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MBA Strategic Management - Case Study Guides - 2017 - Under Armour

MBA Business Strategy/Strategic Management

MBA Strategic Management - 2017 - Case Study Guides

 Under Armour

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CASE 20

Under Armour

 

 

  1. CASE ABSTRACT

 

      CEO Kevin Plank, “As a growth company, our success is not only defined by the results we achieve today, but how we position the Under Armour Brand for sustainable long-term growth.  We remain dedicated to building out large scalable businesses and see tremendous opportunities beyond our current business drivers.  We are relentless in our pursuit to better leverage the Under Armour Brand across broader categories such as footwear and deeper into international markets.  The strength of our Brand, the commitment of our team, and our ability to invest give us great confidence in our future.”[i]   While Plank expressed satisfaction over his quote, he noted that the second quarter saw the second consecutive decline in footwear sales.  UA’s footwear sales had declined by 4.5 percent over second quarter 2009 and was showing a 16.6 percent decline for the first six months of 2010 over 2009. This was in contrast to apparel, the company’s core category, which saw a 32.2 percent uptick over 2009, and accessories that had gone up by 28 percent (Table 1 shows summary performance for the first two quarters of fiscal 2010).[ii]

      “We have tremendous opportunities in our apparel category, particularly in the international markets.  We haven’t sold a single t-shirt in China,” he reflected.  “But to be a leading player in the field of sports, shouldn’t we have a major presence in athletic footwear?  That’s the key decision that I and my team have to make immediately.  How best to manage the balance among our three categories of products so that UA continues to be a force to be reckoned with in the industry?” 

 

 

Decision Date: 2010                       FY Sales: $1 billions

                                          FY Net Income: $68 million

 

  1. CASE SUBJECTS AND ISSUES

 

 

Blue Ocean Strategy                       Sports Apparel& Footwear         

Strategy Formulation                      Competitive Advantage

Strategy Implementation                   New Product Development

Core Competencies                         Market Segmentation

Competitive Strategy                      Manufacturing/Outsourcing

Differentiation                           Industry Analysis     

                 

                       

 


III. STEPS COVERED IN STRATEGIC DECISION-MAKING PROCESS

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. CASE OBJECTIVES

 

 

  1. To discuss product differentiation.

 

  1. To discuss global competition.

 

  1. To discuss international growth opportunities in China.

 

  1. To discuss blue ocean strategy.

 

     

  1. SUGGESTED CLASSROOM APPROACHES TO THE CASE

 

  1. This is an excellent case for instructor-led discussion.

 

  1. This is an excellent case for a team presentation.

 

  1. This is an excellent case for an individual or team strategic Audit.

 

 

 

VII. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

 

  1. What advantages did UA get upon its entry?

 

  1. What is UA’s competitive position in performance apparel at the time of the case? Can it sustain its position?

 

  1. Compare the performance apparel and footwear industries. Examine UA’s motivation for entry into this market.

 

  1. CASE AUTHOR’S TEACHING NOTE

UNDER ARMOUR IN 2010

TEACHING NOTE

CASE SYNOPSIS

Under Armour (UA) pioneered the performance apparel category in the sporting goods industry. The company, founded in 1996 by Kevin A. Plank, owned 78 percent of the market share in its category and had revenues of $856.4 million in 2009.  Around 94 percent of the company’s revenues, however, came from the United States and Canada. In 2006, UA took industry giant, Nike, head-on by entering the athletic footwear segment of the industry.  Early results indicated that UA had not made much headway in athletic footwear.  As Plank reviewed the results for the second quarter of 2010, he noticed that footwear revenues had decreased for the second quarter in a row.  He now faced a decision with regard to the company’s footwear foray and also in terms of allocating resources between various segments of the company and its international operations.

KEY ISSUES

The case identifies several key issues that a consumer products company faces:

  • Managing a company’s growth
  • Making strategic decisions across the product life cycle (PLC)
  • Balancing the resource needs of different segments of a company
  • Identifying and capitalizing on international opportunities

 

PLACEMENT

The case is ideal for an undergraduate or graduate course in strategic management.  Given the case issues listed above, the case is best positioned in the middle of the semester in the module (s) that deals with strategic positioning, competitive advantage, and resource allocation.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

The case deals with a company that has a very identifiable brand name in the United States and one that deals with a consumer product that college students are very familiar with.  As such, the nature of the product and the brand name are likely to draw considerable interest in the case from students.  As a corporate strategy case, “Under Armour in 2010” has specific learning objectives:

  1. The implications of entry into a “blue ocean” market
  2. The need to consider both differentiators and the economic logic of competing in consumer product markets
  3. Examining the application of resource-based view concepts (such as value creation zone, is a resource Valuable, Rare, Difficult to Imitate, Non-Substitutable, Exploitable, specific versus general resources) to corporate strategy
  4. The need to identify methods for allocating resources among various segments of a company

 

KEY THEORETICAL CONCEPTS

The case illustrates the use of various corporate strategy concepts.  These concepts are covered in a variety of reading materials.  What follows below is a list of the key concepts used in the case and the relevant reading material for that concept:

  • Under Armour created a new segment in the sports apparel part of the sporting goods industry. In effect, it identified a “blue ocean” market.  This concept is covered in W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne’s Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant, Harvard Business Press, 2005.  An article-length treatment of the blue ocean concept is available in W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne, “Creating New Market Space,” Harvard Business Review, January-February 1999, pp. 83-93.
  • The resource-based view of strategy is covered in a number of strategy text books and articles. While there are several articles/books that describe the resource-based view, the following are two good examples of short articles:
  • David J. Collis and Cynthia A. Montgomery, “Competing on Resources: Strategy in the 1990s,” Harvard Business Review, July-August 1995, pp. 118-128. This article offers an excellent and practical introduction to the resource-based view. The “Value Creation Zone” concept is a good framework to thoroughly examine the strategic value of a firm’s resources.

