Recently, both Nike and Under Armour announced leadership changes at the top of their organizations that will take effect starting January 2020. Kevin Plank, founder of Under Armour, is stepping down as CEO with COO Patrik Frisk set to assume the position, with Plank remaining as chairman. At Nike, Mark Parker will step aside to be replaced by John Donahoe.
The change at Under Armor is largely driven by the clear need to revitalize the brand, which once was a serious threat to Nike’s market leadership. The quality of products and innovation vaulted the Baltimore based company to a top of mind apparel company competing with both Nike at the top and Addidas. Recent years have not been as fruitful, as the brand has been somewhat stale and competition fierece. A new voice might help breathe life and new ideas into the organization.
Nike is a household name globally. Every blue chip athlete is associated with the brand and its apparel and equipment are seen in every sporting event across the world. The brand is seeking a stronger digital focus, which change in leadership may help spark. The brand will need to connect to new customer groups and seek to avoid dividing consumer bases in advertisements.
Interesting to see changes in leadership for two market leaders in the same industry at the same time. The market for apparel and sports equipment is not receding by any measure. Plenty of room for growth at Nike, Under Armour, and Addidas. Time will tell if Under Armour can shake off the sluggish sales and if Nike can achieve gains in its digital strategy.