• Anne Heaney, Director

Lululemon Plans Its Second Act

The Canadian activewear giant made yoga pants a status symbol. The challenge facing Lululemon today is that it’s now just one athleisure brand in an ocean of brands competing for the same consumer. They are now planning for a post-athleisure industry drowning in activewear.

Over the last two years, Lululemon has developed a way to identify and measure each person’s unique pattern of movement. Lululemon plans to capitalize on its ability to track how each customer’s body moves and has created a in-store treadmill, which will be called the “Signature Movement Experience.” The idea is for customers to learn about their own unique pattern of motion while allowing store representatives to provide highly customized product recommendations.

Until now, the entire sportswear industry–Lululemon included–recommended products based on the customer’s size and a specific activity. Now facing competition from countless activewear startups, Lululemon is eyeing its future in a post-athleisure world, where comfort–not product categories–determines what consumers wear to work as well as the gym. By capitalizing on this individualized, data-based style of customer experience, the brand wants to push the athleisure genre it pioneered in the 2000s forward.

It is already working toward creating a comprehensive range of bras. It currently makes 33 different options designed to provide a variety of compression and textures against the skin thanks to the brand’s large catalogue of proprietary fabrics. One bra, the Enlite, has multiple straps on the back to provide a lot of support, and is made of Ultralu fabric that feels cool and smooth against the skin. The Flow Y bra, on the other hand, is a racerback, which provides a looser fit, and it is made from Nulu, which is buttery-soft.

Many of Lululemon’s competitors–including other mega-brands like Nike and Adidas–talk about high-performance clothing in purely objective terms, emphasizing things like compression, moisture-wicking properties, and breathability. But through their research, they firmly believe these are the wrong metrics to be tracking. “It’s clear to us that people experience the exact same conditions very differently,” Waller says. “It’s not just that our bodies move and respond to the world differently: We also have very different perceptions of the world.”

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