Company: Lululemon Athletica
Industry: Athletic Apparel for men and woman
Contact: Lesia Dallimore – Brand Experience Manager
Imagine being part of a something more than just a company or more than a community. Being part of a lifestyle is what this one retailer strives to achieve. Ask any Lululemon customer and they will tell you that you aren’t just buying a product of fantastic quality; you’re buying the Lululemon lifestyle.
Lululemon Athletica is a “technical run and yoga clothing” manufacturer and retailer. It was founded in 1998 in Vancouver, British Columbia and sixteen years later it operates 254 stores in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. With such a worldwide foot print Lululemon relies heavily on social media to help inspire, educate and challenge its customers.
How does Lululemon use Social media to build lasting customer relationships?
Lululemon (Lulu) believes in order to move users through your social media funnel; you need to do more than tweet and share. You need to inspire action, encourage healthier lifestyles and create trusted conversation around the online community. When guests enter the stores they are never “sold” to – they are educated. Feedback is encouraged and conversations and relationships are built. The social media experience is an extension of it’s in-store philosophy. Through this social media experience, customers are able to be part of the lifestyle and be connected to the employees even when they aren’t in the store.
One key pillar of Lulu’s customer engagement is Whiteboard. Whiteboard is an online forum to improve customer experience by allowing customers to post and share their feedback. As a whole organization, each store holds internal ideation brainstorming sessions to generate new ideas to improve products and/or customer experience and posts these ideas on the Whiteboard. A full-time Market Community Connector monitors the threads posted and responds to comments. The goal is explore, erase and replace policies or future ideas within the company. Customers are the driving inspiration of Lululemon’s products, so why wouldn’t they gather feedback from their most important business partner – their customers?
Lululemon also has local fitness ambassadors, typically yoga or CrossFit instructors, who represent Lululemon by wearing Lulu merchandise while they teach. In exchange, these ambassadors will give feedback on the products and spread the word about the Lulu product to their students. They provide feedback to the company relating to the merchandise as well as endorsements to their students both in person and online blogs. Lululemon believes customers are more likely to trust a local community member who lives and breathes the sport or activity than a professional athlete being paid to endorse the brand.
Lululemon encourages guests to share everything within the lifestyle
With video playlists on YouTube ranging from Product Education to Community Events, a viewer can interact with the brand, its employees, and featured products making the experience authentic and personal. This week Lululemon released a video dedicated to “Dads words of Wisdom” for Father’s Day. This is an excellent way to engage and connect with customers on a more personal level.
Lululemon utilizes Facebook as a means to generate awareness about contests, upcoming community events and educational blog posts. Each local store has their own page to create conversations and educate fans about the community. Lululemon views Facebook as a “digital kitchen party” where service and product issues are openly discussed and event photos and videos are posted.
The Lululemon Twitter stream is a unique media stream where customers, employees and other followers can share dialogue about what they are doing to get their adrenaline and Zen fix. Tweeting a hard yoga move, paddle boarding in a remote location or hiking a mountain are just a few examples of common tweets. Product education, customer engagement and posts being monitored, but overall it’s and activity sharing platform. Lululemon continues to build a brand through social media by creating a lifestyle.
“All [social media channels] serve different purposes for us…There are different people using them, we have different conversations in each one, so each has its own separate strategy. But we really just try to inspire ‘her’ in all sorts of ways.” Lesia Dallimore
Lulu’s Lessons Learned:
There is no “perfect” social media platform you can focus on. The main goal is to be in the “space” where your customers are and stay.
Being open to customer comments allows you gather information and make their experience better. Being open and receptive to criticism is difficult to do but Lululemon exercises this skill by handling complaints and negative feedback and this can be a huge learning success for the company.
It is key to have full time employees monitoring the platforms when having live forums, blogs, Twitter, Facebook as information is public and news spreads fast. In today’s world, with cell phones, instant messaging and email, people want immediate responses so waiting is not an option. Staying engaged and answering in a timely fashion is vital to social media management.
Keeping your in-store values and social media values consistent is key to customer engagement. Values that are treated the same online as they are in-store, customer feel comfortable sharing and following Lululemon’s lifestyle.
Submitted by: Jordan Mann, University of Waterloo
Author Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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