Christmas break

Dear diary,

It’s my second favourite time of the year (nothing beats Scandinavian July and August but we’re close) and I felt inspired to embrace these great times through writing, for memory refreshment when I’m old ;). Though I tend to blaze my travels and not so much my life back home, I must say that it is Finland and my everyday life, combined with occasional periods abroad that make me happiest. I hope that I will soon be honoured to host my friends from abroad.

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My Fall was an intense period of kicking off my master studies and working in a digital agency. Though working hours occasionally stretched until night and weekends, I never felt exhausted. I, perhaps first time in my life, felt that I am in right place with both my work and studies. Besides mandatory communication courses, I took few advanced marketing courses purely out of interest; I cannot take the credits as part of my study plan, yet I’ll never regret this extra work. Besides learning a lot, I identified some new areas of interests of mine; fashion (marketing, digitization, retail experience, consumer behaviour), for one. On another course, we created a coffee game/app, which we even might eventually develop further. Either way, I’m now confident that I can design an appealing and user friendly app. And let me say that gamification just might be the future of marketing and process management 😉 Anyway, I truly encourage curious people to reach out of their field of expertise for multidisciplinary knowledge.

After an intense Fall, I was lucky to take a long Christmas break. Barcelona with two bffs was a perfect start, followed by cozy Christmas with family. We got the most beautiful snowy and crispy Winter Wonderland for Christmas, which remains as I write this piece. Traditional Boxing Day dancing took place as well of course – we literally danced all night. Now I’m sitting on a train towards Tahko. Ski, relax, great company and some New Year’s partying – our recipe for a perfect last week of Christmas break.

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xxx, S

P.S. Last year this time I was at Bali, finishing three week volunteering work in an organic farm, about to fly off to Bangkok to meet Jenny. We had become friends the previous Summer when we both lived in New York. The short but sweet time together there had convinced us that we’d make a great team in Asia too. We were right and we’ll surely cherish memories of the trip forever. Not many people know how many different vehicles you need to get from Koh Tao, Thailand to El Nido, Philippines. Or how good a glass of cold white wine and steak of fish with mango sauce can taste when arriving to El Nido after 72 hours of traveling. Check our very own trip hashtag #mangomonsteritviidakossa14 in Instagram for travel inspiration. 🙂

 

Fashion today – thoughts on retail experience revolution and the empire of top models and bloggers

This is a learning diary for my all-time favourite course so far at Aalto Business School; Consumer Behavior, Retail Experience & Fashion. It was taught by Finnish marketing guru and professor of practice, Pekka Mattila. Oh how I wish that all professors were so passionate and proficient on their subject 😉

 

Fashion today – thoughts on retail experience revolution and the empire of top models and bloggers

Sonja Hannus

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I found the connection between style and fashion one of the most interesting topics discussed during the course. For me, fashion is time-dependent; it appears and disappears over time. It has to change in order to trends be considered as fashionable. The moment counts – when the trend becomes accessible for everyone, it is already out of fashion. Interesting question is who decides what is in fashion – who are the influential forerunners. For me, it is the ones who have acquired a status of power and appreciation strong enough – followers trust when these people claim something to be in fashion. Most likely it is those people who attend the fashion shows; editors, “IT girls”, bloggers and so on. Of course the designers create the fashion, however, they do not have the power to make it fashionable before these influential individuals absorb it and share it to bigger audiences by wearing or creating content of it.

Style then, is more personal. Wearing fashionable items from head to toe might not be stylish; it is how you combine elements and make them fit and look on your body. It is about expressing yourself or what you want to be through clothing and accessories, manners, other people, your environment and beyond – everything that relates to one’s essence of being stylish. Elements and pieces may change from day to day depending on occasion, time of day, mood and so on, but it does not necessarily need to change in order to be stylish. Style can be both following the trends in fashion, or remain timeless by using same pieces, cuts, fabrics and colors from year to year.