 

  • Pankaj Ghemawat and Patricio del Sol, “Commitment versus Flexibility,” California Management Review, Volume 40, No. 4, Summer 1998, pp. 26-42 offers a useful framework (with ample examples) to look at the issue of committing to a set of resources versus remaining strategically flexible with regard to resources.
  • The strategy diamond concept is a useful tool to examine the fit among the various elements of a company’s strategy.  Specifically, two key elements of the strategy diamond, “differentiators” and “economic logic” are particularly useful in the context of Under Armour.  The concept is covered in a highly accessible form in Mason A. Carpenter and William Gerard Sanders, Strategic Management: A Dynamic Perspective, 2nd edition, Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009.

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Examine Under Armour’s entry into the performance apparel industry. What advantages did UA get upon its entry?
  2. What is UA’s competitive position in performance apparel at the time of the case? Can it sustain its position?
  3. Compare the performance apparel and footwear industries. Examine UA’s motivation for entry into this market.
  4. What would your recommendation be to Kevin Plank about UA’s future? Explain your rationale.

 

SUGGESTED DISCUSSION FLOW

Given below is a diagrammatic representation of a possible pattern of discussion. The pastures correspond to the questions listed above.

 

 

SUGGESTED ANSWERS TO DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Examine Under Armour’s entry into the performance apparel industry. What advantages did UA get upon its entry?

UA, in effect, created the performance apparel industry.  Using the Kim and Mauborgne framework, Kevin Plank identified a blue ocean market space.  He started with the basic cotton t-shirt, found it ineffective to combat sweat, experimented with different types of fabric, and finally, created one that could wick away sweat and thus keep the athlete’s outerwear light. Students should be encouraged to use Kim and Mauborgne’s “Four Actions” framework of new market space creation: reduce, eliminate, create/add, and raise to examine the creation of performance apparel as a new market space.  They should be encouraged to start with the basic cotton t-shirt and, using the framework, see how Plank conceived of an entirely new business venture.

As the creator of a “blue ocean,” UA had significant first mover advantages.  They could position themselves as pioneers with a product that is useful to the customer and use the window before competitors step in to establish their brand.  Students will point out that, as a start up, UA was cash strapped and hence could not spend much on marketing.  The instructor can then steer the discussion to UA’s guerilla marketing strategy – going after athletes known to Kevin Plank, sending product samples to equipment managers of teams, etc. The “A” students will also point out the element of luck – Jeff George on USA Today, as well as fortuitous timing – Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday, etc. UA could do all this while being under the radar of Nike and others because the performance apparel market was too small and in a nascent stage for it to matter to the leaders in the athletic equipment industry.  In an MBA class, the instructor can pose the question: is this an example of disruptive technology? Was UA a classic disruptor who took advantage of flying under Nike’s radar?  What students should get out of this pasture of discussion is a sense of UA’s advantage because of its timing of entry.

  1. What is UA’s competitive position in performance apparel at the time of the case? Can it sustain its position?

Once UA’s first mover advantage is clear to students, the instructor should move the calendar forward to the present and pose the question: what is UA’s competitive standing now that Nike and Champion (among others) have entered the performance apparel industry?  As a backdrop to this discussion, the instructor can steer the students to examining UA’s valuable resources as a way to reinforce the resource-based view concepts.

UA had a 78% market share in the performance apparel market in 2009.  Clearly, it was the market leader and has been able to hold on to its first mover advantage.  Nike, Adidas, and Champion had introduced their own performance apparel brands, but haven’t been able to make deep inroads into UA’s market share.  Why is this so?  The discussion should turn to an evaluation of UA’s strategy diamond, in particular, its differentiators and economic logic. What are UA’s differentiators? Students are likely to point out UA’s brand name, its product technology (i.e., the performance attributes of the product), and the athletes who endorse the product.  Once again, the “A” students will likely point out that, for UA’s target market, the brand is seen as the maverick, a brand that they discovered for themselves and not one (like Nike) that they have seen their parents wearing.  There is a quote from Kevin Plank in the case that reiterates this: “we’re the athletic brand of this generation …”  Using these differentiators, UA was able to charge a premium price for its product and, as case Exhibit 3 points out, has not been forced to reduce its price upon the entry of competitors.

The instructor should encourage students to identify UA’s key resources/capabilities and have them take each resource through the VRINE (valuable, rare, costly to imitate, non-substitutable, exploitability) framework. This will allow the students to see the link between UA’s differentiators and its economic logic.  Resources/capabilities such as the brand name (which is both a resource and a differentiator), technology (which is embodied in product performance), and channel relationship are key here. By applying the VRINE framework, students should get a sense of the sustainability of UA’s competitive advantage in performance apparel.  For example, path dependence could be a key barrier to imitation as far as the brand name is concerned, while some element of causal ambiguity prevents imitation of UA’s technology. In an MBA class, the instructor (especially if there is a written assignment involving the case) can encourage students to create UA’s activity system (a concept developed by Michael Porter) to show how strong the activities are and how their interconnectedness – technology with brand name, both technology and brand name with endorsers’ support as well as the support of channel partners such as Dick’s Sporting Goods help reinforce UA’s competitive advantage.

At the end of this pasture of discussion, students should come away with a clear understanding of what gives UA a sustainable advantage in the performance apparel market.  As a segue to the next question, the instructor can pose the question: is UA’s competitive advantage limited to performance apparel or can it extend to other segments of the athletic equipment industry?

  1. Compare the performance apparel and footwear industries. Examine UA’s motivation for entry into this market.

The key point to be brought out in this pasture of discussion is that, while UA created the performance apparel industry, there are entrenched competitors in the athletic footwear industry at the time of UA’s entry.  While Nike and Adidas may have been caught unaware by UA (the disruptor) in performance apparel, the dynamics of the game in athletic footwear is very much in their favor.  They have a number of advantages going for them in athletic footwear: well established product line, strong brand recognition, solid channel relationships, a broad category of athlete endorsers, and above all, sizeable market share.  In fact, as the case points out, Nike’s advertising budget is greater than UA’s revenues! Students may point out that Kevin Plank regards UA brand name as particularly appealing to its target market.  Wouldn’t this help UA’s entry into footwear?  It would certainly help UA, but Nike has a strong brand name in athletic footwear and so does Adidas.

