NEW YORK – Under Armor is stepping up its efforts to appeal to the female athlete.
In a return to in-person events, the Baltimore-based sports brand held a two-day event in New York’s Meatpacking District for a group of media, influencers and athletes — all women — as she was trying to shed light. on product and marketing initiatives specifically aimed at women.
The event centered around the launch next week of the UA Flow Synchronicity, a new running shoe designed by women specifically for women.
Lisa Collier, product manager for Under Armour, explained that traditional women’s running shoes are created from a male last, just smaller to fit the female foot. This means that they often lack the flexibility, fit and arch support that women need.
Enter the Flow Synchronicity.
“We try to understand the unique needs of our female athletes,” Collier said, “and how we can serve and enhance them, which is Under Armour’s mission. We can’t just shrink it and pink it. There was a time in our history when we did that.
But now the company is doubling down on its efforts by researching female-specific anatomy, fluctuations in female cycles, and issues that impact their performance.
For the Flow Synchronicity, the team incorporated data and consumer insights from women who ran in a series of prototypes and focused on three key areas: heel, arch and midfoot height. . They studied 3D scans to better understand the anatomy of the female foot as well as the biomechanics, shape and proportions of the foot.
The Flow Synchronicity secures the heel and supports the arch better than shoes built from a men’s model, according to the company. It also features a knit upper, no rubber outsole or heavy adhesives, features that also speak to the brand’s efforts to become more durable and serve to make the shoe lighter. Collier said the materials used in the shoe can eventually be ground up and recycled for use in other products in the future.
The Flow Synchronicity launches worldwide on June 9 and will retail for $140 at Under Armor stores, online, and select sporting goods and running stores.
This women-specific running shoe will also serve as a model for others, Collier said, especially cleats for soccer and other sports. She noted that the recently introduced Flow Breakthru2 basketball shoe, designed specifically for women, was completely sold out at Dick’s Sporting Goods.
While not all products need to be women-specific, Collier said, others need to be modified to better suit women and their specific needs. She gave an example of female softball players who actually said they preferred using a men’s baseball glove because it had a bigger pocket. “Women don’t always want something different, but sometimes they do,” she said.
With all of the women-specific products — apparel and footwear — style is also key, Collier said. “She wants to be beautiful and fit and proud,” she said. “So it’s very important that performance and style come together.”
From a clothing perspective, “we have to win in bras and leggings,” she said. About two years ago, the company introduced its Infinity bra which is padless and takes into account the movement of the breasts rather than just providing a “lock” of all movement, she said.
Under Armor also promotes women’s layering pieces such as lightweight jackets and fleeces as “outfit complements,” she said. And recovery is also a priority, she said. “Recover is an important part of the opportunity to grow and develop in the women’s space,” she said.
Both Under Armor Recover and Rush products are created with mineral infused fabrics that are meant to return energy to the muscles so they feel less fatigued and recover faster.
Looking ahead, Collier said there are other “unique things coming to the space” that will address specific product needs specifically geared towards the competition.
Over the past two years, Under Armor has also marketed more directly to women, Collier said, and has relied on its roster of athletes — 40% of whom are women — to tell their stories. This includes their lessons learned during the competition as well as their recovery efforts. “No athlete performs 24 hours a day,” she said, “so we want to show the full extent of their lives, even when they’re not training.”
This isn’t the first time that Under Armor has sought to attract more women. As early as 2014, the company said it believed women’s clothing could eventually be as big or even bigger than men’s. Currently, women make up 25% of overall sales, which reached $5.7 billion last year.
But Under Armor is certainly not alone in wanting to please women. All major sports brands including Nike, Adidas, Puma and others are focusing more on women specific products. Lululemon, which is particularly popular among female sportswear shoppers, also recently launched a running shoe specifically designed for women with more models available this year. Nike remains the largest women’s sports brand with footwear and apparel sales of $8.5 billion in fiscal year 2021.
Collier acknowledged, “We constantly watch the competition and respect what they’re doing in the space.” But she thinks Under Armor can keep moving forward by continuing to focus more on women-specific products.
This week’s event in New York, which was called UA Pursuit, also included panels on understanding the female body and how to consider the menstrual cycle when training and competing, a session on mental training for female athletes and training sessions with Olympic athletes. including Natasha Hastings.
Under Armor has had its fair share of challenges over the past few years. In mid-May it revealed that its chief executive, Patrik Frisk, who had only held the post for two years, was stepping down and a search for his successor was underway. Frisk joined the company in 2017 as president and chief operating officer as the company faltered in both sales and scandals ranging from strip club visits to Securities and Exchange Commission investigations.
The Swedish-born executive, who had been CEO of the Aldo Group and also had work experience in outdoor and active sports with a resume that included high-profile jobs at The North Face, Timberland and Vans , instituted a five-year, $200 million deal. turnaround plan to bring Under Armor back to its roots as an athletic brand. He eliminated 2,500 wholesale accounts in North America, parted ways with many longtime company executives, and doubled his purchases of activewear, accessories and footwear rather than casual wear. lifestyle.
Results have started to improve, with the company reporting better-than-expected net profit in the fourth quarter and full year 2021. But in a transitional quarter that the company announced in early May, results were lower to estimates with net losses for the period ended March 31 of $59.6 million, or 13 cents per diluted share, compared to profit of $77.8 million, or 17 cents, a year earlier.