Sunday, February 8, 2009

Lululemon and customer nakedness

Last week I was shocked to see real customers' pictures in the shop windows of the Lululemon shop close to where I live. When I say real customers I mean people that I know. Apart from a fair and bare amount of their skin, they revealed their dreams too. Over the black and white pictures of their semi-naked bodies all those people had written a concrete personal goal: "I want to become a lawyer by 2016". "I want to be more compasionate"...

Lululemon is a retailer of yoga-inspired athletic apparel. I had the chance to study their business model as part of one of my classes project. They have a powerful mission statement: "Creating components for people to live a longer, healthier, more fun life". Something that sets them apart from other retailers is their strong focus on grass-roots relationships. Their shops try to become rooted in the community they cater to by holding community events and offering free yoga demonstrations and classes. They appoint ambassadors and offer product discounts to athletic instructors.

There is a couple of things that struck me from the "customer nakedness" campaign in the shop windows:
  • Lululemon's brand power and connection with their customers. It takes a whole deal of familiarity and credibility as a brand to convince your customers not only to take off their clothes but also to expose, yes, to publicize, their most personal challenges. This would not happen without an authentic personal, one-on-one relationship between the brand representatives (shop owner, sales associates) and the customers. What a credible and consistent-with-brand-values testimonial campaign.
  • The participants behavior is the reflection of an interesting sociological trend. Obviously there can be a myriad of personal motivations when volunteering for the pictures. My personal take on it: we need to have our own voice and we need everybody to know. We need to feel beautiful and worthy of praise, admiration - or desire -. Part of the popularity of blogging may have to do with this too. Not many brands are able to provide this unique benefit, and this is an open question for my readers: what brands do you think are giving their customers the possibility of feeling different, name it?

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