The New Workforce: Selling Under Armour
"The New Work Force" is a series in which we'll report on how McCombs students are making a difference for companies through consulting projects, internships, and other real-world, hands-on efforts.
Sports apparel company Under Armor is a growing brand among college-age users; it’s sneaking up on Nike and Adidas in popularity and has recently benefitted from big-name endorsements such as Tom Brady, Michael Phelps, and Lyndsey Vonn. So the idea of tapping into the vast UT-area market made sense to the Texas regional office. To help them figure out their next steps, UA engaged students in the Texas MBA+ Leadership Program to conduct focus groups, work up a cost strategy and determine five-year projections for opening a store on Guadalupe across from campus.
Assignment: Under Armour believes sales initiatives targeted at college students are essential to long-term growth. This goal is challenged by the tendency of direct competitors to negotiate agreements with colleges that prevent Under Armour from selling products with university logos. The company asked a team of MBA students at McCombs to develop a college-retail strategy and provide specific recommendations for reaching students at UT.
Team: (Left to right, below) Joel Stewart (1st year), Kim Bailey (2nd year), Carolyn Cross (2nd year), Emily Behncke (1st year), Jesse Chen (1st year)
Strategy: The McCombs team researched college consumers at UT by conducting focus groups with undergraduate students and staging “shop-alongs” to better understand students' shopping habits.
“We conducted a competitive analysis of retail stores popular with the college-age consumer,” team leader Carolyn Cross said. “More specifically, we split up the work to conduct multiple store visits to research the retail layout of stores in close proximity to campus.”
Outcome: They determined that Under Armour had significant growth potential around the UT campus and recommended the company put a store close by.
“Our final presentation [at company headquarters in Baltimore] went very well and we made it more visual and interactive,” Cross said. “We included photos of potential store sites on the drag, a design of how the store should look, and a financial analysis to show the profitability of the store.”
“We were really able to empathize and identify with their target consumers since we are students ourselves. It was great to feel like Under Armour valued our opinion at the end of the project.”