1.0 Fashion & digitization

Digitization in fashion is fairly recent yet constantly increasing phenomenon. Brands need to decide how and to what extent they will take part. Innovative forerunners will gain competitive advantage. Burberry is one of the foregoers in the industry in using information technology to share information for bigger audiences. The brand has built a retail theatre to its flagship store in London. This way they can streamline fashion shows held during fashion weeks for global audiences. This has enabled to increase audience from a venue that takes in 1500 people to 650 000; the heritage maintains yet innovative design and service experience is applied. This can be defined as service & communication innovation. (Alexei Gloukhovtsev)

Professor Eunju Ko from South Korea told us about social media trends in Asia. Most memorable thing for me was the attractiveness of Asia as a business market. China has 600 million social media users, major social channels being Weibo, Wechat, RenRen and Kaixin. I feel confident that new social media channels will arise and eventually compete with Facebook as well like they always have with Facebook. Asian people are intrigued by products and services that Western people use; utilizing Asian social media channels in advertising, for example, could be a great channel to break through in the Asian market.

2.0 Retail Experience under a revolution

I found concept stores in South Korea an interesting phenomenon. Concept store is a store designed to appeal a certain segment of consumer – retail store that goes beyond selling products but instead appeals to a general sense of lifestyle. A concept store typically has a single vision for the group it is appealing to.

CASE:

Inspired by this, I wanted to plan a concept store that would fit the needs of consumer in the segment I myself belong to. My segment would be an urban young woman who loves cities but is critical in the environment where to spend time. Too crowded places are a no-no and they hate anything targeted for masses and love personal boutiques when it comes to any products and services. Their favorite pastime is eating (healthy and fresh), exercising, and spending time with friends over good cup of coffee & raw cake, glass of wine and so on. Environment is super important: interior and atmosphere needs to be cozy, not too bright, not too loud or crowded. I think that this segment is actually not THAT niche but rather growing constantly. Ideal concept store for this segment would consist of, with the reference store:

  1. Healthy & organic grocery store: fresh juice press, quality coffee, fresh & takeaway deli (Wholefoods)
  2. Sports clothes store; yoga wear, run, gym clothes and equipment: (e.g. Nike, Lululemon)
  3. Gym, yoga, sauna and space to exercise (Equinox club)
  4. Fashion stores with chic, urban, high quality yet not too pricey clothes (from Zara to Filippa K style)
  5. Cozy restaurant with healthy yet delicious food and cozy interior (Lundberg, Café Kokko, Favela, Sandro in Helsinki)
  6. Library: With books about lifestyle, self-development, business, psychology, philosophy, nutrition etc.

If this were not (for now) possible, cluttering these types of stores would be ideal, as consumers of this segment enjoy the concept. Although this concept could not be directly applied globally, I still think this segment exists all over the world; to some extent it could be copied, with adoption to fit the needs at the location.

2.1. Brand image & Storytelling

For a luxury brand, succeeding to create and maintain desired brand image is crucial. Louis Vuitton has done innovative marketing through storytelling videos that characterizes a city as a person (When Hong Kong is a woman), which I found awesome. I also found interesting to learn that Vuitton is never present at airports, as they do not want consumers to make a last minute purchase. This makes sense; when consumer makes a spontaneous purchase, he/she is more likely to regret it, which then affects on their brand image, either consciously or unconsciously.

Many brands use storytelling video ads. Chanel has done great job in this for years for number 5 perfume. They recently launched a new one with top model Gisele Bündchen. It manages to tell a love story in just 3 minutes. A beautiful lady, looking flawless from the beginning, yet natural first, for few moments thinks that her husband is leaving her as he exits their apartment. Then she finds a love note from him. She enhances herself with Chanel lipstick and perfume. She goes to model for a shooting, looking perfect, after which she drives to a theater/bar where they meet. Love and passion is a strong emotion that appeals to its audience. The couple is flawless; consumer feels that she can relate to the lady in the video and find herself madly in love and be loved by wearing this perfume. Effective, in my opinion. (http://youtu.be/8asRWe5XNw8)

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2.2. Research methods – Experiences of doing ethnography

Ethnography is a research method in which you as a researcher dive into people’s daily lives; watching, listening, asking questions. It is about experiencing the same your target does. Powerful methods are video diary and mystery shopping. Our guest lecturer Elina Koivisto gave us some tips: “You are the most important research instrument than anyone else/other tool. Use your brains! Do thinking, go beyond obvious.”

I enjoyed doing ethnography at Lumi – brand managers should always do it in their store. Although I at first thought that Lumi has done great job in branding their ecommerce and mortar and brick, I only after doing ethnography realized that there would be a lot to do in order to enhance brand performance. Our main recommendations was to strengthen storytelling in both online and offline stores. In mortar and brick, this would mean adding Lapland related elements such and pictures and materials to create an illusion of being in a forest. Other recommendation was to improve the online shopping experience. Adding personalization and automation to the site by identifying the user (reference amazon.com) is a good starting point.

