Lululemon admits it has work to do on ‘low’ brand awareness 

The premium athleticwear label has been investing in brand building to boost awareness and customer acquisition, as it eyes improvements to its speed-to-market.

LululemonLululemon is ramping up its investment in marketing and brand building to tackle its brand awareness problem, which the company says remains “very low” in every country except its home market of Canada. 

Speaking during its Q1 2024 earnings call (5 June), CEO Calvin McDonald revealed unaided brand awareness currently sits in the “low-30s”, which the brand is working hard to shift. 

“Investments in marketing and brand building [are] aimed at increasing our awareness in acquiring new guests, international growth and market expansion, and technology infrastructure and data analytics capabilities,” McDonald said, adding that activations across its grassroots and global platforms are key to accelerating that growth. 

Against a “slower” but still strong Q1 performance that saw revenues increase 10% to $2.2bn (£1.7bn) and gross profit reach $1.3bn (£1bn), McDonald highlighted several “successful” earned media activations. These included the launch of new footwear styles, an ultramarathon event and kit for the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic athletes. Such initiatives helped boost product innovation revenue by 10% for womenswear and 15% for menswear, while sales increased 7% overall. 

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Re-enforcing Lululemon’s increased focus on brand activations, chief brand officer Nikki Neuburger has taken on an expanded role as chief brand and product activation officer. 

According to Lululemon, Neuburger will work to integrate the merchant and brand teams more fully to “streamline decision-making” and ensure the brand “show[s] up powerfully and consistently” for customers across all markets. 

“All of this is intended to speed the ideation process with regard to product storytelling and further improve our speed-to-market. And help maintain and enhance our pipeline of product innovation,” McDonald explains. 

Leveraging the power of membership

Lululemon’s membership programme also looks poised to play a more central role in its strategy going forward. With approximately 20 million members in North America, McDonald notes the brand is starting to “leverage the power” of its membership by offering benefits such as early access to products and invitations to exclusive events. 

“[This] will ultimately drive both spend and long-term value,” he said.

The Lululemon CEO also explained how a combination of local engagement, community activations and larger scale brand campaigns will give the brand “significant runway” to attract new customers, driving them to stores and ecommerce. 

Looking to the second half of 2024, McDonald said Lululemon’s pipeline of innovation and launch cadence is looking “particularly strong”, adding that the brand is performing well against ambitions to double revenue in the next five years.