High-end fitness brand lululemon has been described as developing a “cult-like” following over the years.
But how did it achieve such a massive fanbase?
Today we will take a deep dive into lululemon’s marketing strategy by looking at the company’s history, website and social media to find out exactly how this company went from a small yoga studio to over 500 stores worldwide in 2021.
In this article we’ll be covering:
- The History of lululemon
- lululemon’s Social Media Strategy
- lululemon’s Website and SEO
- Key Learnings and Takeaways
History of lululemon
To understand the lululemon marketing strategy, we should first take a look at its history.
In a previous blog, we covered how BrewDog made some controversial headlines that looked to be parts of a tactical marketing strategy and helped their brand.
lululemon similarly has made a few controversial headlines, but as they don’t have much to do with the marketing strategy, they won’t be covered here. (There’s a link for any curious folk.)
Known fully as “lululemon Athletica“, the brand was founded in Vancouver, Canada in 1998, with the goal of not only being a fitness wear brand but also a community where people could learn and discuss fitness, mindfulness and healthy living.
lululemon’s first store opened in 2000 and was a design studio in the daytime and a yoga studio at night, creating a physical community hub for their fans and customers.
Image via lululemon.co.uk
Its first product range was yoga wear for women but over the years it’s grown to accommodate running, cycling and general fitness training.
lululemon’s founder, Chip Wilson, already had 20 years in the surfing, skateboard and snowboard business, but after trying yoga for the first time he realised there was a gap in the market for luxury yoga gear.
lululemon is known for high-quality fitness gear and set itself up well from the start by asking the yoga instructors at the company’s studio to test out the clothes and give feedback.
With stores around the world, lululemon now sits as one of the top luxury fitness brands globally. But how did it get there?
Let’s take a look.
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lululemon’s Social Media Strategy
It’s rare for companies not to have social media accounts these days. It’s a great way to connect with existing and potential customers in a more human way, depending on how you use it.
It’s social media, after all.
lululemon’s marketing strategy includes a lot of social media content across many platforms, with the main account and regional offshoots. We’ll be focusing on their main accounts in this section of the article.
lululemon’s biggest audience is on Instagram, with 3.8 million followers. According to Social Blade, it has an average engagement rate of 0.30%, with the average in the industry being 2.56%, so they could certainly improve there.
It is important to note that the larger the account, the lower the engagement rate, so it’s unlikely the company could hit the industry average because of their huge following.
That said, competitor Gymshark has 5.5m followers and an engagement rate of 0.77%, so lululemon doesn’t really have an excuse.
The content on lululemon’s Instagram page covers all bases. They have professionally shot imagery alongside user-generated content and they are making use of all Instagram’s features, including the all-important Reels.
Judging by the jumps in engagement on the posts, it’s likely lululemon has been putting money behind some posts that have performed well or that are speaking about a new product launch or a campaign.
Going back to the user-generated content, lululemon has given itself a great foundation to work from by encouraging customers to use #thesweatlife in their posts about lululemon. By doing this, customers feel part of a community, the ‘Sweat Life’ community, and will want to share photos with others in said community.
There are currently over 1.4 million Instagram posts using #thesweatlife, and not all the accounts posting wear lululemon gear, so the hashtag has taken on a life of its own.
In 2021 lululemon only posted to its Facebook around once per month. This is probably because every time it posts to Facebook, it gets an influx of comments from angry customers.
Nearly all the comments on Facebook are negative, which is a big change to Instagram where most of the comments are positive, with a few negative, which is expected of any brand.
The comments are mostly disgruntled customers, with a few spam comments in there too. It seems like lululemon has answered some of the comments but not all, and often the spam comments are left without being deleted.
It’s not a good look for the company at all.
If potential customers visit the Facebook page to take a look at products or reviews, they’re more than likely to come across these negative comments and it could put them off purchasing altogether.
