the UA brand ethos—Hungry and Humble—throughout.
The redesigned UnderArmour.com launched in 2011, fully expressing the boldness and innovation of the UA brand and allowing its products and athletes to shine. With a streamlined, inspirational design and innovative, proprietary features—such as a dynamic temperature tool to help users shop for hot or cold weather gear and a Fit Guide to ensure customers would feel confident in their online purchase—the site redefined the sports apparel shopping experience. After the initial launch, Huge incorporated additional personalization elements to create a customizable shopping experience that would drive customer satisfaction and repeat site visits.
Building a community.
Beyond UnderArmour.com, our digital strategy sought to tie content and community together to encourage shopping in any channel, including in-store and mobile, and keep the conversation going between purchases. As such, the site allows users to share their product searches and ratings and reviews via Facebook and other social channels. Our persona segmentation has also been pivotal in Under Armour’s approach to managing its Facebook brand page, which now has 1.5 million fans. Finally, the site design translated easily to a mobile version optimized for iPad, now a common online shopping platform.
As a result of Under Armour’s significant investment in a reinvigorated digital strategy, a complete site redesign and social media, ecommerce sales increased 59% year-over-year in 2011, with tablet sales representing a growing proportion. Beginning with audience research and usability testing, Huge was able to devise and implement a strategy that has given UA an unshakable foothold in the sports apparel and fitness markets. Today, thanks in large part to this digital transformation, Under Armour is an underdog no more.