Bernard Marr, a big data and analytics journalist, wrote an article about the competition between Nike and Under Armour and the reason that UA can make moves to overtake Nike, called “How Nike and Under Armour Became Big Data Businesses.” Marr speaks about how the ways in which Nike and UA compete are changing and both are capitalizing by turning their brands into lifestyle brands for athletes by investing in apps, wearables, and using big data.
I think it is a fun time to be in the athletic apparel industry because these days, there is so much to expand into. Before, the athletic apparel industry was strictly clothing and shoes, but now it is getting into technology and apps which is expanding the industry outside of the ordinary realms it used to fall in. Both companies are not afraid to be innovative and take risks. Nike has displayed this when they took a chance on a new marketing approach based on sports interests instead of geography (category offense) and with their plans to digitally connect NBA fans to the action and the players on the court using big data. Under Armour has shown this when they acquired three fitness apps to gain the users and all of the user’s collected data and their new HealthBox, a full suite of activity and nutritional tracking.
Big data is showing to be invaluable to this industry. I would take on UA’s bet that big data is going to be the thing that allows them to overtake Nike as the leader in the industry. They alone invested $710 million to acquire the three fitness app companies I mentioned in the previous paragraph and I do believe that making these moves now, will set them up for success in the future. UA is showing that they can and will do what it takes to compete and win. By focusing on big data, they are moving towards the future of the athletic industry. To plan for the future of the industry is necessary to be a leader and competitor. Anticipating what people want before they even know it is also a key factor. Knowing that big data can go beyond just wearable technology, and lead to such things as apparel with sensors that does everything a wearable can do and more, already puts a company in the industry ahead of the curve. True success though, lies in whether or not the firm has the ability to connect its data to its innovations lab and to the product it sells for their investment to pay off.
I am excited to see the positions that both these companies are in in the future. It will be interesting to see if Nike begins to slow down in terms of innovation and UA does in fact pass them as number one in the athletic industry. I see a bright future for this industry and big data. The big data aspect certainty provides growth and opportunity for these firms.