CES 2017: Why Under Armour Is Adding Sleep to Fitness Arsenal

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Under Armour Tom Brady

Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank used CES to make very clear his company is no longer just an apparel and footwear brand but a tech company setting its sights on innovation, data and taking on the competition.

The goal, he said, is to create a “holistic system to help you make better choices about your life,” and turn “your data into direction,” as reported by Geekwire. “So when you think about what Facebook has done for social, what Amazon has done with Amazon Prime for purchasing, what LinkedIn has done for business, we expect to do with fitness and wellness.”

Specifically, Under Armour is putting biometric single customer views at the core of digitization in an battle with Apple and Samsung rather than category peers Adidas and Nike. “The challenge that I give to our product teams each season isn’t about what we are going to do about our current competition,” Plank added. “It’s what are we going to do if Apple and Samsung decide that they are going to start making apparel and footwear. And, if they did, what would it look like? And, more importantly, what would it do? How do we beat them to it, how are we thinking ahead of that curve.”

Working with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Under Armour introduced at CES high-tech pajamas designed to monitor an athlete’s sleep patterns so they can better prepare for the next day’s challenges. It also rolled out three new pairs of its UA Record Equipped running shoes, with sensors to monitor performance and activity.

Under Armour is shoring up its foundation, acquiring a range of companies including MyFitnessPal and MapMyFitness and now has over 300 engineers on its connected fitness team, plus a recent investment in the Gemini 2 connected running shoe released at last year’s CES.

Plank cited 2.6 billion workouts and activities logged via Under Armour’s apps from the brand’s 194 million registered users, a perfect trifecta for connection sleep, fitness, activity and nutrition. The company is expanding its collaboration with Johns Hopkins Medicine begun in 2015 to solidify its health and fitness apps with their research and expertise.

Under Armour’s newest product line—with the tagline “Rest. Win. Repeat.”—is also backed by Thrive Global founder Arianna Huffington, the sleep-convert author of “The Sleep Revolution; Transforming your life, one night at a time.”

Brady’s role in the new campaign has also provided fodder for a new Funny or Die video.

Other athletes, including ballet star Misty Copeland, MMA fighter Georges St-Pierre, World Champion sprinter Natasha Hastings and  US boxer Mikaela Mayer are participating in the campaign, as well.

Through its ongoing partnership with SAP, Under Armour has amassed the “most robust database of any apparel footwear company today,” added Plank, in Geekwire. “When you hear about companies like Amazon attributing 40% of their sales to their ‘Recommendation Engine’ alone it’s not hard to understand the role that data can, and frankly is, playing in many companies.”

“We’re now moving beyond transactional data to truly be able to hit our consumers on global point of sale and we can reach them in mere minutes,” said Plank, in The Drum. “2017 is the year that we embark on the true digitisation of our brand after 20 years of preparing ourselves as a business.”

Under Armour plans to invest more in Baltimore, where its headquarters is located. “We should be bringing jobs back, not just to America, but tightening supply chains all over the world,” Plank said. “We have the ability to do it better. It’s time for all of us to make an investment.”

US plans include backing a grand new hotel on Baltimore’s waterfront and being the city’s “new front porch.” Meanwhile, Plank emphasizes: “Anything that makes sense to have a chip in it, it should….we expect to build it first.”

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