BRAND WARS LEVERAGING OPEN ENDS TO UNCOVER WHO WILL WIN + WHY
BRAND WARS. We love a good competition. And we believe that a key ingredient in a good competition is a clear winner, no matter how close the battle. So we pinned two industry leaders â€“ Nike and Under Armour â€“ against each other in a good old fashioned head to head, and collected consumer intel on each brand to understand who is the fan favorite and why. Which athletic brand will come out on top in 2015? Read on to find out.
THREE QUESTIONS. TWO LEADERS. ONE WINNER.
BEHIND THE CURTAIN. We reached out to 1,000 consumers to ask three questions about each brand. We used ThoughtPath, our cognitive framework (rooted in three theories of psychology), as our guide to carefully craft questions aimed at cultivating the most insight regarding consumersâ€™ perceptions of, and relationship to, each brand. Once we collected the feedback, we implemented (iM)merge Analytics to cull through the massive amount of data quickly and accurately. From there, our analysts teased apart the nuance in the verbatims to gain a deep understanding of how consumers view and discuss each brand. Let the games begin. 4
THE QUESTIONS: PERCEPTION THEORY How would you describe [Nike/Under Armour] to someone who has never heard of it before? Please give as much detail as possible. IDENTITY THEORY How would you describe the type of person that wears [Nike/Under Armour]? Please give as much detail as possible. EXPERIENCE THEORY How does [Nike/Under Armour] motivate you to live an active life? Please give as much detail as possible.
FIRST GLANCE? TOSS UP. Consumers see Under Armour and Nike in a very similar light. They’re both pricey, well-loved, athletically-minded sports brands. But we didn’t have to ask consumers to know that, so we continued to dig below the surface. With a little effort, a great deal of nuance emerges from consumers’ perceptions of two similar brands, illuminating clear differences in the way that consumers view Nike and Under Armour.
[spoiler alert] ATHLETIC PEOPLE WEAR BOTH. When we asked what type of person wears each brand, at a surface level, the perceptions of each brandâ€™s loyalists are very similar. Consumers use the same broad language to describe both. But, in understanding the relationships between words and flushing out the context with which each word is used, we learned that the same word can mean very different things to consumers â€“ even when discussing two seemingly similar brands. Even when the terms used to describe each brand (in all caps) are identical, the context in which the word is used (below each term) is very different.
WHAT TYPE OF PERSON WEARS [NIKE/UNDER ARMOUR]?
SPORTY Energetic, healthy, fashionable, stylish
ATHLETIC Cool, stylish, conscious, fashionable
ACTIVE Athletic, very, runner
SPORTS Healthy, wealthy, fan, sneakers
FIT Sporty crowd, comfortable, athlete
SPORTY Dudes, sweaty, football, runner
ATHLETIC Tough, strong, attractive
ACTIVE Athlete, outdoorsy, serious
SPORTS Athletically minded, inclined, player
COMFORTABLE Strong, shape, clean
NIKE = ATHLETIC SHOES. When describing Nike as a brand, shoes are top of mind. Boomers, more so than millennials, associate the brand with athletic shoes. But Nike’s athletic shoes aren’t your average shoe – consumers speak to the fact that the comfort of Nike shoes is what gets them out of bed in the morning and ready to hit the streets. It’s the way the brand motivates them most to live an active life, more than even the famed inspirational commercials.
Their shoes are comfortable enough for you to want to go the extra mile. â€“ Female, 45-54
One of the best sneaker brands. Many styles, colors, and types available. â€“ Female, 25-34
EVERYONE NEEDS SNEAKERS. Consumers believe that Nike is a brand for everyone â€“ they mentally leap from the sentiment that Nike is synonymous with athletic shoes to the thought that everyone needs athletic shoes, and therefore reason that everyone could wear Nikes.
CONSUMERS’ THOUGHT PROCESSES: Nike is synonymous with sneakers
Everyone needs sneakers
Everyone could wear Nikes
Everybody – athletes, students, professionals, moms, dads, grandparents, etc. It’s a shoe for everyone! – Female, 35-44
My son would say they have a lot of swag. I say they have something for everyone. – Female, 35-44
NIKE WEARERS ARE LIKE ME. Consumers speak to Nike’s messaging and advertising as enforcers of the “Nike is a brand for everyone” sentiment. Ads feature individuals who consumers relate to and think look similar to themselves. Furthermore, the advertisements’ compelling stories inspire and motivate, regardless of age or athletic ability.
CONSUMERS CAN PICTURE THEMSELVES IN NIKES
“Nike ads show that no matter what you look like, you can succeed at your goals.” – Male, 18-24
“JUST DO IT is the best line ever, I am over 60 and still live by it.” – Female, 65+
TRIPLE THREAT. By digging deeply into who consumers view as Nike-wearers, we found three main points of entry, or three reasons that consumers turn to Nike: practicality, performance, and fashion. From the recreational park-walker, to the elite athlete, to the geek chic ad-exec, Nike covers a multitude of bases.
