Lulu Wants To Know How You FEEL

Good day internet people! It has been quite some time since I last wrote, and part of the reason is that I was out of town, another reason is that I have not felt inspired to write and still another part is that I have been writing more often for academic purposes rather than simple pleasure. In any case, I’m back in town and looking forward to adding my voice to the recent changes in a key part of Lululemon’s marketing strategy.

The Pant Wall

The pant wall is one of Lululemon’s key selling features. During on-boarding (training) educators are thoroughly acquainted with The Wall. Hours are spent training, learning how to educate guests about the different features of the different types of pants, all the while folding and re-folding pair upon pair of Lululemon pants. Sometimes it can get lonely at The Wall…


No, not THAT wall!

Lululemon Pants Wall
Lululemon Pants Wall

That’s better.

So, they’ve updated the infamous pant wall to reflect how their guests want to FEEL. Personally, I think this is a fabulous marketing strategy. Naomi Klein talks about brand dissemination in her book No Logo and in an interview in the 2003 documentary “The Corporation,” she said that

“Branding is not advertising it’s production. And very successful corporations, the corporations of the future do not product products, they produce brand meaning. The dissemination of the idea of themselves is their act of production, and the dissemination of the idea of themselves is an enormously invasive project. So how do you make a brand idea real? Well, a good place to start is by building a 3D manifestation of your brand.”

These ideas remind me of photos I took in China. These photos depict a globe, engraved with several well-known brand logos.

This exists between a subway station and a highly developed financial area.
This work of art exists between an under developed residential area and a highly developed financial area.
This is a picture of the same globe, from a different angle. Whereas in one photo you see a rather old residential building, in this one you can see the brand new tall structures.
This is a picture of the same globe, from a different angle. Whereas in one photo you see a rather old residential building, in this one you can see the brand new tall structures.

While these are 3D depictions of brands, this is not what Naomi was talking about, but this globe represents how strongly people associate with brands. I imagine myself as the artist, considering what progress means, and maybe it means the growth of large companies all over the world, but particularly those that come to developing nations to start operations such as the brands featured on this globe. I originally took both of these photos for the juxtaposition of old China vs. new, but I’m glad they could make it into my blog.

So, Lululemon is attempting to increase its brand penetration by helping its consumer base associate it with positive feelings like ‘feeling hugged.’ While I applaud the effort, (however transparent it seems to me) I remarked a slight discrepancy between the positive feelings I was experiencing after being hugged in their *Special Edition* Laser Dot Wunder Under Crop, and the negative feelings I associated with the not so minor price increases that accompanied this new marketing campaign. Many pants were re-priced and new pants are now more expensive that they would have been had they been released a week prior.

Laser Dot Detail
Laser Dot Detail
Wunder Under Crop *SE Laser Dot
Wunder Under Crop *SE Laser Dot “Hugged” Sensation

In this case, Lululemon is attempting to change the way you choose pants shifting from function (because who cares if you can actually work out in them?), to how they make you feel. Regardless of my skepticism, this marketing campaign probably tested well with the focus groups and was likely designed by a professional marketing firm. It’s a great idea that I hope they’re able to transition across all product lines. This idea is founded in current research on marketing psychology and I think it’s a winner despite my ability to see through it.

So, now that I’ve explained my opinion on the marketing strategy, let’s discuss those pesky price increases. Lululemon is a luxury brand. In order to maintain the illusion of exclusivity they must tread delicately between being so expensive as to evoke hostility and being so cheap as to be replaced by another brand in its competitive ‘luxury athleisure wear’ category. While I am not completely stoked about the price increases, I understand pricing strategy and respect the brand for making an unpopular decision. Those who don’t like the price increase will move on to other products (such as Athleta, whose quality is comparable, yet prices are lower), and those who are brand loyal will stay the course and continue to make their purchases regardless of such increases in price. It’s the boring answer, but I am confident that it represents the reactions of the vast majority of the Lululemon-buying public.

What do you think about the new marketing campaign? What do you think about the prices? How about my analysis? I’d love to hear from you!

In case anyone is interested: I did not buy the *SE Laser Dot Wunder Under crops, they’re pretty, but I already have a pair of Bordeaux Drama WUCs, and did not see what was so *special* about these. 🙂