The bulk of this discussion should center on the nature of two important resources that UA has – its brand name and its moisture wicking technology – and the issue of their transferability to athletic footwear.

In their article, Ghemawat and del Sol examine resources from a key perspective: usage specificity.  Some resources are valuable but their usage is limited to specific contexts.  These are in contrast to “usage flexible” resources that do not have the same constraint. Usage flexible resources allow the firm to leverage them in multiple contexts.  The question that the instructor should pose to the class is this: are UA’s brand name and moisture wicking technology limited to the performance apparel market or would they be equally valuable in athletic footwear? This is likely to lead to an intense debate, particular the issue of brand name.  As a pioneer, is UA’s brand name too closely associated with performance apparel that people may not normally think of shoes when they think of the UA brand name? Here is where the class should debate the Kevin Plank quote: “We’re the athletic brand of this generation. The 15-year old kid of today is not growing up and saying, ‘Golly Jeez, I really want a pair of that brand with the orange (Nike) box.’ They’re growing up and saying, ‘I want a pair of Under Armours.’” Is Plank overestimating (understandable, as he is the founder and CEO) the value of the UA in non-performance apparel contexts?  Consider the comments of Eli Portnoy and Laura Ries, two marketing experts.  They believe that the UA brand name is too closely tied to the “undergarment” segment and that it does not transfer well outside it.  The “A” students will discern that these are the personal opinions of the people involved (Plank, Portnoy, and Ries) and that there is no objective evidence that the brand does not transfer (while the “C” students will probably not make the distinction between fact and opinion).

The debate should then move to the transferability of moisture wicking technology.  How does moisture wicking help in shoes?  Is UA featuring moisture wicking as a major element of its footwear?  Neither is supported by case facts. While moisture wicking is integral to an undergarment, it appears to be less integral to footwear.  Also, it does not appear that UA is making moisture wicking a major element of its footwear advertising.

This pasture should end with UA’s motivations to enter the footwear segment.  Three percent of the market is all that UA is looking for (“The Pursuit of Three Percent”), since this is 3% of a $31 billion market and getting that would nearly double UA’s revenues.  UA probably looks at this as so low a market share to be under the radar of Nike and Adidas.  UA may also believe that its brand name is valuable in the entire athletic equipment context and so sees this as a major opportunity to capitalize on.

 

 

  1. What would your recommendation be to Kevin Plank about UA’s future? Explain your rationale.

The discussion in the above pastures should set the stage nicely for the “action” question.  The decision has to do with UA’s entry into the athletic footwear market and whether this decision is the right one or should UA put more resources into international expansion.  While there is nothing theoretically wrong with pursuing both, students should keep in mind that UA has limited resources (money, top managers, etc.) and so may not be very effective in doing both.  It may be forced to emphasize one over the other.

A good way to look at the footwear industry entry question (in addition to the usage specificity issue raised earlier) is to go back to the “differentiators” and “economic logic” issues discussed in Question 2.  Do the same differentiators work equally well in athletic footwear as they do in performance apparel?  Is the link between differentiators and economic logic as sound here as it is in performance apparel?  Evidence in the case seems to suggest otherwise.  The case points out that: there was a decline in gross margins in 2009 because of “less favorable footwear and apparel mix,” liquidation of unsold footwear, the failure of the running shoes launch, etc.  Are these to be taken as “teething” troubles and are typical of a new market entrant?

The other pasture here is to ask the question: is the performance apparel segment saturated or is there growth still in this segment?  What about international expansion? Kevin Plank is worried that the company is going to miss the boat on growth.  His quote, “the time between $500 million and $1 billion is a weird time.  It’s the Bermuda Triangle …” is telling.  Is UA’s entry into footwear a knee jerk reaction to the “Bermuda Triangle” of growth?

UA has almost no international presence – it gets 94% of its revenues from the United States and Canada.  As Plank remarks, “we haven’t sold a single t-shirt in China.”  International expansion is a key move that UA has to make.  Its 78% market share in the U.S. is a valuable strength that it can leverage abroad. In the United States, UA is synonymous with performance apparel and so it makes sense to capitalize on this abroad. The instructor should steer the class to examine the international opportunity for UA.  If the class has international students, perhaps their perspective on how UA would be perceived in their home market would be a useful debate point.

Summary and Key Takeaways

The instructor should summarize the discussion at this point so that the students leave the class with key takeaways.  UA is a successful company that created a new market – a blue ocean market – and established a 78% U.S. market share in it.  It has a number of key resources supporting its competitive advantage in performance apparel.  The entry into footwear is tricky, though.  It faces entrenched competitors – Nike and Adidas – and there is also the question of what advantage it can carry over to footwear from performance apparel. Is its footwear entry taking its attention away

from opportunities in performance apparel outside of the United States and Canada?  Key takeaways include: the importance of managing growth (the Bermuda Triangle issue), the salience of context-specific differentiators that may not have equal value in other contexts, the value of a resource-based strategy, and the key issue of allocating resources among various company initiatives.

 

 

 

 

  1. STUDENT STRATEGIC AUDIT

 

  1. Current Situation

 

  1. Current Performance
  2. History: Founded by Kevin Plank in 2003, he took UA to go public with IPO of $13 in 2005.
  3. Economic Performance:
  • In 2009, UA earned revenue of $837 million. However, footwear sales declined by 4.5 % over the 2nd quarter and had 16.6% decline for first 6 months of 2010. While, both apparel sales increased by 32.2% and accessories sales increased by 28%
  • In 2010, UA had a market cap of $2.28 billion

 

  1. Strategic Posture

 

  1. UA’s current mission, objectives, strategies, and policies are both clearly stated and can be seen from its performance.

 

  1. UA is in the sports clothing & accessories business. Its mission is “TO MAKE ALL ATHLETES BETTER THROUGH PASSION, DESIGN AND THE RELENTLESS PURSUIT OF INNOVATION.” It is an appropriate statement for UA because its products are meant to provide high-end performance for sports enthusiasts.

