For years, Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour, has kept a saying on his whiteboard in the office: “Don’t forget to sell shirts and shoes.” Within the past few years, Under Armour has increasingly participated in the mHealth industry, hoping to build “the biggest connected fitness platform in the world” and outperform other sportswear competitors such as Nike — all with the hope of selling more shirts and shoes.
What is mHealth?
mHealth comprises products and technology specializing in health and wellness. mHealth has been rapidly on the rise within the past few years. It’s easy to spot someone who owns a Fitbit, Apple Watch, Jawbone, or a mobile application to track their dieting or exercise patterns. Although mHealth is young, it is significant: according to the Research and Markets “mHealth and Home Monitoring – 8th edition” report, mHealth will be a $26 billion by the end of 2017.
Multiple factors have contributed to the explosion of mHealth, but the most notable one is a trend among consumers to shift from reactive care to proactive, or preventative care, coupled with an increase in patient engagement. Patients are encouraged to be actively involved in managing their health and making proper decisions.
Case of Under Armour
Under Armour, one of the largest fitness retail brands, recently announced that digital healthcare is now one of its fastest-growing categories — witnessing a 51 percent sales increase in 2016. With the recent acquisition of MyFitnessPal and MapMyFitness, the most widely used apps to monitor diet and exercise activities, Under Armour has shifted to a stronger focus in utilizing the user performance data and translating that data to product development and sales.
Under Armour has a golden opportunity to collect data and analyze user behaviors. According to iMedicalApps, Under Armour recently collaborated with a group of Johns Hopkins physicians for further guidance on their connected health and fitness strategies. These physicians will “provide clinical and research-based guidance in four key pillars of health and wellness — sleep, fitness, activity and nutrition — to inform and empower Under Armour’s connected fitness community.”
The Johns Hopkins partnership was not the only collaboration Under Armour has rolled out recently. Under Armour also spearheaded a campaign with IBM’s Watson Health to offer personalized health coaching efforts within Under Armour’s UA Record app. Under Armour platforms and collaborations allow for brands to connect with consumers in their “moments of sweat” — and in this case, more than 190 million users are currently leveraging the platform powered by Under Armour’s connected health to connect with brands of choice.
Has that effort transferred into more sales of shirts and shoes?
The answer is yes. UA’s footwear sales saw a 61 percent increase within the third quarter to $196 million. Kevin Plank recognizes the role of data within these recent successes, stating that “data is the new oil”.
The rise of digital health within Under Armour represents a trend in omnichannel care. We have seen omnichannel engagement across multiple facets of healthcare, ranging from insurance companies to the largest health systems in the nation. For instance, Eric Borchers, SIM Partners’ Director of Enterprise Sales, discussed in his QuickTake that wearables fit naturally within health systems because they function as an extension of a patient’s body. It’s critical for the big players not just within the mHealth industries but also in the health provider and payer sides to acknowledge health information travels across devices and channels with consumers. That information must be accessible by touching their wrists.