Branding at Its Finest—Cult Brand: Lululemon

We have already taken a look at Yeti Coolers and La Croix Sparkling Water, so for the third installment of our cult brand case study series I wanted to dive into the retail world and talk about Lululemon Athletica. The luxury Canadian lifestyle brand opened its doors in 2000, but has had a meteoric rise in establishing themselves as a premier athletic apparel retailer and generating nearly $2 billion in revenue.

Go to any gym or spin class across America, and you will undoubtedly see multiple pairs of the company’s iconic yoga leggings, which retail at $98; quite the steep price tag for something you buy with the intention to sweat in. Nike, one of the company’s key competitors, offers a variety of comparable leggings that retail between a more modest $50-$70. But through a unique guerrilla marketing strategy, Lululemon has been able to compete with the likes of industry giants like Under Armour and Athleta.

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While the brand has undoubtedly received its share of criticism for these prices, people continue to religiously purchase their apparel because they want to be a part of the Lululemon community of like-minded individuals looking to lead healthier, longer lives. Or as the company’s PR director calls them, “Luluheads”—a group so sought after that patrons are willing to fork over hundreds of dollars just to be a part of it.

The brand promotes a distinctly fit, organized and active lifestyle—something they encourage from the moment you walk into the store all the way through the sale. Their eco-friendly reusable bags are all printed with inspiring phrases such as, “Do one thing a day that scares you.” or “This is not your practice life. This is all there is.” Customers aren’t just buying a pair of leggings for $98; they’re buying a new lifestyle.

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Thanks to the cult-like following of Luluheads, the brand has largely been able to rely purely on word-of-mouth advertising. People see their friends wearing new Lululemon workout clothes and hitting the gym more, and suddenly they're encouraged to buy some new gear and join in. On weekends, the stores even offer free fitness classes, further cementing a customer’s “membership.” And how have they been able to achieve this cost-effective form of marketing? Brand Imaging.

According to the Harvard Business Review, 64 percent of consumers cite shared values as the primary reason they have a relationship with a brand. This phenomenon is why the use of social media and content creation is so important—it lets the customers know who you are and gives you the opportunity to establish a connection with them, even if it's just through a touchscreen. Lululemon posts on Instagram on a regular basis, and not just product pitches either, but motivational images encouraging followers to be more active, while also inviting them to share their story by tagging them or using a unique hashtag.

Customer care goes hand-in-hand with brand imaging; consumers want to know what kind of experience they’ll be getting before they even enter your store or office. If you’re struggling with establishing brand identity in your marketplace, visit enrichmybrand.com today to learn what we can do to help change that.