 

  1. The corporate, business and functional objectives are to 1) Achieve both growth in sales and profits, 2) Provide technological leadership in the field of performance apparel and 3) Increase leverage for UA brand across broader categories such as footwear and deeper into international markets. These objectives are consistent with its strategic postures.

 

  1. The corporate, business and functional strategies are to pursue 1) Growth through innovation and increased performance apparel technologies with development and sale of the footwear line is to create higher demand and revenue, 2) Product differentiation with focus on a competitive pricing strategy, 3) Highly integrated marketing and sales through its distribution channels and 4) Increase international market share through its international expansion. These strategies are consistent with its strategic postures

 

  1. The policies are to focus on utilizing microfiber technologies, and on producing high performing apparels. UA has extensive portfolio of intellectual properties from its proprietary technologies that are used to provide better overall performance. They are consistent with its strategic postures of producing high performance apparel that the latest technologies.

 

  1. UA’s current strategic postures reflect its international expansion plan. Despite declining footwear sales in 2009 & 2010, Kevin Plank believes that UA needs to have major presence in global athletic footwear industry. He mentioned that “35 share of the market would nearly double UA’s total revenues.” Current international branded footwear market is worth $31 billion.
  2. Corporate Governance
  3. Board of Directors

 

  1. The 8 members of BOD are Kevin Plank, Byron Adams Jr., Douglas Colthrap, Anthony Deering, A.B. Krongard, Bill McDermott, Eric Olson, Brenda Piper, Harvey Sanders, and Thomas Sipple. They are all external directors, except Kevin Plank, Chairman & President, CEO and Byron Adams, CPO.

 

  1. In total, the BODs own in total around 30% of its shares, with Kevin Plank owning 25% of the shares.

 

  1. The stock is publicly traded.

 

  1. The directors have diverse work experiences in industries such as design, manufacturing, finance, marketing, investment, software, law and corporate governance. They also have international experience necessary to support its international expansion.

 

  1. Most of them have been Under Armor directors since its IPO in 2005.

 

  1. These board members are actively involved in Under Armor’s strategic management. They actively participate and suggest its future directions.

 

  1. Top Management

 

  1. The top management consists of Kevin Plank (Chairman, President and CEO), Byron Adams (CPO), Brad Dickerson (CFO), Kip Fulks (COO), Karl-Heinz Maurath (President, International), Gene McCarthy (SVP of Footwear), Matthew Mirchin (SVP, Global Brand & Sport Marketing), Adam Peake (SVP of US Sales), John Rogers (VP/GM of E-commerce) and Henry Stafford (SVP of Apparel).

 

  1. The 10 executives have diverse work experiences, with backgrounds in different industries including technology, consulting, design, sales, and marketing. They are international experts in countries such as in Latin America and Scandinavia.

 

  1. The top management has been responsible for Under Armor’s performance over the past few years. They helped Under Armor to strive in sport apparel industry.

 

  1. It has established a systematic approach to strategic management only to a certain extent due to Under Armor’s nature of using innovation as its main drive of growth.

 

  1. The executives have been heavily involved in the strategic management process.

 

  1. N/A

 

  1. Strategic decisions are made ethically in a socially responsible manner. Being socially responsible is part of Under Armor’s corporate culture. Its principle of developing non-petroleum based vehicles clearly shows its commitment to foster sustainability.

 

  1. N/A

 

  1. Top management is sufficiently skilled to cope with likely future challenges. They have directed Under Armor into the right direction towards overall growth.

III. External Environment (EFAS refer Exhibit 1)

  1. Societal Environment (PESTEL Analysis)

 

  1. Economy

 

  1. General performance apparel and footwear industry is growing and very huge globally. (O)
    1. Regarding athletic footwear industry, UA is competing in a huge global industry.
  • In performance apparel industry, that UA created, it has 78% market share in 2009.

 

  1. The economic recovery has created more demand for higher priced products. (O)

 

  1. UA’s pricing strategy is very competitive, similar to Nike, and much higher compared to the rest in apparel industry. (T)

 

  1. Technological

 

Industry-related technology is always advancing in sporting goods industry. Some are available for general use, however most technologies are proprietary. Many companies own patents of technologies that they developed in-house. Development of new technologies will indirectly decrease cost of production and definitely increase price tag of the products, due to its more advance features. (O)

 

  1. Political – Legal

As most of the sporting goods companies outsource their manufacturing functions, they are prone to labor related issues such as sweatshops and underage labors. Many companies in fact have been charged with this issue. (T)

  1. Socio-Cultural

 

  1. The women’s segment of the sports apparel category is the fastest growing industry segment. Women are now spending more of their income on sporting apparel. (O)

 

  1. Apparel made from synthetic products is the fastest growing segment in the sports apparel market. More and more people want lighter and better performing sports apparel. (O)

 

  1. More people are getting more conscious with their health, and exercising is one of the proven way to stay in shape. (O)

 

  1. Customer perceptions of performance apparel being just for athletes, not for everyone. The value of the performance may not be widely realized. (T)

 

  1. Similar as fashion industry, this industry is highly based on trends, meaning that customers’ perceptions on products are constantly changing. (T)

 

  1. Task Environment

 

  1. Threat of New Entrants: Low
    1. Advance technology is well understood by major sporting goods companies.
    2. It is very difficult to get into such a saturated industry. Products have to be both cutting-edge and affordable.
    3. A competitor needs to develop its own technologies/partner with another company.

 

  1. Bargaining Power of Buyers: High
    1. Saturated industry, customers are highly influenced by trend and have number of choices in each category of sporting goods.
    2. Companies compete on variety of price points.

 

  1. Threat of Substitute Products: Low
    1. Substitute products: casual apparel, non-specialized footwear.
    2. Due to large selection of sporting goods, and its relatively low price, substitute products are not as favorable by customers.