Despite the lack of posts and general negative sentiment in the comments, lululemon actually has 2.7m followers on Facebook but posts only receive around 0.01% engagement, whereas the industry standard is 0.10%. This could well be because the post frequency is too low, once a month just isn’t enough to get the posts regularly pushed to fans.
lululemon’s Twitter seems to be used mostly for motivational quotes. It’s nice to see the company using the platform in a different way to the rest of the lululemon social media accounts.
The account has nearly 990,000 followers, and an engagement rate of 0.04%, which is close to the industry average of 0.05%. This could be increased by adding more visual content alongside the motivational quotes, but not too much as the formula the account has now does appear to be working well when it comes to engagement.
Every moment is an opportunity to begin again. See you at the starting line.
— lululemon (@lululemon) December 13, 2021
But…there are negative comments here too. Lots of comments about missing orders, healthcare discounts being taken away and other complaints. There are more positive comments here than on Facebook, but the negative sentiment is still very loud.
Lululemon’s TikTok account is performing fairly well and it looks like it’s making the most of the platform.
The company is repurposing user-generated content and doing a good job of jumping on trends that are related to the brand, and the content feels a lot more playful than the Instagram content. This could be because lululemon is trying to appeal to the younger audience on TikTok – a whole new generation of lululemon customers.
@lululemon Just in time for Halloween… 🙃 #lululemon #halloween2021 #halloweencostumes ♬ Original sound – witch fingers
@lululemon Catch us on the runway. #whattowear #firstdayofschool #lululemon #backtoschool ♬ original sound – daniel willson ‼️
There are still negative comments here, but they are less about issues with orders and more to do with them removing discounts for some healthcare workers, and the community is making their opinion known!
Overall, lululemon has a good presence on social media and creates good content, but it’s the complaints that are letting the company down.
Although these complaints are unlikely to be the fault of whoever is managing the company’s social media, lululemon needs to ensure that these complaints are being responded to, to show that the company cares about its customers.
Realistically though, if people are taking to social media to complain, they have probably tried other avenues and felt like they haven’t gotten anywhere with their complaints, so are taking to social media to complain. This is an issue with the wider company, not the social media accounts themselves.
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lululemon’s Website and SEO
For this part of the article, we’ll be focusing on lululemon’s UK website.
lululemon’s homepage is fairly standard, and surprisingly normal for the time of writing – one week before Christmas and there’s no festive cheer in sight- although they have added a ‘Gift Ideas’ section to their menu.
Here it’s important to question the use of space on the “above the fold” section of their site, and if they’re making the most of it.
They’ve opted to go for two menus, one along the top and one down the left side which don’t deviate massively from one another. The calls to action, “Shop Women’s What’s New” and “Shop Men’s What’s New” (try saying that five times fast) are also just repetitions of the left side menu.
The recommendation here would be to remove the left side menu to add more space for the images, as they sell a physical product and images are important.
It would also be great to see a benefits bar on their site – the clothes are expensive but there’s no clear reason from the above the fold section why someone landing on this page should buy from them over a competitor.
It’s difficult to find creative CTA’s when it comes to eCommerce, but here it probably would be better to put the bestsellers front and centre here as that is a great place for new customers to start, rather than new products.
lululemon also has a newsletter sign up…but for a company priding itself on community and education, the call to action really doesn’t reflect these elements at all.
“Be the first to know” seems to point only towards new products and following it up with, “Get lululemon emails direct to your inbox” seems redundant.
If you’re signing up to an email list, you’d expect said emails to go directly into your inbox, rather than being sent somewhere else or via carrier pigeon.
lululemon could really push the community and education side of its business here, with a CTA such as “Join our Community” or “Start your health and wellness journey” followed up by “Join our community of like-minded people”.
That’s far more enticing to someone at the top of the lululemon sales funnel who is still researching their purchase. Using a mailing list to nurture them at this stage is ideal, rather than asking them right away to stay up to date with new products – when they don’t even know if they like existing products!
If you’re stuck on writing good CTAs, we have just the video for you.
