Will a strategy built around changing people’s lives transform Lululemon’s business?
Calvin McDonald, Lululemon’s CEO since last August, views the yoga-themed retailer more as an experiential brand than a lifestyle one. But the experiences he plans to deliver will increasingly be as much spiritual as physical.
As part of the effort, the retailer is designing more larger stores that carve out spaces for experiential events, Lululemon said at its Analyst Day last month.
A 25,000-square-foot store set to open in Chicago in July will feature yoga studios, meditation space, healthy juice and food, and areas for community gatherings. By 2023, about 10 percent of Lululemon’s total fleet will be considered “experiential.”
Lululemon also plans to build on the more than 4,000 events it created and hosted in 2018. Some are large-scale, such as the SeaWheeze half-marathon in Vancouver, 10K runs in Edmonton and Toronto, Sweatlife weekend yoga/fitness retreats and 5Ks. Smaller activations include free meditation or yoga classes insides stores, run clubs and other local social events.
The chain plans to further leverage its more than 17,000 active and legacy ambassadors — typically local yoga and fitness instructors — around such events. “We know that consumers want to participate in communities with people who share their passion,” said Mr. McDonald.
The broader vision encourages the embrace of Lululemon’s Sweatlife philosophy of leading a healthy, mindful lifestyle that includes three elements:
- Sweat: Basically, reaching fitness goals;
- Grow: Personal development and “becoming one’s best self” through meditation, restoration and recovery;
- Connect: Creating bonds with others “to build something bigger than we can alone” for a wider community focus.
The Sweatlife vision provides Lululemon with opportunities to expand into personal care, travel, work and other adjacent categories and services that the CEO said are much larger than the sports apparel market.
Mr. McDonald said, “The greater opportunity to Sweatlife is that it is a $3 trillion global marketplace in which Lululemon has an authentic point of view, an authentic voice and an opportunity to continue to lead, continue to innovate into and represent the brand, and provide guests with solutions and experiences in which they’re looking to live their life.”
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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of Lululemon’s Sweatlife? What hurdles do you see facing Lululemon as it seeks to position its brand around this philosophy of living?