Under Armour Inc. is targeting the rapidly growing market opportunity presented by women's sportswear products, as it currently derives less than a quarter of its sales from this segment. With women constituting 50% of the population, Chief Executive Stephanie Linnartz believes there is significant room for growth in this area.
The expansion of women's college and professional teams provides Under Armour with more opportunities to sell female sportswear products. A notable example is the University of Nebraska's women's volleyball team, which attracted a record-breaking 90,000-plus fans for a match held earlier this year at the school's football stadium.
Stephanie Linnartz made history as Under Armour's first female CEO, and in her first earnings call, she expressed her determination to aggressively target women as key customers. To achieve this goal, Under Armour is implementing a new strategy that includes a focus on "sportstyle" products – products that blend performance and fashion through finish, fabrics, and trim. Linnartz believes this approach will greatly contribute to the company's success with women.
Additionally, the emphasis on "sportstyle" aligns with Under Armour's objective of increasing its "brand heat" – a term used by Linnartz to describe the company's resonance with customers. She explains that while growing sales is an important indicator, seeing influencers wearing Under Armour apparel and footwear and experiencing genuine admiration is the primary sign of success.
Under Armour is determined to tap into the potential of the women's sportswear market and aims to increase its overall sales from women's products. With their new strategy and focus on "sportstyle" products, Under Armour is positioning itself to successfully engage with female customers and enhance its brand presence.
Linnartz on Building Customer Loyalty
As a seasoned professional with 25 years of experience at Marriott International Inc., Stephanie Linnartz understands the importance of building customer loyalty. During her tenure as the hotel chain's president, she focused on creating deep connections with consumers and fostering brand love. Now, as she transitions to a new role at Under Armour, Linnartz recognizes that the same principles apply.
Gaining New Insights
Before taking on her new position, Linnartz took the time to learn from various sources within Under Armour. She engaged in conversations with employees, retail partners, athletes, and athletic directors to gain different perspectives. Through this process, she also embraced the concept of "reverse mentorship" and sought knowledge from her younger colleagues who were well-versed in the latest digital technologies.
Linnartz believes that some of the most valuable lessons in her career have come from those who were younger or less experienced. By exchanging insights and sharing her own knowledge, she was able to stay updated with the ever-changing digital landscape.
Embracing Professional Risks
According to Linnartz, taking risks is essential for personal and professional growth. While her decision to switch industries was a significant example of a daring move, she highlights that professional risks don't always have to be dramatic. For instance, after completing her MBA, Linnartz initially worked on the finance side at Marriott. However, when a female mentor offered her an opportunity in sales and marketing, she eagerly accepted.
This shift proved to be instrumental in preparing her for the role of CEO. It allowed her to understand how different departments contribute to the overall performance of a company and how to break down silos between them.
Embracing the Upside of Risks
While taking a career leap may seem intimidating, Linnartz emphasizes the need to prioritize the potential upside and opportunities over fear of the downside. By approaching risks with excitement and optimism, individuals can unlock new possibilities and achieve growth.
In conclusion, Stephanie Linnartz's expertise in building customer loyalty translates seamlessly from her previous role at Marriott to her new position at Under Armour. Her willingness to learn from others, embrace professional risks, and focus on the rewards they offer serves as an inspiration to professionals seeking personal and career development.