Category and Product Pages
Using the Women’s Wear category page as an example, let’s take a look at how lululemon set out the category and product pages.
The call to action on this page is “Gifts for Her” which is ideal for this time of year (mid-December).
This is then followed by “Outwear Wear”, which also fits with the time of year. Despite not going for much of a “festive” feel on the site, lululemon still optimised its category pages for gift buyers and those looking for warmer workout wear during the winter months.
These sections are then followed by other products, such as leggings, yoga mats and fitness equipment, the normal type of thing you expect to see on a category page.
Despite the community tab at the top though, which is full of educational content, it’s surprising that there isn’t any of that scattered throughout this page.
You’d expect tips and workouts, such as keeping warm while you workout outside, in which they can include actionable advice and links to their products.
But, there’s nothing but links to products on this page, no blogs or other content.
So far on their website, it’s been hard to see where they bring the community element into their site, other than the community tab. This may sound like a daft complaint to make as the community tab is right there, but you’d really expect to see more of their community content on other parts of their site, not just in a dedicated section.
Clicking through to the “Gifts for Her” subcategory, you are greeted with four different categories based on the type of fitness you, or the person you’re buying a gift for, might be into. This is very helpful, especially for gift-givers who have just been told, “get me a surprise from lululemon”. If you don’t know where to start, these options help guide you.
There are a lot of good things to say about lululemon’s product pages.
Taking a look at this long sleeve top, each colour has a different model wearing it and in most cases, there is a lot of diversity from model to model.
The product images themselves feature a wide range of angles and poses so you can get a good view of the product. They’ve also added a ‘top gift’ note in the corner to help out gift-givers during this holiday season.
Most notably though, the model’s clothing size and height are listed on the product image. This is hugely helpful to potential shoppers to help them make comparisons to their own body types. Also included is lululemon’s True Fit calculator, which helps customers find out what size they are in lululemon’s clothing.
What’s great about these product pages is that you get nearly all the information you need from the above to fold section. You can easily see the product, reviews, a very short description, colours and the sizes available.
If you have more questions about the product, such as the materials and features, you can scroll down and see more product info.
This section is very neat, and being able to open up the sections rather than being bombarded with information is also a bonus.
The product features are short bullet points – they don’t feel the need to over-explain themselves. This is good for the most part, but they could link to pages explaining some of the technology or words further, such as the “Silverescent Technology” or “Sweat-wicking” as new customers may not be familiar with these terms.
As you scroll down you are followed by a sticky menu at the top that once clicked, takes the customer back to the top of the page where to purchase the product. This is a constant reminder to make a purchase as you scroll. It’s not too intrusive and is a good way to keep the call to action – purchasing – right in front of the customer.
Looking to improve your own product pages? Start with this video.
There isn’t much of note to say about lululemon’s mobile site, other than the above the fold image taking up the full width of the screen, unlike the desktop website where it feels quite small because of the double menu.
When you click through to the “New In” category page, you are greeted with an empty space and a low-resolution image reminding you to place orders by the 19th to get them in time for Christmas.
Considering the double menu and small photos on the desktop website, it would be expected that the site was optimised for mobile with desktop as a bit of an afterthought, but this makes it look like the desktop site is their main priority.
The community tab on the lululemon website is where they house all their interactive content including workouts, info about their ambassadors, events, goal setting, and lululemon’s impact statements.
It has content that caters to all sides of its audience, from yogis to runners. There are blogs, videos, training guides and even workout playlists.
lululemon’s online studio has a wealth of content based around a variety of workouts and promoting their visitors to use #thesweatlife if they are sharing their workout journey on social media.
They have 47 yoga videos in a YouTube playlist, but nothing new has been added since February 2021. It’s a similar story with the rest of their playlists for other workout styles.
They include info about their ambassadors, as well as photos of the ambassadors from each store so customers know exactly who to speak to if they have questions about a specific topic. Each ambassador’s store is listed as well as their fitness topic of interest.
