For years the sports clothing industry has been dominated by recognizable giants such as Nike and Adidas. However, in recent years, Kevin Plank’s Baltimore based brand Under Armour has started muscling in on the action. Under Armour are trying to gain a larger share of the market with moves such as attempting to outbid Nike for NBA player Kevin Durant’s sponsorship and taking over Adidas’ sponsorship of Notre Dame. In order to increase this market share, though, Under Armour needs to learn the strategies and tactics of veterans Nike and Adidas.
In Pursuitof the Leaders
SimilarWeb shows that despite Under Armour being far behind industry leader, Nike, Under Armour is proving to be more than capable of breaking new ground. The dynamics in the table below show some interesting growth patterns. Nike’s online growth decreased slightly between Q1 – Q3 2014, Adidas’ rose and fell erratically, but Under Armour managed to increase their growth each quarter. This data also helps supports the view generated by the Stern Agee report which suggests Adidas is now trailing Under Armour in the US market.
The number of desktop visits between our 3 brands shows that Nike is well in the lead, but Under Armour has been matching Adidas and is starting to surpass it. What’s really interesting is the amount of growth shown by Armour over the last 6 months. Their figure of more than 20% is very respectable compared to Nike’s modest increase of slightly less than 11%. Adidas, meanwhile, have seen a decline in growth of around 18%.
Under Armour can also boast some fantastic engagement levels taking place on their site; SimilarWeb shows that they beat Adidas in all three measures of engagement. Under Armour do still lag behind Nike, but the gap in engagement levels is much smaller than in traffic measurements.
What Can Traffic Sources Tell Us?
The traffic sources breakdown provided by SimilarWeb provides some interesting insights into incoming traffic for the three brands. Under Armour has managed to carve out a very popular brand as their direct traffic sits at 35% compared to Adidas (31%) and Nike (28%). This indicates that, perhaps, Under Armour is already becoming the brand of choice in the US. Under Armour doesn’t perform as well in Referrals with just 20% of their traffic coming from the source. Adidas (23%) and Nike (32%) perform better here and highlights that Under Armour needs to work on finding affiliates and getting people linking to their brand online. If they can increase their share in this source then their audience will grow as their rivals’ drop. Search is a very successful source for Under Armour as 41% of their traffic comes from this source which illustrates a high emphasis on SEO and keywords. Interestingly, paid search traffic is at 26% and shows high investment in keywords. Adidas’ total search share is just less than 40% whilst, Nike’s is at 33%, so Under Armour can be satisfied with their performance in this source. Social traffic is very low for Under Armour (3%) and this compares unfavorably to Adidas (4%) and Nike (5%). Both Adidas and Nike have shown how successful this source can be, so Under Armour really needs to work on their social presence and create a buzz. This will strengthen their position in a source which is becoming more and more vital.
Building New Partnerships
Using the Referrals tab in SimilarWeb we’re able to identify who the most lucrative affiliates are that Under Armour should be targeting. Nike takes the majority of traffic for 20 of the top 20 referrals whilst Under Armour and Adidas fight it out for second place. 11 of the top 20 referrals are independent shopping sites who all drive large amounts of traffic; many of these sites receive little to no traffic from Under Armour. Therefore, these are the affiliates that Under Armour needs to build relationships with in order to increase their traffic share.
What Under Armour really wants to know is which products from Nike and Adidas are most popular. By identifying these, Under Armour will be able to make more informed choices about their product range in order to satisfy the customer’s needs. Luckily SimilarWeb’s Popular Pages lets us track these items. The stats show that menswear and, in particular, men’s shoes are the most popular items that people are searching for. Basketball shoes and running shoes are the most popular sports shoes in the top 10 and indicate that these are better to invest in than, say, rugby boots due to its lack of popularity in the US. By concentrating their efforts on these product lines than Under Armour can be sure of increasing visitor numbers and maximizing conversion rates.
SimilarWeb, of course, allows us to check any website on the internet, so this presents the opportunity of evaluating the three brands on sites dedicated to sports apparel. If we take a quick look at the Popular Pages tab for sportsauthority.com we can see that Nike and Adidas are still comfortable ahead with nearly 12x and 3x more traffic share respectively. This illustrates that Under Armour still have a lot of work to do in being the pick of the brands.
How Can Under Armour Progress?
Under Armour are certainly making inroads in the US market and, in the last 6 months at least, they have been outperforming Adidas in terms of traffic. Under Armour can also boast a strong brand in terms of traffic sources, but they begin to struggle in Referrals and Social, so understanding how Adidas and, in particular, Nike manage to succeed here is paramount in future success. Also of use is understanding which of your competitor’s products are most popular online, so Under Armour can then adjust their inventory to customer demands. By embracing all these changes into their marketing strategies, Under Armour will get closer and closer to challenging Nike.