We shopped at Under Armour and saw why it's still struggling to win over women

Business Insider/Jessica TylerWhile Under Armour has diversified its marketing campaigns, the stores and merchandise fall short.
  • Un der Armour‘s store design and marketing have been criticised in the past for being very male-focused.
  • But Under Armour has been trying to shake its reputation of being a traditionally masculine retailer.
  • “While store design, marketing, and products remain male-focused, Under Armour will continue to struggle with women. This is a lost opportunity as female sports and fitness remain a fast-growth part of the market,” Neil Saunders, managing director of the retail consulting firm GlobalData Retail, wrote in April.

Under Armour has been trying to reach women for years, but its efforts still appear to be falling short.

The sportswear company has long described the women’s apparel market as a big opportunity for growth. As of July 2017, women’s products represented $US1 billion of Under Armour’s $US4.8 billion revenue, according to AdAge.

That year, Under Armour launched an ad campaign that was perhaps its biggest attempt to reach women yet, featuring athletes like ballerina Misty Copeland, stuntwoman Jessie Graff, and sprinter Natasha Hastings. The hope was to make a bigger splash in the women’s business and shift the perception that Under Armour’s stores are typically more masculine.

CEO Kevin Plank addressed the brand’s struggle to appeal to women during the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting on Wednesday. He said the company is working on improving its apparel offering’s style while still emphasising performance.

“We don’t feel we’ve reached our true potential,” Plank said, according to the Baltimore Sun.

But the company still seems to be falling behind competitors like Lululemon and Athleta, which many female consumers see as being more fashionable.

“The final issue is the masculine nature of the brand, which has made it hard for Under Armour to expand its reach to women,” Neil Saunders, managing director of the retail consulting firm GlobalData Retail, wrote in April. “While store design, marketing, and products remain male-focused, Under Armour will continue to struggle with women. This is a lost opportunity as female sports and fitness remain a fast-growth part of the market.”

We visited an Under Armour store to see why it’s still failing to win over women:


I went to an Under Armour store in New York City’s Financial District on a weekday afternoon. The store was dimly lit and felt very industrial. It was empty besides the two employees working, and music was blasting.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Men’s clothing was on the left, and women’s was displayed on the right.


The mannequins in the men’s section up front had on black t-shirts and shorts with gold accents. Behind them were more neutral-coloured shirts and shorts.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The women’s side had mannequins wearing sports bras and leggings, either in black or neon colours and patterns. Already, I was unimpressed by the lack of variety. The store carried women’s sizes up to XXL, but there were far more smaller sizes in stock and on display.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The men’s clothing selection was pretty straightforward athletic gear, but a lot of the women’s clothing seemed like it was trying to be more stylish, like this $US50 cropped t-shirt. It was being sold as a running shirt but seemed impractical for actually working out in.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Meanwhile, the men’s t-shirts seemed far more practical and were less expensive. This white t-shirt cost $US35.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Menswear was divided into different departments, like golf or basketball …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… but all of the women’s clothing was grouped together in a more generic women’s department. There weren’t obvious divisions for women’s golf or women’s basketball clothing like there was for the men’s clothing.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Even though there was a relatively equal amount of merchandise in the men’s and women’s sections, the lack of attention in the women’s department made menswear feel like the focus of the store.


There was a digital ad display in the store that rotated between images of athletes. The ads throughout the store were inclusive — Under Armour has been more successful in trying to appeal to women in this regard.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The advertisements were prominent and were definitely a step in the right direction.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

While the store featured an equal amount of men’s and women’s clothes and inclusive ads, it seemed like the store was just starting to appeal more to women. It definitely felt more traditionally masculine, and a lot of the women’s merchandise missed the mark.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

In an attempt to be more stylish, a lot of the shirts — like oversized crop tops and baggy windbreakers — ┬ábecame impractical for actually working out in.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

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