Updated 1/2/2020 | Why is lululemon expensive?
At a yoga class, founder Chip Wilson noticed that the women around him wore ill-fitting cotton clothing that was not conducive to a yoga practice at all. Wilson took his experience in the apparel industry and created lululemon in 1998 to outfit women in high-performance fabrics that would actually improve your yoga practice and experience.
Initially, lululemon sold clothes directly to yoga instructors and practitioners. Designs were adjusted based on consunmer feedback. In November 2000, the company had opened its first retail store in Vancouver and became an overnight success.
20 years later, the company is now approaching 400 stores worldwide and is even publicly traded (LULU).
Factors that Make lululemon Expensive
Here are the top reasons why lululemon apparel is expensive.
#1 Proprietary Fabrics
lululemon creates its own proprietary fabrics. This means that their fabrics are constructed specifically for their brand.
Their patented fabrics are often high performance with features that anyone would want in versatile activewear.
Their Align Pants are made from Nulu, a buttery soft fabric that offers a naked feel. Fast & Free Tights are made with Nulux, a highly durable and moisture-wicking fabric that is made for high-impact activities.
The fabric that shot the brand into notoriety is their Luon fabric. Luon is a nylon and lycra blended fabric that their popular styles such as Wunder Under Pants and Define Jackets are constructed from.
Related: lululemon Fabric Guide [CHEATSHEET]
#2 Cult-like Brand Recognition
lululemon has created a cult-like community comprised of consumers, brand ambassadors, and a strong and supportive employee culture.
lululemon approaches its retail business with aspirational philosophy and personal development. The company offers benefits to both employees and consumers that promote a culture of personal growth, self-empowerment, and physical health.
Consumers are invited to community and nationwide events that bring together the community and those who love lululemon.
Employees are referred to as Educators. Applicants are required to submit goal sheets along with resumes. Their interview process is also done in a round table style and allows potential applicants to bond with one another.
Their fitness instructor discount program is called Sweat Collective and embodies a community of fitness professionals who are passionate about lululemon and wellbeing. Sweat Collective members are given a generous discount to wear lululemon apparel while teaching and leading fitness programs.
lululemon’s manifesto clearly communicates all these values that resonate with those who want to lead healthy and happy lives.
#4 lululemon Keeps Discounting to a Minimum
lululemon recognizes that discounting can be a detriment to their brand image. Earlier in lululemon’s timeline, they rarely offered discounts.
The lack of discounts combined with their scarcity retail model, allowed lululemon to keep their prices high and products highly coveted. Consumers were willing to pay premium prices for lululemon apparel.
Nowadays, you’ll see lululemon offering discounts through their We Made Too Much (WMTM) sales section, at online and in-person warehouse sales, outlets and even during special shopping events such as their Black Friday and Boxing Day sales.
You’ll find less popular color, patterns and styles offered at reduced prices.
#5 lululemon Keeps Their Apparel Exclusive
lululemon purchased directly from lululemon.com is always authentic. lululemon purposely chooses to make their line exclusive to prevent their products from being sold on clearance racks in department stores or in the off-price channel.
You can sometimes find lululemon apparel in yoga or fitness studios. The selection will often be slimmer and curated for the specific studio. Some studios may also screenprint logos onto the lululemon apparel they offer, such as SoulCycle or Barry’s Bootcamp.
If you see an online retailer selling discounted lululemon, you should be wary of the authenticity of their products. This includes products sold on reselling websites such as Mercari, Poshmark and eBay.
#6 lululemon Operates on a Scarcity Model
As we mentioned before, lululemon operates on a scarcity model. This means they release a limited quantity of product with each upload. An upload is when lululemon releases new or restocked merchandise on their website or in-store.
lululemon does this to testing product performance to see how quickly they sell. If an item is popular and sells out quickly, lululemon may produce more of that same product or release variants of the same silhouette.
#7 lululemon Lab Experiments
Initially, the lululemon Lab was a place where in-house designers could create and test products before mass producing them for retail sale.
Their lab line may often contain experimental releases and high-performance fabrics not typically used in their regular activewear line. This also causes lululemon Lab products to be significantly more expensive than their regular line.
#8 “Power of Three” Strategy for Growth
lululemon is strategic about their bottom line. As part of their culture, lululemon is always creating goals and benchmarks individually and as an organization.
Their Power of Three strategy includes growth in three areas for 2020:
- Product innovation
- Double the size of its men’s revenues by 2023.
- Continue expansion in the women’s and accessories businesses.
- Plan to grow existing and new lines supporting yoga, running and training.
- Continue its product collaborations.
- Expand its popular Office/Travel/Commute category
- Pursue new opportunities, such as selfcare.
- Omni guest experiences
- Double its digital revenues by 2023.
- Offer an integrated guest experience across channels which are intended to inspire, provoke and celebrate guests who live a healthy and mindful lifestyle across experiences such as events, dynamic new store formats, and its innovative membership program that fosters connections among guests.
- Market expansion
- Quadruple its international revenues by 2023.
- Expanding across China, as well as the APAC and EMEA regions.
Read more about the Power of Three strategy.
Is Buying lululemon Worth It?
Personally, we love wearing lululemon because of their timeless styles and proprietary fabrics. They’re definitely invested in product performance and outfitting men and women to be their best.
All these factors combined are the biggest reasons why consumers are willing to pay premium prices for lululemon. Whatever they’re doing, it is working and we wish them continued success in 2020!
Related: Where to Buy and Sell lululemon
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