2.3. Social shopping experience and affect of environment

Should stores try to influence the kind of customers they attract? In my opinion, of course they do. Each business needs to segment the market it is operating in, and target to this segment. Especially luxury brands are highly sensible to their perceived image by consumers. If inappropriate consumers end up to the store, the target customers (stylish, wealthy and influential) might downgrade their opinion about this brand, and shift over to a more exclusive brand.

Social environment of a store is important. Luxury brands are controlling the shopping environment by allowing only a certain amount of people into the store at once. The amount in is important to consider – too much is often distressing but to be the only one at store might be as well. Easiness of entry to store is also important – sometimes people might not step into a small boutique if they are afraid of getting too much attention, perhaps if they feel that they are not target customers, or simply because of getting staff’s full attention. This might be beneficial for the store, but often is not (loosing customers). Also, Word-of-mouth is more important than ever – consumers trust what they hear of the brand from their friends. Thus customer service and flexibility is increasingly important.

I personally think that creating amazing experiences for consumers is the future of retail. Brands doing this well will succeed. For example, a luxury brand needs to consider the online shopping experience: home delivery option, ordering online but pick up from mortar and brick and so on. Beacons would be a good way to identify customers and serve them accordingly. For example, when the customer makes an entry to the store, iPad would notify the sales lady, and show customer’s shopping history. She could then serve the customer based on this. This is just one simple idea; brands need to come with innovative solutions that fit to needs of target consumers. The North Face is doing great hob with their current campaign, encouraging consumers to explore the lands around them. They did a campaign where they took people who stepped into a taxi in New York City, for a full day adventure. Activities included surfing in the Rockaways, mountain biking and kayaking in Utah (link here). This is the core of future marketing. It is always a brand dependent process.

3.0. Fashion as a system & language

For me, fashion is self-identification and a way to express yourself. It is signaling your identity, values and moods through your appearance and your environment – physical location, company (other people), home interior and so on. It is the elements and ways you choose to make yourself unique. Fashion goes beyond clothes and wearable.

Besides the actual products, luxury brands sell the luxurious feeling among the product. Each luxury house sells their unique image with each of their product. For example, Hermes Birkin bag is a piece that for its carrier is not just a functional hand bag, but it let others know that she belongs to a certain elite that not everyone can belong into, she has power. Brands create these communities with certain features. However, also luxury brands sell smaller pieces that are expensive but still accessible for wider segment. For example, a young woman who can’t afford Birkin bag could purchase a Hermes bracelet and that way feel as part of the Hermes “community” – luxurious, stylish and iconic.

3.1. Reproduction of roles in fashion systems

There are at least two phenomena that I’ve been thinking about already before being aware of the definition fashion system. First, is the way fashion bloggers shape the fashion system nowadays. Top fashion bloggers have created a multimillion business around their blog; they travel around the world, attend the fashion weeks in first row, visit luxury brands’ showrooms and villas and show their experiences and outfits through photos and stories in their blog. They have millions of followers, which motivate brands to provide them with any pieces they wish to wear for visibility. And not just any kind of visibility, but styled in most amazing setting, wore by reader’s favorite bloggers. Brands have acknowledged the power of bloggers. This correlates with the fact that print magazines are loosing audience, who are shifting to real-time, online environment. Also, chains such as H&M and Zara have noticed the power of bloggers. They can produce and offer similar pieces that a blogger has wore in just couple short weeks.

Tuula Vintage (tuulavintage.com), for one, is travelling around the world, combining street wear with luxurious pieces, however nowadays mostly too pricey for average consumers. Yet she always provides links (though paid) for similar pieces in street wear stores. This is the nature of this business. Professional photographer shoots their pictures so the posts can be equal in quality with a fashion magazine editorial. In my opinion, top blogger creates fashion by wearing a certain outfit in certain time and place. Readers know that this certain blogger has a sense for style as they have followed her for years already. The reader will therefore take it for granted that this outfit is fashionable, rather than if they just saw it wore by anonymous face in ecommerce store (or would never even discover these pieces/style). Posts are often accompanied with a little story of why the outfit was chosen for that specific time and place. Referring to Roland Barthes, iconic structures, which make image clothing would be the blog platform, high-resolution photos and the beautiful bloggers. Written-garment then would be the story of the post.

