Master’s Thesis

Master’s Thesis: The Impact of Global Markets and Sports Marketing on the International Expansion of Under Armour


Northwestern University


Master’s in Sports Administration


Master’s Thesis


Mollye Beth Peters


Main Objectives

There are two main objectives of this study. The first is to provide analysis and understanding of the challenges facing the company in its efforts to grow market share outside of the United States. Secondly, the study seeks to determine the most effective internationalization and sports marketing strategies for a successful global expansion of Under Armour.

Background & Current Issues

Under Armour was founded on the idea of innovation for athlete performance. This simple idea altered the sportswear industry, creating new products and putting Under Armour on the map against top competitors Nike and adidas. While Under Armour has surpassed adidas to become the second biggest sportswear brand in the US, there is still a lot of growth that needs to occur for Under Armour to surpass Nike and adidas on a global basis. Nike and adidas both have strongholds on major international sports, such as soccer and basketball, partially due to their ability to pay for top sports sponsorship opportunities. Compared to Nike and adidas, Under Armour has limited resources and has to think outside of the box to compete on a global scale. With its sales outside of North America accounting for less than ten percent of its total sales, Under Armour has not made as big of an international impact as originally hoped.


All Markets Evaluation Total ScoresThis study examines the external environment in which Under Armour operates and the company’s internal environment to determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats the company faces in expanding internationally. Then, a country selection analysis will be conducted to determine which international markets are best suited for Under Armour’s expansion. Finally, a sports strategy evaluation will determine which sports to target in the company’s key international markets to create brand awareness and increase international sales.

Results & Recommendations

All of the research was then used to conduct a market potential analysis and a sports marketing analysis. The market potential analysis was adapted from Cavusgil’s indexing approach in order to determine in which markets Under Armour should focus its expansion efforts. North American markets were not included because Under Armour’s revenue mostly comes from North America. The sports marketing analysis determined which sports by market Under Armour should focus its marketing. Soccer was not included in the sports analysis because it is the most popular sport in the world and a given for Under Armour to have in its sports marketing strategy. Also, Under Armour’s top competitors, Nike and adidas, are the leaders in soccer, making it difficult for Under Armour to financially compete in the world’s sport. Therefore, Under Armour needs to look at sports outside of soccer in order to have a better chance to gain market share internationally. My research found that the top 5 markets Under Armour should focus its expansion on are:

  1. Germany
  2. France
  3. Australia
  4. United Kingdom
  5. Japan

For the sports marketing analysis, I focused on the markets that scored over 12 points in the market potential evaluation. Master's Thesis: The Impact of Global Markets and Sports Marketing on the International Expansion of Under ArmourThe results showed that each country had primary sports and secondary sports that span all four countries and that relate to Under Armour’s current product lines and sports marketing efforts. Tennis is the only sport that was a primary sport in all four countries. Under Armour should begin its expansion efforts by focusing its sports marketing efforts on in each country on the primary sports. For example, in Toulouse, France, rugby is the main sport. Under Armour should attempt to become a sponsor of Stade Toulousain, the Toulouse rugby club.

If you would like a copy of my full master’s thesis, please contact me to receive a PDF download.



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