Lululemon takes experiential retailing to 20,000 square feet

Discussion
Photo: Lululemon
Jul 15, 2019

Lululemon last week opened its largest store in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. The 20,000-square-foot location features two floors of retail, three studios and its first-ever restaurant.

The ground floor is devoted to its range of women’s tops, bottoms and bras, as well as its recently launched personal care line. The floor also celebrates Chicago, with a section featuring a rotating cast of local retailers.

Lululemon takes experiential retailing to 20,000 square feet
Lululemon Lincoln Park, meditation studio – Photo: Lululemon

The second floor features Lululemon’s largest selection of men’s merchandise in any of its locations, two workout studios — one for yoga and another for high-intensity workouts — and a third studio for meditation. Classes cost $25 each. For the first time, Lululemon will allow guests to wear and test complementary gear during workout classes. Lululemon’s 45-strong local ambassador network in the Chicago area helped develop the concept and will lead the 40 to 50 classes a week.

The second floor also features a restaurant, “Fuel,” with a menu that ranges from healthy (acai bowls, smoothies, salads, protein boxes) to beefy (an 8-ounce burger), boozy (draft beers) and decadent (chocolate-covered bacon).

Maureen Erickson, Lululemon’s VP of experiential retail, told Eater the versatile menu reflects the belief that the company and its fans don’t take themselves too seriously. She added, “It’s also for people like me who like to work out so I can eat a good cheeseburger.”

Lululemon takes experiential retailing to 20,000 square feet
Lululemon Lincoln Park, restaurant – Photo: Lululemon

Special events, movie screenings, concerts and special yoga classes are planned. Ambassadors and guests will further have access to personal development workshops, flexible open concept workstations and lounges to inspire connection.

The new store, considered a test, is aimed at being the physical manifestation of Lululemon’s “Sweatlife” philosophy, bringing “Sweat, Grow and Connect” to guests and celebrating the local Lincoln Park community. 

Celeste Burgoyne, EVP of Americas and global guest innovation, told Well + Good, “We are focused on the whole human, so that comes to life in our Sweat series, in mindfulness through meditation and in community opportunities that keep our guest engaged.”

Lululemon has predicted that by 2023, about 10 percent of its fleet will be “experiential” like the Chicago store. 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does Lululemon’s new Chicago flagship appear to bring the brand’s experience and philosophy to life? What aspects seem bold versus trite or overdone?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"I love the idea of some chocolate covered bacon after yoga. Lulu’s keeping it real. "
"Lululemon’s flagship will definitely shake the Lincoln Park norm in the beginning."
"I like this. An environment where you can use a company’s products in the environment and conditions you would after purchase."

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11 Comments on "Lululemon takes experiential retailing to 20,000 square feet"


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Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

Too often retailers strive to create experiences that seem forced or even inconsistent with their brand – not Lululemon. The new flagship in Chicago is not only completely consistent and complimentary to the Lululemon brand, but it extends the brand even further. This is what a flagship experience should be about. All the elements of the new flagship described in the article appear to have some merit – ultimately, Lululemon customers and supporters will decide which specific offerings and features are most desired. I have no doubt management will be watching very closely and make the necessary adjustments as the flagship strategy evolves.

Dave Wendland
BrainTrust

Experiential retail excellence in motion. Congratulations to Lululemon for “getting it.” I agree with Mark Ryski; too many force experience that becomes incongruent with the brand … such is not the case with this Chicago flagship store.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

I’m sort of reminded of the Marshall Field “Give the lady what she wants” story about adding luncheon to the shopping experience or IKEA’s cafe that invites hungry shoppers to park their carts and dig into plates of Swedish meatballs before finishing their shopping.

Lululemon has created a destination store where customers can come to shop and spend the day. Or come for lunch or a class and maybe do some shopping while they are there. This makes perfect sense, especially in Chicago’s Lincoln Park community.

Anne Howe
Guest

I love the idea of some chocolate covered bacon after yoga. Lulu’s keeping it real. The trial option for their clothes takes the sting out of higher than normal price points too. Definitely want to check it out!

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

With an army of loyal fans, there is a great opportunity for Lululemon to offer experiences and services. These things must be done in a way that complements the brand and, in the case of the new Chicago store, this appears to have been well executed. Classes are an obvious one as most of Lululemon’s customers buy their products to use, usually for yoga practice. Ten restaurant is also relevant as it connects with the wellness theme on which Lululemon has been focused.

The company clearly isn’t going to build this concept in every location – not at this scale. But it is a great template for what good retailing should look like.

David Naumann
BrainTrust
David Naumann
Marketing Strategy Lead - Retail, Travel & Distribution, Verizon
2 years 3 months ago

Lululemon has been very successful in creating a brand personality that inspires loyal followers/fans. The new Chicago flagship store reinforces their brand image and personality. Everything was carefully planned in a way that embodies the spirit of Lululemon.

Consumers have embraced the concept of experiential stores across other brands and Lululemon is a perfect brand to follow suit. Another smart move by Lululemon.

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

I see nothing but goodness in this flagship, with one caveat — doing food service right is hard! As discussed extensively in a RetailWire post last week, running a restaurant is very different than running a store, and bad restaurant experiences tend to be far more lasting than bad retail purchases. If Lululemon can execute effectively, I see this as a fantastic strategy.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust
Ricardo Belmar
Retail Transformation Thought Leader, Advisor, & Strategist
2 years 3 months ago

Lululemon gets an “A” for effort, design, and concept for their new flagship – let’s see what it does to sales in that location as a great test of the experiential concept! This new store format sounds like a great ultimate expression of the brand, analogous to Starbucks’ Reserve Roastery concept, and truly representative of the feeling and attitude Lululemon embodies to their fans and loyal customers. The combination of food, merchandise, and classes fits well with how the brand promotes itself, and the fact that they are lighthearted enough to not take themselves too seriously by offering fun foods in the restaurant is a nod to the industry that sometimes experiential can go too far if left unchecked!

Oliver Guy
BrainTrust

I like this. An environment where you can use a company’s products in the environment and conditions you would after purchase. Few companies do this – arguably Apple pioneered it with equipment actually out and connected to Wi-Fi so you can use it as if it were at home. Car retailers let you have a car for a maximum 48 hours – and that is a rarity. Not really enough time to do all the checks you really need to. I love the whole philosophy and approach of living the brand values.

Cynthia Holcomb
BrainTrust

Most neighborhoods have small workout studios with a loyal following. Lululemon’s flagship will definitely shake the Lincoln Park norm in the beginning. Replacing the norm, however, including the personal relationships tied to many gyms and workout facilities, the Lululemon experience will need to be exceptional over the long haul.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

This initiative is totally in keeping with the Lululemon brand promise. Lululemon offers the “what” and teaches the “how.” And as they expand into wellness, they will be teaching the “why.” Not every brand has those kinds of levels to their brand promise, but Lululemon is certainly capitalizing on the opportunities in from of them.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"I love the idea of some chocolate covered bacon after yoga. Lulu’s keeping it real. "
"Lululemon’s flagship will definitely shake the Lincoln Park norm in the beginning."
"I like this. An environment where you can use a company’s products in the environment and conditions you would after purchase."

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