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Chiara Ferragni, a former law student in Bocconi University, is one the most influential bloggers and fashion names with her blog The Blonde Salad. Last week, she joined the private jet from New York to London with Victoria’s Secret angels, to capture the moments and share them in social media. This of course is beneficial for the brand as Ferragni has millions of followers in Instagram and in her blog. (theblondesalad.com)

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Another phenomenon I’ve been thinking about for some while already is the power of Instagram and to be specific, power of certain individuals there. Top models today have millions of followers there and they gain these followers by showing their daily life, which “normal” people are extremely interested of. Via Instagram they know in real-time what their idols or sources of inspiration are doing. This is very recent phenomenon – top models today are not as mysterious as Tyra Banks or Kate Moss used to be.

I find it interesting that the more personality top model has got, the more popular she is. Cara Delevingne (world’s most followed top model, age 22, 8.8m followers in Instagram) has established such a strong and favorable reputation that she can do whatever she wants and the brands will remain hunting after her as her market value is so high. In my opinion, she has reshaped the fashion system in this way. Instead of judging, Head Designer for Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld is joining the rebellious and goofy actions of Delevingne. Of course by saying anything, I don’t mean that Delevingne or similar names would associate themselves with drugs or such – as opposite, influential individuals are promoting against campaigns for human rights whenever they have a chance. They are aware of their power and will use it to promote ‘the greater good’. Being a strong and even weird personality will not affect brands’ interest towards Delevingne – when browsing any Vogue, I notice that she is the face for most (literally) brands: Chanel, Mulberry, Burberry, H&M, Topshop, Zara, D&G, Fendi, Stella McCartney, Oscar De La Renta and so on. Also, she is not afraid to post “ugly” pictures of herself. “STOP LABELING START LIVING” is her slogan – and the entire world seems to love her. The photo below is posted by Cara herself on her Instagram account.

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4.0. Fashion as a power structure

According to Veblen, fashion as a power structure means that people use resources to transmit a higher social status than others. For assignment IV, we watched the film La Grande Bellezza. Throughout the film, I was intrigued by the setting of the main character being always in outfits that were considered to the last detail, that were timeless, well tailored and fitted. Also the ladies of upper class were stylish; they used colors, fine fabrics, tailored cuts, and beautiful dresses with prestigious accessories. The ladies clearly had their own styles that let them express themselves. Outfits were never too sexy but always feminine and beautiful. Lower class ladies dressed differently – outfits were revealing and a lot of make up was worn.

Creative Director of Costumes, Daniela Ciancio, put it this way: “I’m very tied to the idea of the classic male. I like the elegance of the classic man, but not too formal — elegant, classic, but still young. Above all, it’s based on the quality of the cut and fabric.The world around Jep has lost that elegance; he’s the only one who still has this elegance in the film.” I think this holds truth. The time of the film is clearly current time – MacBooks and iPhones are present. People in the scenes at city dress very casually – men are wearing t-shirts and shorts. However, Jep is always stylish. These kinds of men are rare these days, everywhere.

I enjoyed analyzing style present in Blue Jasmine as well. Presentations held by our classmates were very interesting – I would have never spotted (at least at first watching round) that Jasmine was wearing her Birkin bag in every scene besides the last one, when she was having a break down. Also, the usage of Chanel jacket in situation where she needed extra confidence was interesting. Jasmine’s style was flawless – feminine, appropriate, beautiful, timeless. An observation I made while watching the film: When Jasmine and her sister were shopping at Prada (or some other luxury shop), her sister spotted a little yellow bag, which Jasmine encouraged her to buy. However, Jasmine would’ve never bought this bag herself though it was Prada. This made me think about the fact that not everything is stylish (to the ‘style icons’) though they are luxurious. The true upper class ladies wear often neutral colors, fine materials and timeless pieces.

5.0. Conclusion

I have discussed some content of our course that I found in particular interesting and thought raising. I enjoyed the course a lot and truly feel that it has made me see many things in a different way for good. So far, I have actually thought that I am not interested in studying fashion whatsoever. I now realize that fashion is so much more than I have traditionally thought, and I find the history, sociology, psychology and philosophy related to it extremely interesting.

