Lululemon’s brand is in trouble.
We knew that things weren’t going well when they recalled 17% of their women’s yoga pants last year because they were too sheer.
We knew that there was going to be some sort of push back when founder Chip Wilson opined, “Quite frankly, some women’s bodies just actually don’t work for it. It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there.” when asked about the pants problem.
And now sales numbers and stock prices are proving that Lululemon is trending downwards. A direction that no brand wants to go in. Especially one that has found itself at the top of their industry and constantly in the spotlight.
The Lululemon brand was built on the backs of ambassadors, fans, happy customers, employees, and the rest of their brand community. And when things started to go south in 2013 some of that community took a step back and started to wonder if this was a brand that they wanted to be advocating for so strongly and loudly.
Without that strong brand community to prop them up, Lululemon is really just an expensive yoga wear shop. Yes, they are Canadian, and that gives some people a warm fuzzy feeling when they purchase their products. But as share prices drop (below $49 at time of this post) as low as they have been in the last 2 years, the image of the brand is no longer just a point of conversation. It is a point of concern in the boardroom.
Ideas for Lululemon to reestablish their brand
◦ A body positive campaign and focus on being inclusive: Let’s be honest, Wilson’s comments were really stupid from a PR perspective. A Dove-like campaign celebrating all body types, with Lululemon clothing to go with it, could finally start to undo his stupidity.
◦ More free yoga:
Yoga has become one of (if not) the most popular fitness trend in the western world. Women (and men) are always asking where they should take a class, and Lululemon currently offers some free classes, but could do more and hope to get back in their community’s good graces.
◦ Sales, promotions and contesting:
At some point people will start buying Lululemon products again if the price point works for them. And while lowering prices across the board is a bad idea for two reasons: 1) The stockholders want to see higher profits on a longterm basis. 2) Dropping prices on premium products is seen as a sign that it is no longer a premium brand. Promotional campaigns to entice buyers is a good way to get them back in the store and activated in the brand community. Loyalty discounts and exclusive offers to online subscribers are also ideas that could recapture Lululemon’s original brand community.
◦ Apologize, Apologize, Apologize:
In some way, shape or form Lululemon needs to tell their brand community (current, former and future) that they are sorry for the mistakes they have made and they will be doing everything that they can to make sure that nothing like this will ever happen again.
Lululemon’s Mission Statement reads, “Creating components for people to live long, healthy and fun lives.” and their Manifesto is this poster. That used to be all they needed.
Bringing the Lululemon brand back to where it once was is going to be a long term process, and with many competitors fighting for market share (and offering lower prices) it is entirely possible that they will never regain the hold that they once had on the yoga loving community.
Right now the best thing that they can do is realize that they have to make changes ASAP or risk being left behind like a sweaty, smelly mat.