 

  1. Bargaining Power of Suppliers: Low
    1. Products manufacturing are sourced to many suppliers and contractors. Companies typically has local offices to monitor their manufacturers.
    2. As the industry is highly based on latest technology and trend, contractors need to compete to produce on-time.

 

  1. Rivalry Among Competing Firms: High
    1. Primary competitors are Nike, Adidas, Champions, New Balance, Reebok, Puma, Fila, Le Coq Sportif.
    2. Competition among them is highly based on price points. Technology is secondary factor to most of them. Only those that sell on the higher range of the price, competes on technology.

 

  1. Power of Other Stakeholders: Low
    1. Labor unions are constantly protesting against the industry regarding the companies’ actions towards their labors. However, they are not very much affected as labor laws are not as strict abroad, where they manufacture their products.

 

  1. Summary of External Factors

Based on the PESTEL Analysis and Porter’s Five Forces, Under Armour, as an incumbent, is in an attractive performance apparel and footwear industry. Due to intense competitive rivalry, UA needs to always differentiate itself and offer cutting-edge technology to the customers. UA has large room to grow, considering that the company is considering expanding globally to large untapped market such as China, India, Indonesia, etc. It is crucial for UA to keep its customers satisfied with the products based on the price they are paying for, as it will lead to long lasting brand loyalty.

 

  1. Internal Environment (IFAS refer Exhibit 2)
  2. Corporate Structure

 

  1. UA’s current corporate structure is centralized, with all the decisions made in the HQ. UA also relies heavily on its intellectual property and its patents. It is organized on the basis of functions which can be clearly seen from the role of the top-level executives. (S)

 

  1. The structure is clearly understood by everyone in the corporation (implied by case).

 

  1. Currently structure is consistent with its corporate strategies. (S)

 

  1. Not typically comparable to other companies of this type and size as most of similar operations that focus on performance apparel is a department within a large company. (S)

 

  1. Corporate Culture

 

  1. Despite operating in a considerable rigid industry, there is a share belief of employing innovation in works and operates as a football team; its environment is fast paced. (S)

 

  1. The culture of innovation and hardworking is consistent with its corporate strategies. (S)

 

  1. The culture holds the central role in solving problems faced by the corporation. (S)

 

  1. The culture is compatible with the employees’ diversity of backgrounds in sporting goods industry. UA operates its business like a football team. (S)

 

  1. UA outsourced almost all of its manufacturing to contract manufacturers in Asia and Latin America. However, UA operates a small manufacturing facility in Glen Burnie, Maryland to provide superior and quick service to special customers. (S)

 

  1. Corporate Resources

 

  1. Marketing
  2. Under Armour brand is heavily tied to the high performance apparel, that started with providing athletes with what they need. Marketing strategies, is guided by its brand mission as well. (S)
  3. Marketing strategy is clearly stated from its company’s vision of “The athletic brand of this generation. And next.”
  4. They are consistent with the corporation’s overall strategic postures.
  5. Under Armour’s current marketing outreach is focused on the performance apparel industry. The marketing mix (4Ps) is targeted on individuals in the 15-25 age groups. UA focuses on a narrower segment of “athletes”. It has a very competitive pricing strategy. UA revenue is mainly from US & Canada, with more than 20,000 stores selling its products. (S)
  6. Trends emerge is that customers are becoming more aware of higher performance apparel.
  7. The trend has significantly impacts past performance and will definitely boost future performance.

iii. This analysis support the corporation’s past and pending strategic decisions.

  1. Marketing does provide UA with significant advantage. UA use “influencers” to market his prodcuts.
  2. UA’s marketing performance compared to other corporations is as advance and as rigorous as other companies. It spends around 13 % of its revenues on marketing
  3. N/A
  4. The marketing operations outside US is still very limited, with 95% of its revenue comes from US & Canada. However, UA is strategizing to go into foreign market firstly through its footwear line.
  5. N/A
  6. Finance
  7. Main objectives are to increase growth in profits and sales by creating and selling new products as well as providing technology leadership with its performance apparel products. UA broke down its revenues into: apparel, footwear, accessories and licensing. (S)
  8. The objectives are clearly stated.

 

  • The objectives are consistent with their goals of creating sustainable long term growth. UA is dedicated to build out large scalable businesses beyond its current business drivers. It want to enter international markets as well.

 

  1. Under Armour cash position isn’t ideal due to its footwear segment. Despite the IPO in 2005, UA has -7.5 % cash flow margins in 2007. It has been recovering ever since. UA had a decline in gross profit margins in 2009 due to less favorable footwear and apparel product mix and liquidation of unsold footwear inventory. UA has generally consistent and favorable margins. (W)

 

  1. UA is a dominant leader in the performance apparel industry and has many proprietary technologies. However, in the footwear industry, UA is not performing as well as it would want to.

 

  • N/A

 

  • UA’s decline in profit margin in 2009 is a result of uncertainty in customers’ buying trends. UA financial future success depends largely on its extensive marketing initiatives.
  • Yes, UA is planning to expand its footwear line globally and it is focusing on improving its technologies in the performance apparel industry.

 

  1. Finance does provide UA with a competitive advantage as they are considerably stable financially at the moment.

 

  1. UA’s financial performance is comparable to other sporting goods companies. Its market capitalization is not as large as other larger companies, due to its specialization in performance-based products.

 

  1. Yes, they are public company that is required to follow GAAP and SEC regulations.

 

  1. N/A

 

  1. N/A

 

  1. Research and Development (R&D)
  2. The technologies are the main source of advantage for UA. These are the microfiber/temperature control that help speed up evaporation of sweat, marketed as the ColdGear and HeatGear; “LockerTag” that prevent skin irritation from tags and labels. (S)

 

  1. The R&D objectives are implied by the business they operate in (performance apparel industry) and their financials with the operating expenses heavily weighted to R&D.

 

Ii. Yes it is consistent with their objective to provide high performance apparel for “athletes”.

 

Iii. Technology is critical to corporate performance.  The company’s revenue stream is contingent on developing superior performance related products.

