While many brands compete in the yoga and fitness apparel space, Lululemon has positioned itself as an industry leader by building community around its brand. The apparel company has cultivated a loyal following, connecting consumers with the tools and experiences they need to be their best selves.
Since its beginnings in Vancouver, Lululemon focused its branding on the yoga community. Unlike other companies that sponsor pop icons or sports stars to promote the brand, Lululemon collaborates with local yoga teachers and fitness professionals to represent their brand. Lululemon utilizes its storefronts to host yoga classes, meditations and other related events.
“It’s so much more than apparel, it’s about people,” former CEO Laurent Potdevin said. “It’s an investment in people, giving them their best life, personal development and creating incredible product that allows them to live their life.”
Lululemon’s commitment to building community around yoga, fitness and wellness offers valuable lessons for brands seeking to expand and strengthen their networks.
Here are key lessons from Lululemon on how to build a community around your brand
- Lead a movement:
Brands that position themselves as essential members of a cultural movement foster emotional connections with consumers. This is especially important in today’s fast paced business environment where the majority of consumers wouldn’t care if 74 percent of brands disappeared. Lululemon is redefining what yoga means with its “This is yoga” campaign. The brand is declaring that yoga today has transformed beyond the mat into everyday life. The campaign showcased influencers such as artists, musicians and entrepreneurs embodying the principles of yoga in their lives.
Essentially, you should strive to define a movement that your customers can stand behind. Be a mission with a company, not a company with a mission, as we say at We First. By connecting people with what they love, you make your brand indispensable.
- Marry product with purpose:
Lululemon has designed products with the goal to advance a movement, stand out from the competition and help brands build consumer loyalty. Lululemon’s clothing is crafted to empower people to be comfortable while moving their bodies in yoga and while doing fitness training. The company has earned a reputation as the go-to yoga pant that many people swear by. Further, innovative product launches such as the Nulu fabric, which is designed to give the feeling of freedom of being naked, help the brands customers live their best yoga everywhere they go.
Ultimately, you must design products that enable your target audience to be better versions of themselves. In this way your products will have a purpose that goes beyond creating a quality good.
- Inspire self-expression:
Your customers not only support your business financially, they can also be valuable content creators. With the widespread use of social media, consumers want to shape the culture and narrative of brands they support. What’s more, user-generated content (UGC) is likely to ring more true to consumers than brand or agency produced media. In fact, UGC garners an average of “4 times more clicks at half the cost per click; is 20 percent more influential on Millennial buying habits; is 35 percent more unforgettable and 50 percent more trustworthy for Millennials. Lululemon’s #TheSweatLife is a great example of how a brand can inspire consumers to build its network. This hashtag has been used over 800,000 times on Instagram, providing consumers with a platform to share their triumphs on the mat and in the gym.
Ultimately, companies that celebrate consumers build community around their brand and inspire people to express themselves as part of the brand network. In turn, this expands the organic reach of marketing initiatives and builds consumer trust.
- Collaborate with local leaders IRL:
While connecting with consumers online is essential in today’s digital world, so is uniting community in real life (IRL). An excellent way to build community around your brand IRL is to host events in collaboration with local leaders. Lululemon’s ambassador program is a prime example of how brands can build a network on and offline. The apparel brand helps those interested in yoga and fitness to meet their goals while also promoting the brand through Lululemon hosted events. This is a win-win-win for the brand, ambassadors and consumers, all of whom are working towards the goal of personal growth. Lululemon also hosts and sponsors events like the Sweat Life Festival, a two day extravaganza of yoga fitness, wellness workshops and interactives. These IRL experiences deepen the ties between the brand and consumers, leading to business success.
Ultimately, to grow a community around your brand you must connect with consumers on a people to people level. Hosting events and collaborating with influencers in your space both on and offline is a great way to strengthen your network.
Create useful content:
While product shoots and models can showcase your wears, useful content will have consumers coming back to your site time and time again. Its important to establish your reputation as an expert while providing people with content they want to consume. This will allow you to inspire consumers to associate your brand with your movement. For example, Lululemon produces instructional meditation, yoga and fitness collaborations on Youtube, Spotify and iTunes. This is instrumental in helping consumers advance their practice.
Fundamentally, your promotional content should provide real value to consumers rather than sell your products. When people see your brand as a go-to resource for information in your niche, they will naturally buy from you.
The takeaway is that building a community around your brand is about connecting with people. Be the chief celebrant, not celebrity, of your network. Celebrate the successes and facilitate growth of your customers and ambassadors on and offline. This will allow you to create a more “real” human touch to your brand. In turn, you will cultivate consumer trust and establish yourself as a leading authority to your target audience.