3 MAIN ENTRY POINTS:
AND NEITHER SNOW, NOR RAIN… When we look at how consumers describe Under Armour, they are quick to point out all of the technical aspects that make Under Armour functional in the most challenging of conditions. Aside from minimal mentions of price and overall quality, consumers use language such as “wicking,” “skin-tight,” “insulating,” and “breathable” to describe the brand. To consumers, Under Armour’s key differentiators are woven into the fabric of their apparel (which is fitting, as the brand’s original product was a moisture-wicking shirt).
CLOTHING IS ALL ABOUT PERFORMANCE. base layer
An active individual who is serious about what they do, and pushes their body to the limits but wants and needs the best active gear available today. â€“Male, 18-24 PERFORMANCE
NO EXCUSES. Athletes find that Under Armour’s most motivating quality is the performance of the gear – if they can’t use their faulty apparel or equipment as a crutch in bad weather, they have no excuse but to brave the elements. With the right equipment, there’s no such thing as bad weather, and this makes them feel unstoppable.
Having equipment to withstand unfavorable weather motivates you to stay active even when Mother Nature doesn’t. – Male, 25-34 Just having the UA symbol on my shirt motivates me. I don’t want to be seen eating a burger and fries. I want to be seen going through a grueling workout or Tough Mudder event! - Male, 35-44
UNIVERSAL APPEAL IS LACKING. But not everyone is an elite athlete – or would even consider logging a few miles in the snow. While Under Armour’s focus on performance pleases athletes, it alienates a large sector of the population that either doesn’t care about elite athletics or cannot relate to this degree of athleticism. When we asked who wears Under Armour, we found that Under Armour wearers are not your average athlete in both athleticism and attitude – consumers used words like “cocky,” “trendy,” and “wealthy.” The super-human athleticism can be off-putting, leading some consumers to be uninspired by the perceived unattainable fitness level.
Athletic, trendy, but unrelatable. – Male, 18-24
Athletic, active, and probably attractive. – Female, 65+
Intense athletes that are probably into American football. – Male, 25-34
NIKE HAS A BIGGER FOOTPRINT. So, by tapping into consumers perceptions of the brands overall, their perceptions of who wears each brand, and their personal experiences with each brand, weâ€™re able to understand that there are three distinct, yet broad reaching, points of entry for Nike, and only one for Under Armour.
WHY BUY NIKE VS. UA?
NIKE WINS OUT. Simply put, more people relate to, and can see themselves in, Nike. The brandâ€™s rich sneaker heritage contributes to the broad appeal, as does their relevant and inspiring messaging. While sneakers are more top of mind for Boomers, its clear that everyone, regardless of generation, is aware of Nike and can imagine themselves donning the swoosh â€“ and they often do.
THE (FEROCIOUS) UNDERDOG. The fact that Under Armour is a threat to Nike is impressive in itself – just nineteen years ago, the brand was a pipe dream in CEO Kevin Plank’s grandmother’s basement. While Under Armour comes in behind Nike, the brand has a great deal of momentum and opportunity. Millennials in particular offer hope of closing the gap: they rave about Under Armour’s comfort, and don’t say the same for Nike. Millennials and elite athletes aside, there are many markets that Under Armour can tap to continue to grow market share. The brand has already successfully kicked off this outreach; they executed a wildly successful and award-winning “I Will What I Want” campaign targeting women in 2014, and recently spent over $600 million purchasing two fitness apps, MyFitnessPal and Endomondo, allowing them to help a diverse group achieve their exercise goals, regardless of fitness level. 28
THE RUNNER UP
(iM)MERGE A SOLUTION THAT COMBINES:
Cutting-edge text analytics…
…with human analysis…
…to derive the context and story behind consumer commentary.
METHODOLOGY. We completed this research using (iM)merge Analytics, a solution that leverages iModerateâ€™s expert analysts and Luminoso, a cutting-edge textanalytics software, to help companies easily and efficiently understand what is going on with their consumers. Weâ€™re able to look at consumer commentary from multiple sources such as social feeds, product reviews, survey verbatims, and call center transcripts, and distill it down into actionable findings. This research was conducted by asking three open-ended questions for each brand of N=1,000 consumers. Questions were crafted using our cognitive framework, ThoughtPath. This content was adapted from a presentation given by Jen Drolet, Managing Partner of iModerate, and Dr. Catherine Havasi, Founder and CEO of Luminoso, at the Quirks Event in Brooklyn, NY in February 2015. 31
THANK YOU www.imoderate.com // (303) 333-7844 // firstname.lastname@example.org
We pinned two industry leaders against each other to determine which brand is more popular among consumers, and why.