 

  1. Yes, they are focused on technology innovation and education and put the appropriate resources toward that objective.

 

  1. Yes, their biggest competitive advantage is their proprietary technologies that are patented or patent pending.

 

  1. They are earning revenues from the sales of the performance apparels, footwear and accessories. (S)

 

  1. As any other sporting goods companies, UA’s product design is kept at its HQ. There is no technology transfer to the manufacturing division, as it is all outsourced. (W)

 

  1. N/A

 

  1. Their investment in R&D is considerably more compared to other sporting goods companies due to its focus in high performance technology

 

  1. N/A; products design is done in US.
  2. N/A

 

  1. Operations and Logistics

 

  1. UA outsourced almost all of its manufacturing to contract manufacturers in Asia and Latin America. A team from UA evaluates potential contract manufacturers on quality, social compliance, financial strengths prior to certifying them. Manufacturers procures raw materials and provides finished products to company’s distribution facility. Manufacturing contracts are typically short-term and UA ensured that it has multiple manufacturers for a single product. It also operates a Special Make-Up Shop in Glen Burnie, Maryland to provide superior, quick service to special customers. (S)

 

  1. They are clearly stated in the case.

 

  1. It is consistent with its strategy of keeping high standard for its products.

 

  1. UA operates 2 leased distribution facilities in Glen Burnie, MD, near its HQ in Baltimore, MD. Products are shipped to retailers and company stores via third party logistics provider, both in US and Europe. Because of overseas manufacturing, lead times for design and production is long. (W)

 

  1. UA outsources all of its manufacturing plant.

 

  1. N/A

 

  1. Outsourced manufacturing may be vulnerable outside attention of not complying with international labor standards. Local manufacturers typically have less requirements for operations. (W)

 

  1. N/A

 

  1. UA cost of production is similar to other sporting goods companies that outsource their manufacturing division.

 

  1. UA needs to ensure the overall issues related to outsourcing to developing countries.

 

  1. UA has to make sure that the contractors remain compliant to prevent any legal issues.

 

iii. UA’s Hong Kong and Guangzhou, China offices supports and monitors its manufacturing activities for apparel and footwear.

 

  1. The operations don’t yet provide the company with a competitive advantage except for their proprietary technologies.

 

  1. Due to nature of outsourcing, UA does not have fully control of manufacturing process. (W)

 

  1. N/A

 

  1. N/A

 

  1. Human Resources Management (HRM)

 

  1. UA employed 3000 people in September 2010. Half of the employees work at manufacturing facilities, with the rest on distribution facilities and corporate HQ. UA’s employees are non-unionized. UA has a very strong football-based corporate culture. UA uses football terms such as teammates and huddles. UA believes in playing offense even in a tough economic condition. It has a get-it-done attitude and never considering UA to be too small to take on other sporting products giants. (S)

 

 

 

  1. The HRM objectives and strategies are clearly stated in the case even going as far to use the phrase ‘teammates’ to refer to employees.

 

  • Yes, HRM is consistent with its goals to provide high-performance products.

 

  1. UA’s HRM strategy is largely based on its culture and history of the founder. (S)

 

  1. UA manages its HRM as a football team.

 

  • Strong company culture will increase employees’ sense own ownership to the company.

 

  • Yes, the company’s focus is on innovation and the HRM practices coincide with that focus.

 

  • Yes, the HRM gives the company a competitive advantage by integrating strong culture to its business operations.

 

  1. Yes, the get-it-done attitude is a source of competitive advantage.

 

  1. N/A

 

  1. N/A

 

  1. N/A

 

  1. N/A; Manufacturing division is outsourced to contractors.

 

  1. N/A

 

  1. Information Systems (IS)

There is very limited information on usage of IS as a strategy for Under Armour. The case does emphasize the role of technology in UA’s products, however, there is not enough information to imply on IS role.

 

 

  1. Summary of Internal Factors

Currently, marketing is Under Armour’s core competency. With strong “influencers”, UA could effectively market its products to “athletes” or those who would want high-performance sporting apparel. R&D is also a source of competitive advantage for UA as its technology enables the company to strive in performance apparel industry. UA is dominating the performance apparel industry with 78% market share in 2009. As any other sporting goods companies, UA outsourced most of its manufacturing activities and keep one small, specialized manufacturing close to its HQ for special customers. Financial performance shows encouraging trend despite bad cash flow margin in 2007. Regarding HRM, UA runs its business like a football team. It has such a strong corporate culture that is based on its no-give up attitude.

  1. Analysis of Strategic Factors (SWOT)
  2. Situational Analysis (SFAS refer Exhibit 3)

Please refer to Exhibit 3, the Strategic Factors Analysis Summary

  1. Review of Mission and Objectives

There is no change required for UA’s mission and objectives.

