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Under Armour: Taking on the Goliaths

Rita J. Shea-Van Fossen (Ramapo College of New Jersey)

The CASE Journal

ISSN: 1544-9106

Publication date: 1 May 2011


This case traces Under Armour from its founding in 1996 through 2008 when the company entered the hyper-competitive non-cleated athletic footwear market. In 1996, with an innovative product and locker room access to college and pro players, Kevin Plank started Under Armour. He turned a struggling t-shirt company into a dominant player capturing 75% of the performance apparel market. In 2006, Under Armour successfully entered the athletic footwear market with a line of football cleats. Under Armour was the first company to disrupt Nike's dominance of the football cleat market by gaining 25% of the market within a year of introduction. In 2008, Under Armour entered the non-cleated athletic footwear market with a cross-trainer sneaker line and a $4.4 million Super Bowl ad. Unlike prior introductions, Nike responded aggressively to Under Armour's move into sneakers. Despite increased sales, Under Armour's costs increased, and profits and stock price decreased. The case concludes by asking students to evaluate Under Armour's next move. An extensive exhibit provides an overview of the athletic footwear industry in 2008.


Shea-Van Fossen, R.J. (2011), "Under Armour: Taking on the Goliaths", The CASE Journal, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 178-197.



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