Under Armour awareness in Europe is "merely a function of time"

Under Armour awareness in Europe is "merely a function of time"

The latest findings from a survey into consumer awareness of US athletic footwear and apparel brand Under Armour suggests its profile remains low in Europe – but the region presents a "a big opportunity" in the coming years.

The results, from a recent UBS Evidence Lab survey of 3,000 consumers on athletic brand preferences in Europe, are intended to evaluate the company’s progress so far, after it accelerated its international strategy last year.

In Europe, Under Armour has been converting from a distributor model to setting up its own sales offices in key European markets, and has signed a kit sponsorship deal with UK football club Tottenham Hotspur.

But the consumer survey found that just 14% of European consumers had an aided brand awareness of the company – well below 96% for Adidas and 89% for Nike. And just 18% correctly identified the Under Armour logo.

"That said," the analysts say, "we believe momentum is strong among consumers aware of the brand, with 33% of respondents saying their impression of UA has improved over the past year - versus only 24% for Nike and 21% for Adidas."

UBS analysts believe Under Armour’s international brand exposure should increase significantly in the coming years

"Importantly, we believe improving awareness levels in Europe is merely a function of time and UA marketing/investment, considering the top reasons consumers hadn't experienced the UA brand yet were all marketing related," with comments like "Not familiar with brand" or "Haven't seen any ads yet."

The survey also indicates that, like in the US, Under Armour "significantly over-indexes to young millennial customers relative to Nike or Adidas in Europe." Of the European consumers who purchased Under Armour apparel in the last 12 months, 61% are millennials, versus 47% for Nike and 39% for Adidas.

"Our view is that winning with younger consumers supports more sustainable long-term brand growth and offers a higher lifetime customer value as consumers graduate into higher income levels."

The US company is due to report its second quarter results next week.

In April, it recorded its 20th consecutive quarter of 20%-plus revenue growth, with revenues jumping 25% in the first three months of 2015 to $805m. But net income fell 13% to US$12m thanks to costs related to the recent acquisitions of Endomondo and MyFitnessPal.

The results prompted Under Armour to increase its 2015 guidance, predicting revenues of up to $3.78bn and operating income of $400-408m.