  1. Strategic Alternatives and Recommended Strategy
  2. Strategic Alternatives
  3. The current objectives can be met if UA continues to focus on its technology improvement to create high performance products. UA also has to ensure that it maintain proper control of its contract manufacturers. UA has to ensure that it keeps improving its marketing strategies, to better understand the needs of the customers. Lastly, UA need to ensure that the footwear segment could be improved through more aggressive efforts to promote the products globally.
  4. The major alternative strategy that is available to UA is to just focus on the performance apparel and accessories, momentarily stopping its footwear segment. Under this strategy, UA will have more time to experiment and improve its footwear technology. UA needs to produce higher performance footwear, then create a new segment in footwear industry, as what it did on the apparel industry. UA then would not be affected by the financial burden of the footwear segment.
  5. a) Cost leadership would be a difficult strategy for UA to implement due to the high costs associated with improving high performance technologies. It is also against UA’s fundamental mission and strategic direction. Based on the industry that UA is in, differentiation fits the best. It is currently leading the performance apparel industry, and it has to maintain its lead against other companies.
  6. b) It would be difficult for UA to adopt a stability corporate strategy because it will remain stagnant. It is the least applicable to UA. A growth strategy is the best option for US because there is still large percentage of untapped market in the industry. UA needs to capitalize this opportunity.
  7. c) A clear functional strategy that would fit well with current business and corporate level strategies at UA would be a technological and marketing advancement. UA needs to be willing to fund technologies R&D and marketing research to improve its product offerings to retain and attract new customers. UA needs to educate the public that its products are not just for athletes; it is of high value to everyone that does any kind of sports.
  8. Recommended Strategy
  9. I believe that UA should pursue a differentiation business level strategy. This will allow UA to maintain its leadership status in performance apparel industry. UA will be able to great high quality product and charge a premium price. For corporate level strategy, growth strategy suits UA well. Sporting products industry is still slowly expanding as more people find the benefit of exercising. In addition to keeping is majority share in performance apparel industry, UA needs to invest in technologies and marketing efforts to break into global footwear industry. It is the functional strategy that UA should pursue.
  10. The differentiation strategy is made possible due to the strategic factors related to technology advancements and strong marketing initiatives. It will address short term problems such as decrease profit margin for certain segment, and will also tackle long term issues of maintaining growth. The corporate level strategy of growth will address the issues related to increasing interest in synthetic based apparels and also the uprising group of people that will pick up exercising. Growing the products functionality will let UA to provide customers with larger amount of options to fit their needs. It will also generate higher revenues for the company. Finally, technological and marketing leadership is crucial as a foundation for UA.
  11. The way that the company is shaped currently is mostly in line with the strategic direction that UA need to follow. However, more focused efforts on marketing the footwear segment is of utmost important for UA to be able to grow globally.
  12. The proposed revised strategies would coincide well with the existing corporate environment and distinctive competencies. UA would continue to leverage its strong culture to focus on R&D on both technology and marketing. One possible area of concern is related to the fact that companies that outsource often entangled to issues related to labor law. UA need to maintain the high standard in its offshore contract manufacturing plant.

VII. Implementation

  1. N/A

 

  1. The proposed strategies are financially feasible. If done properly, it would only increase UA’s cost to certain extend as these improvements will reflect on overall sales and increase brand recognition.

 

  1. No radical new operating procedures needed to be developed. UA’s mission and objectives clearly resonate with the proposed strategies. Overall, UA needs to increase its effort in what it is best at, technology and marketing initiatives.

 

VIII. Evaluation and Control

  1. N/A the case does not discuss information systems at Under Armour.

 

  1. N/A

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exhibit 1 - External Factor Analysis Summary (EFAS)

 

 

Key External Factor

 

Weight

 

Rating

 

Weighted Score

 

Comments

 

Opportunities

 

Huge global market

 

 

Trend of synthetic apparel

 

Advancing technology

 

 

Uprising interest in exercising

 

 

 

 

0.15

 

 

0.15

 

 

0.15

 

 

0.10

 

 

 

2

 

 

5

 

 

4

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

0.3

 

 

0.75

 

 

0.6

 

 

0.2

 

 

 

UA dominates the performance apparel industry and competing in gigantic footwear industry.

 

UA competes in the fastest growing segment in sports apparel market.

 

UA owns one of the best technologies, especially in performance apparel industry

 

Sports products industry is expanding in terms of age range and gender, with more women consuming the products.

 

Threats

 

Competitively priced

 

 

Outsourcing labor issues

 

Unpredictable industry

 

Customer perception

 

 

 

 

 

0.10

 

 

0.15

 

 

0.10

 

 

0.10

 

 

 

 

 

3

 

 

3

 

 

4

 

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

0.3

 

 

0.45

 

 

0.4

 

 

0.3

 

 

 

 

 

UA competes in the higher price segment along with giants like Nike and Adidas.

 

UA has to constantly monitor its contract manufacturers to avoid legal labor-related issues.

 

Sporting products industry is based highly on trends, difficult to manage customers’ preferences.

 

Many customers could not find the values in performance apparel.

 

 

Total Scores

 

1

 

 

 

3.3

 

 

 

 

 

Exhibit 2 - Internal Factor Analysis Summary (IFAS)

 

 

Key Internal Factor

 

Weight

 

Rating

 

Weighted Score

 

Comments

 

Strengths

 

Centralized corporate structure

 

Strong corporate culture

 

Well-planned marketing strategies

 

R&D & technology driven

 

Lower overall manufacturing costs

 

 

 

 

0.05

 

 

0.10

 

 

0.15

 

 

0.15

 

 

0.10

 

 

 

3

 

 

3

 

 

4

 

 

5

 

 

3

 

 

 

0.15

 

 

0.3

 

 

0.6

 

 

0.75

 

 

0.3

 

 

 

UA’s strategic decision-making is handled by executives that truly understand the industry.

 

Strong corporate culture and values has guided UA to where it is today.

 

UA has extensive marketing strategies, such as the use of ‘influencers’ to better target customers.

 

UA’s main drive of growth is through innovative technologies such as the microfiber and “Lockertag”.

 

UA outsources its manufacturing operations, but at the same time have multiple manufacturers.

 

Weaknesses

 

No technology transfer

 

Exposed to labor issues

 

Unfavorable cash flow history

 

Long lead time for design and production

 

 

 

0.10

 

 

0.10

 

 

0.10

 

 

0.15

 

 

 

2

 

 

3

 

 

3

 

 

4

 

 

 

0.2

 

 

0.3

 

 

0.3

 

 

0.6

 

 

 

UA keeps its technology at its HQ, do technology sharing with manufacturing plants.

 

With outsourcing, UA is vulnerable to issues related to developing countries’ lenient labor laws.

 

UA has been significantly impacted by decreasing profit margin in the footwear segment

 

With outsourcing, UA has less control to its manufacturing; it takes longer to convert design into products.

 

Total Scores

 

1

 

 

 

 

3.5

 

 

 

 

Exhibit 3 – Strategic Factor Analysis Summary (SFAS)

 

Key strategic Factors

 

Weight

 

Rating

 

Weighted Score

 

Duration

 

Comments

 

 

Short

 

Inter

 

Long

 

 
 

External Environment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Huge global market (O)

 

 

0.08

 

 

2

 

 

0.16

 

 

 X

 

 

X

 

 

 X

 

 

UA dominates the performance apparel industry and competing in gigantic footwear industry.