There is also an events section, but when you click on each location to see the events in your area, you get sent to a Facebook 404, which is a bit odd.
However, when you go to the goal-setting section and click “Find a goal session near me”, you get taken to the general events pages. It’s confusing and likely to put off anyone who is trying to get involved with lululemon in person.
For a business that started off with such a focus on community, it seems like that has taken a back seat when it comes to lululemon’s website.
Despite this, with the Coronavirus pandemic still ongoing at the time of writing, it’s good to see that they have a good range of at-home workout content.
Search Engine Optimisation
Now we’ve looked at how the website operates on the front end, let’s take a look at what’s going on in terms of SEO (search engine optimisation) on lululemon’s website.
lululemon’s Website Traffic
lululemon is estimated by SE Ranking* to be getting over 304,000 visitors to its website each month and paid traffic (PPC campaigns on Google, Facebook and Instagram) is estimated to be costing the company around £183,000.
We can see that the website had a big traffic increase around February 2021, so it’s very possible it started running paid ads around this time to hit a wider UK audience.
Taking a look at other big-name fitness wear brands in the UK, we can see that Gymshark is receiving 1.7m monthly visitors to its site, as well as spending over £700,000 on PPC, so lululemon does have a way to go if it wants to compete with Gymshark.
Another competitor, with similarly priced leggings, is Sweaty Betty. It is getting a similar amount of traffic to lululemon – 307,000 visitors but it’s estimated to be spending slightly less on PPC at £173,000.
It appears that lululemon is performing about average for its price point, but will need to improve if it wants to compete with the likes of Gymshark.
lululemon’s Keyword Optimisation
lululemon is ranking for over 23,000 search terms. The site is in the first position on Google for many branded search terms, which is great to see as it shows lululemon has a strong brand, and specific products connected to that brand that potential customers are searching for.
As expected, searches for “lululemon leggings” are one of its highest volume search terms when it comes to a specific product, with an estimated search volume of 9.9k, but considering the company’s yoga roots, other search terms like “lululemon yoga mat” or “lululemon yoga pants” are much lower, at 2.9k searches and 590 searches for these terms respectively.
There is room for lululemon to improve on the traffic it is getting for certain branded search terms, especially if it wants to position itself as more than just a leggings brand.
This could be done via digital PR campaigns focusing on the other products. lululemon does create blog content around fitness and its products, but it certainly seems like the company needs an external push to help boost its brand presence and increase the volume of a wider variety of branded search terms.
Digital PR can be very lucrative for all businesses.
Looking at where lululemon is placing for non-branded search terms, it’s in position one for a high number of low traffic search terms. This is a great example of why using SEO to target lower volume keywords can be lucrative – although the individual keyword has a small search volume, if you rank first place for a lot of them, the traffic starts to stack up.
Where lululemon can improve is on its “page two search terms“. These are search terms that the company is appearing on page two of Google for, and these are always a great place to start for any company looking to improve their organic search ranking.
We can see in SE Ranking* that lululemon is ranking position 11, so the top of page two of Google, for high volume, unbranded search terms such as “long sleeve yoga top“, “racerback top” and “sweatpants men“.
If lululemon optimised its website content for these keywords or created new content which could include these keywords and their variations (it’s not exactly easy to put “sweatpants men” into a sentence, so instead you’d go for “sweatpants for men” or “men’s sweatpants“) they could certainly see a position increase on Google and make it to page one, meaning more traffic for the website as it’s rare anyone goes to the second page of Google.
To be real, when was the last time you visited the second page or even scrolled to the bottom of page one?
It’s a more effective strategy to try and optimise your “page two content” over the content that’s ranking page 100, as moving from page two to page one is likely to be easier than moving from page 100 to page one.
If you’re not sure where to start with your own keyword research, give this video a watch.
Lastly, let’s take a look at lululemon’s metadata.
