Created in 1998, Lululemon Athletica (or simply Lululemon) is a canadien brand specialized in technical yoga and run apparel. Lululemon products are famous for their confort and performance even in extensive yoga stretching positions, as well as their style and elegance.
Lululemon provides men with confortable and performance outfits too (see “core ABC pants” technology). The brand has recently open a store only dedicated to men in New York City which may indicates that the men category is a solid new driver of growth.
The high-end market positioning as well as deep ties to the local community has helped Lululemon 400 stores to reach $2bn turnover and a impressive 15% growth rate last year.
LULULEMON STRATEGIC ELEMENTS OF SUCCESS
1. It doesn’t do formal market research or customer relationship management.
Instead the CEO and key managers spend hours each week in Lulu stores observing how customers shop, listening to their complaints, and then using the feedback to tweak product and stores.
It also trains its employees to be customer advocates. Salespeople eavesdrop on customers as they fold clothes near the fitting rooms, so they can overhear complaints and pass them along. And, customers themselves are invited to give input to the company by writing suggestions on a chalkboard that are sent back to headquarters.
2. It uses scarcity instead of discounts to generate demand.
“The goal is to sell gear at full price and to condition customers to buy when they see an item rather than wait. ‘Our guest knows that there’s a limited supply, and it creates these fanatical shoppers,’ says Ms. Day.”
Lululemon has trained its customers to “buy now” instead of waiting for promotions or looking for redlines.
3. It doesn’t offer top-notch customer service.
The piece quotes CEO Day as saying, “We aren’t Nordstrom. We aren’t your personal shopper.” Lululemon’s return policy is “very strict,” according to the WSJ: no products accepted after 14 days, and all must be unwashed and unworn, with original tags.
4. It designs user-friendly and community-rooted stores
- Each store features a community wall where customers are informed about the events to be set-up in the week.
- The fitting rooms are large and comfortable.
- Complimentary events are set-up on a regular basis (Yoga classes, self-defense workshops…).
6 . Lululemon Lab, a step further to connect to the brand community
In New York City, Lululemon has recently opened ‘Lululemon Lab”.
The shop serves as both a retail space and a design incubator, featuring limited-edition pieces that are created right there within the space. The very first Lab store launched in the brand’s hometown of Vancouver in 2009 and now, the lab has finally arrived to the U.S. (bonus for us athleisure fanatics).