 

Trend of synthetic apparel (O)

 

0.08

 

 

5

 

 

0.40

 

 

 X

 

 

 X

 

 

 

 

 

UA competes in the fastest growing segment in sports apparel market.

 

Advancing technology (O)

 

 

0.08

 

 

4

 

 

0.32

 

 

 X

 

 

X

 

 

 X

 

 

UA owns one of the best technologies, especially in performance apparel industry.

 

Uprising interest in exercising (O)

 

0.05

 

 

2

 

 

0.10

 

 

 X

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

Sports products industry is expanding in terms of age range and gender, with more women consuming the products.

 

Labor-related outsourcing issues (T)

 

0.08

 

 

3

 

 

0.24

 

 

 X

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

UA has to constantly monitor its contract manufacturers to avoid legal labor-related issues.

 

Unpredictable industry (T)

 

0.05

 

4

 

0.20

 

 X

 

 X

 

X

 

UA has to constantly monitor its contract manufacturers to avoid legal labor-related issues.

 

Customer perceptions (T)

 

0.05

 

3

 

0.15

 

X

 

 X

 

 

 

UA has to constantly monitor its contract manufacturers to avoid legal labor-related issues.

 

 

 

 

Exhibit 3 – Strategic Factor Analysis Summary (SFAS)

Competitive pricing (T)

 

0.05

 

3

 

0.15

 

 X

 

X

 

 X

 

UA competes in the higher price segment along with giants like Nike and Adidas.

 

Internal Environment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Centralized corporate structure (S)

 

0.04

 

 

3

 

 

0.12

 

 

 X

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

UA’s strategic decision-making is handled by executives that truly understand the industry.

Strong corporate culture (S)

0.06

 

3

 

0.18

 

 X

 

X

 

X

 

Strong corporate culture and values has guided UA to where it is today.

Well-planned marketing strategies (S)

0.10

 

 

4

 

 

0.40

 

 

X

 

 

X

 

 

 X

 

 

UA has extensive marketing strategies, such as the use of ‘influencers’ to better target customers.

Lower overall manufacturing costs (S)

0.06

 

 

3

 

 

0.18

 

 

 X

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

UA outsources its manufacturing operations, but at the same time have multiple manufacturers.

No technology transfer (W)

 

0.06

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

0.12

 

 

 

 X

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 X

 

 

 

UA keeps its technology at its HQ, do technology sharing with manufacturing plants.

Unfavorable cash flow history (W)

0.08

 

 

3

 

 

0.24

 

 

X

 

 

 X

 

 

 

 

 

UA has been significantly impacted by decreasing profit margin in the footwear segment.

Long lead time for design and production (W)

 

0.08

 

 

4

 

 

0.32

 

 

X

 

 

 X

 

 

 

 

 

With outsourcing, UA has less control to its manufacturing; it takes longer to convert design into products.

Total

 

1

 

 

3.28

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exhibit 4 - Financial Ratios

 

 

 

 

Ratios

 

 

 

For the Fiscal Period Ending

12 months
Dec-31-2007

12 months
Dec-31-2008

12 months
Dec-31-2009

Profitability

 

 

 

  Return on Assets %

 15.9%

 10.9%

 10.3%

  Return on Capital %

 20.9%

 14.3%

 13.4%

  Return on Equity %

 21.2%

 12.5%

 12.8%

  Return on Common Equity %

 21.1%

 12.4%

 12.7%

 

 

 

 

Margin Analysis

 

 

 

  Gross Margin %

 50.3%

 48.7%

 47.9%

  SG&A Margin %

 27.9%

 30.0%

 29.6%

  EBITDA Margin %

 16.6%

 13.6%

 13.3%

  EBITA Margin %

 14.5%

 10.8%

 10.2%

  EBIT Margin %

 14.2%

 10.6%

 10.0%

  Earnings from Cont. Ops Margin %

 8.7%

 5.3%

 5.5%

  Net Income Margin %

 8.7%

 5.3%

 5.5%

  Net Income Avail. for Common Margin %

 8.6%

 5.2%

 5.4%

  Normalized Net Income Margin %

 9.2%

 6.0%

 6.0%

  Levered Free Cash Flow Margin %

 (7.6%)

 4.8%

 13.7%

  Unlevered Free Cash Flow Margin %

 (7.5%)

 4.9%

 13.8%

 

 

 

 

Asset Turnover

 

 

 

  Total Asset Turnover

1.8x

1.7x

1.7x

  Fixed Asset Turnover

14.7x

11.5x

11.7x

  Accounts Receivable Turnover

7.3x

8.3x

10.7x

  Inventory Turnover

2.4x

2.1x

2.7x

 

 

 

 

Short Term Liquidity

 

 

 

  Current Ratio

3.4x

3.0x

3.7x

  Quick Ratio

1.4x

1.4x

2.2x

  Cash from Ops. to Curr. Liab.

NM

0.5x

1.0x

  Avg. Days Sales Out.

                         49.8

                         44.1

                         34.2

  Avg. Days Inventory Out.

                       149.6

                       171.3

                       135.2

  Avg. Days Payable Out.

                         46.1

                         60.1

                         62.4

  Avg. Cash Conversion Cycle

                       153.2

                       155.3

                       107.0

 

 

 

 

Long Term Solvency

 

 

 

  Total Debt/Equity

 5.1%

 13.8%

 5.1%

  Total Debt/Capital

 4.9%

 12.1%

 4.8%

  LT Debt/Equity

 3.5%

 4.0%

 2.7%

  LT Debt/Capital

 3.3%

 3.5%

 2.6%

  Total Liabilities/Total Assets

 28.2%

 32.1%

 26.7%

 

 

 

 

 

 

[i] Under Armour Press Release, July 27, 2010, http://investor.underarmour.com/releases.cfm

 

[ii] Op.cit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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