The meta title for their homepage is “lululemon UK | Yoga and Activewear | The Official Site”. This is great as it covers their offering of yoga and activewear and ties it to their brand.
The inclusion of “The Official Site” probably wouldn’t normally be necessary, but it’s possible they had imitation websites being set up and wanted to include this to combat that. For the most part, you don’t need to include “official site” in your title.
“lululemon UK” could also be moved to the end of the title, so that the keywords, yoga and activewear are right at the front, grabbing the searcher’s attention when they are reading the search results, as well as helping the page rank for the correct terms on Google.
They may not know who lululemon is, and might not get as far as reading the full title if they are just quickly scanning the results.
Their homepage meta description is “lululemon makes technical athletic clothes for yoga, running, working out, and most other sweaty pursuits. As always, shipping & returns are free.”
It’s great to see them include the benefit of free shipping and returns in this description, as it’s a great selling point that they may have over competitors. It also instantly takes away an objection before the searcher clicks through to the site – they know right away that if they are not happy with the purchase they can return it easily for free.
They also include keywords in the description such as “yoga”, “running” and “working out”, which although won’t help with SEO as much as the meta title does, will help with getting clicks from customers who are searching for those products.
If you want to perfect your own metadata, check out this video.
Taking a look at the metadata on a product category page, namely the leggings page since that’s the most popular product, we can see that they have optimised their meta title here too.
“Leggings | Yoga, Run & Train | lululemon UK”
This time lululemon has made the decision to move the brand name to the end of the title, meaning the keywords are right at the front which will help the page rank better for these words on Google search.
The meta description, “Our women’s leggings are designed to make you feel your best, whether you’re running, practicing yoga or at the studio. Free shippings & returns.”
Again, the benefit of free shipping and returns has been included, although this time they did make a spelling mistake which could be off putting to a new customer who doesn’t already associate the company with luxury.
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Key Learnings and Takeaways
So what can we take away from lululemon’s marketing strategy and add to our own marketing strategies? There was a lot to take in, so here are the key points.
Use Social Media Platforms to Their Full Extent
lululemon uses every part of Instagram – photos, videos, Reels, stories and user-generated content by other Instagram users. The company uses every feature Instagram has to offer, adding huge variety to the content being shared, as well as cultivating a community with a hashtag.
Adapt Your Content
lululemon’s content adapts to the platform it is being posted on. Instagram is very visual, whereas Twitter is more text-based so lululemon has played to that. The company has also found a niche on TikTok where more light-hearted content is helping lululemon reach a younger audience.
Deal With Complaints ASAP
Don’t let your social media become full of complaints. Where you can, communicate with other teams to try and come to a solution and express how damaging it can be to the company to have social media comments full of negative experiences.
Optimise Your Call to Action
Your call to action is key! Make sure it guides the customer to the next step, as well as making it appealing and concise. Think about the next step you want your website visitors to take and then work from there. Don’t be afraid to use heat mapping software or even conduct interviews with your demographic and see what they think of your website. If they struggle to understand the next step they should be taking, or express that the call to action is not appealing enough, then it’s time to make changes.
Make Purchasing Easy
The lululemon product pages are a great example of how to help a customer with a purchase. Make it easy for them to find their size, show plenty of photos and use a variety of models in your photography. If your products have specific sizing, a calculator could be a great addition to your product pages. This is another place you can use heat mapping software and feedback sessions to see what people outside of the company think of the pages.
Improve Page Two Content
If you’re looking for quick SEO wins, improving page two content is a great strategy. It’s much easier to move from page two to page one than it is to try and improve pages ranking on the 100th page of Google. Focus your efforts where you can make a big change. Yes, it would be nice to gain ranking on keywords you’re ranking page 100 for, but it’s going to take a lot longer than moving from page two to page one.
If you’ve read all the above and are thinking, “I want the success lululemon has had but I don’t know where to start”, then we have just the suggestion for you. Why not request one of our website and digital marketing reviews? They’re totally free, and there are no strings attached either.
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