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Under Armour Finds App Content Connects Consumers’ Desire And Discovery

With a focus on mobile and wearables, Under Armour lets customers to chart their athletic success in ways that lead them to stores, says Omnichannel VP Sid Jatia.

While the mapping and data collection capabilities of Under Armour’s fitness apps would seem to be an fairly easy way to engage consumers and direct them to local outlets, Sid Jatia, VP of Omnichannel/Digital for the athletic wear retailer, noted that these tools can also be minefield if not handled delicately.

For one thing, content and commerce need to work together without the one undermining the other, Jatia said in a presentation at Brand Innovator’s Brand Summit-Austin last month.

Over the past few years, Under Armour has used its four mobile apps —  the 24/7 activity monitor UA Record, nutrition/calorie counter MyFitnessPal, race-trainer MapMyRun, and customized workout planner Endomondo — to comprise a collective community of 200 million global users.

Samsung’s Under Armour IoT Alliance

Mobile Connections

“The question for is was how do we take all the data from these platforms, channel it back into brand engagement?” Jatia said. “We also wanted to figure out how to drive better awareness of our brand in specific markets. These apps, for a lot of people, represented the first connection to Under Armour for many consumers. There’s a lot of passion that we can build on for our 150 off-site stores and 20 direct stores as we open more locations.”

Sid Jatia at Brand Innovators’ Austin Summit

At the start of the year, Under Armour has placed a heavy emphasis on mobile as part of its marketing. To extend the reach of its use cases and data, the retailer also struck a partnership with Samsung’s line of wearables as both companies sought to advance their respective Internet of Things focus.

“Channels between content and commerce are becoming more blurred, and new channels are constantly coming into play creating more chaos than retailers have ever seen before,” Jatia said. “But by focusing our channels around specific lifestyles, we were able to deliver greater simplicity and a stronger connection to those passionate consumers.

“When looking at the intersection of commerce and content, most companies focus on those areas separately,” Jatia added. “There’s a real opportunity to engage consumers via lifestyle and then connect that back to the store.”

Intersection Of Desire And Discovery

Jatia’s presentation looked at the retail tension between convenience and desire among device-connected consumers. The rise of on-demand channels, from ride-hailing to food delivery, has changed the expectations consumers have and retailers have been scrambling to catch up.

“It’s a challenge when it comes to connecting discovery with desire for our retail stores,” Jatia said. ”

For example, if a consumer can’t find an item they want at Under Armour, they’ll look elsewhere. While that issue can be solved with the aligning inventory monitoring through platforms like Google, if I don’t even have the desire for a retailer’s item to begin with, that’s a much more difficult challenge, Jatia noted.

That’s where its apps and content come in: by giving consumers tools to customize their fitness programs, Under Armour knows the particular needs of its shoppers in specific places.

“Data has helped to let brands know what to offer to a consumer,” Jatia said. “But it only goes so far in terms of what you can do with those insights. Everything is becoming more mathematical — everything from advertising to the way we merchandise the inventory. And the same is true for where we open a store and how we help customers find us.”