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In 2014, Under Armour chose to take a bite out of a market segment that they previously had weak performance with. The women’s athletics marketplace had been a disaster when Adidas attempted to market to it, and they were the number two athletic-weat brand in the world. So why then, would Under Armour go after it just one year later. Simple, Kevin Plank, Under Armour’s founder, thought he could do better….and he did.

When Under Armour launched the multi-channel campaign, he threw more at it than any other marketing effort. He wanted to saturate the market with messages of non-traiditional athletes succeeding in very athletic ways. He was telling a story that a ballerina, or a boxing beauty queen, was as much of a tough, strong athlete, as the football players that made up the core of the Under Armour customer base.

The contraposition of beauty and brawn made the campaign a success. Under Armour grew their women’s clothing revenues to 30% of their total revenues. People got behind the message, and soon expansion into even more products and market segments followed.

Do what can we take away from this story….

  1. Just because someone else tried, doesn’t mean that the market segment you are wanting to attack won’t respond
  2. Shifts in market segments require creating discomfort in the mind of the consumer, forcing them to think about your product in a way they hadn’t yet. Think of it as Cher in Moonstruck slapping you across the face and yelling “Snap Out of It!”
  3. Moving into a new market segment requires shifting mindsets from the inert set to the evoked set. Inert meaning that no one thinks about you in the segment, but they don’t have anything against you. Evoked means that when they think about the segment, they think about you.
  4. It’s not necessary to use influencers, as much as it is to use aspirational examples, to bolster the story that drives the emotion to think of your product. It just so happens that influencers tend to be the best of what they do. They tend to be the aspirational source, but not always. Sometimes we are inspired to do better when a kid in a wheelchair offers a fuzzy blanket in exchange for a donation. So your segment your targeting may or may not need “Influencers”, but perhaps just micro-influencers.

SO what market do I think can be marketed to, as a new segment? Well, according to the CDC over 40% of all Americans are obese… not overweight…obese. So I’m not targeting a diet food, or an exercise program. I would target the personal professional and casual clothing industry. Big people have the need to look good at work or out on the town, but anyone overweight, much less obese, has to battle the looks of disdain and even fear when a skinny rail of a millennial sees you walking towards their department, knowing they have nothing that will fit you. This a huge market potential that currently is served really by only one retailer, DXL. Previously, Rochester Big and Tall also existed and targeted high end clientele. However, they suffered from poor word of mouth and no social media environment to whom to market, and they were ultimately purchased by DXL. A company that could develop a multi-channel, inspirational campaign that lifted (no pun intended), the obese man and woman up, with products that were of very good quality materials, built well with wearability in mind, and priced like similar products in the 99% of other stores, would certainly corner the market. And yes, I would be one of those customers!