LuluLemon Athletica know their customers and they know them well. They identify their target market saying:
“Our primary target customer is a sophisticated and educated woman who understands the importance of an active, healthy lifestyle. She is increasingly tasked with the dual responsibilities of career and family and is constantly challenged to balance her work, life and health. We believe she pursues exercise to achieve physical fitness and inner peace” (LuluLemon Athletica, 2014: 2).
What’s particularly noteworthy is LuluLemon’s marketing strategy and approach to market research.
I found LuluLemon’s community based marketing approach to be particularly interesting in that they utilise grass roots activities such as in store community notice boards, community events and a strategic sales program to reach their target market. Having never seen an ad for LuluLemon I was naturally curious how the brand had become so successful in Australia so quickly. When I learned of their strategic sales program it became pretty clear. The strategic sales program was designed to create partnerships with carefully selected local health and yoga studio’s to feature LuluLemon’s apparel and yoga equipment.
Part of this strategic sales program involved getting fitness professionals wearing their products in leading fitness studios at discounted prices in return for their feedback and ideas. The Hey LuluLemon website is dedicated to seeking customer feedback on all aspects through polling about store experience, new products styles, colours, launch dates and new ideas. The Hey LuluLemon concept of “from share to shelf” which engages those participating the strategic sales program is a unique approach to market research.
Regular polls on the website seek specific feedback for example on a favourite product – recently there was “the showdown” where five new products were shown and collaborators were asked to vote on their favourite. Polling revealed that the “Savasna Wrap” was the most popular product and a short time later there was further polling to determine which inspirational quote would make it on to the new wrap. Finally, a drop date poll was launched to determine the preferred launch dates for the product – either before the start of winter as it starts to cool down or in later months when winter is well and truly upon us. In other polls, collaborators were asked to indicate their favourite colours for the season and what improvements they’d like to see to existing products – in case you’re wondering, its bigger pockets to accommodate their new iPhone 6! All of this information feeds directly into the LuluLemon R&D team and transpires into the products we see on their shelves.
This online collaboration is key to LuluLemon in determining specifically which products to launch (and which not to launch) as well as when and how to launch them. LuluLemon clearly know their targeted segment of customers and are working very closely with them to develop and place new products. This approach is clearly working with LuluLemon reporting a net revenue compound annual growth rate of 50% year on year between 2004 and 2013 (LuluLemon Athletica, 2014: 1).
What other market research approaches could LuluLemon use to better fulfil the needs of customers in their existing target markets?