References

Tuulavintage.com

Theblondesalad.com

http://creativity-online.com/work/the-north-face-see-for-yourself/38114

Roland Barthes, The Fashion Systems

Lecturers: Professors Pekka Mattila, Alexei Gloukhovtsev, Elina Koivisto, Eunju Ko

Where Picasso used to paint

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Three visits it took for me to fall for this city. Previous trips had not left any special attachment in me and did not really get why so many claimed that “Barcelona is the best city in Europe”. Third visit did the trick; suddenly, it was worth all the appraisal.

Each city feels cozier when experienced like a local. Assi and I visited Satu, who was finalising her exchange semester. She lived in the most beautiful, lively and atmospheric area, El Gotic. Even Picasso himself got his inspiration to his most famous piece of art on Satu’s home street. 😉

Tapas and wine – oh so good. Vibes – great. My company – BEST. ❤

Revitalizing brand image by improving retail experience & business ethics

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Canadian clothing company Lululemon Athletica was founded in Vancouver in 1998. Founder Chip Wilson’s original idea was to create a new type of clothing specifically for yogis, but also for dancing, running and other sweaty activities. He saw that most athletic clothing was made of cotton, which was a sweat inducing and heavy material, and wanted to offer consumers a lighter, more comfortable style of sportswear. Since then Lululemon has grown to be one of the most prominent and successful yoga apparel brand for men and women across the world. Company’s mission is to create components for people to live longer, healthier and fun lives. Lululemon aims to have strong ties with local communities. They host in-store events such as workshops and complimentary yoga classes.

Stain in brand image: Business ethics

Lululemon has managed to build a community of loyal customers and employees. Employees are committed and motivated to proactively maintain and develop the brand image. Vision, mission and strategy are aligned. However, when one begins to do even a little research on the brand, nasty facts reveal; company is not acting as responsibly and ethically as they claim.

Despite the success, company has also caused several scandals in the recent years. The brand received a great deal of negative media attention in 2013 when CEO Chip Wilson stated that their clothes don’t fit all body types, meaning heavy people. His response to customers’ observations of the quality of fabrics stated: “Quite frankly, some women’s bodies just actually don’t work for it. It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there.” Naturally, this is not an appropriate way to respond to feedback – the comment showed disrespect towards customers and for the female body in general. Personally, I understand that a sport brand promotes healthy lifestyle and therefore healthy body size, but fact is that thighs in a normal weight female body do touch each other. Wilson made the matter even worse by publishing an apologize video, which was claimed to be the worst in history. This incident caused many brand ambassadors to step down. For example, Huffington Post editor Mehlman Petrzela claimed that no one should be walking in of Lululemon’s doors again. This incident along with some other scandals, such as a lawsuit filed by a company shareholder, has caused the brand image to seriously suffer. Share fell 17.5%, decreased market value by $1.62 billion (financialpost.com). CEO Wilson eventually stepped down after the incidents, which is a step towards re-vitalizing the brand.

Lululemon has also been criticized for its “survival of the fittest” hiring policies, which tend to favor competitive, type A personalities. “When we first started, we hired nothing but yogis,” Wilson told Fast Company in 2009. “But it didn’t work because they were too slow. So we started hiring runners who like yoga. They’re more on the ball, more type A.” Again, this is a questionable policy that indicates of the high pressure that are set for employees.

Consumers nowadays are conscious on what they purchase and they demand ethical actions. Consumer power can and does make a difference in today’s world of social media and instant communication. And once consumer has boycotted a brand, they are unlikely to return to it (Kuudes Linja). According to King (2008), boycotts are most effective in changing corporate behavior when they receive high levels of media attention and damage corporate reputation. I will briefly analyze current situation with a SWOT and then give discuss on how brand could reinvigorate through better consumer insight.

Analysis of current situation

Segment: Urban upper middle class individuals who are passionate about healthy lifestyle and exercising

Positioning: Exclusive quality in sports and yoga apparel

SWOT:

Strengths

– Loyal brand community

– Perception of high quality

– Strong brand image enables premium pricing

Weaknesses

– Limited global penetration

– Several scandals have diluted brand image

Threats

– Sports clothing industry is highly competitive in terms of amount of brands

– Consumers are becoming more price-conscious

Opportunities

– The market is driven by a trend towards healthy, active lifestyles

– Increased penetration globally

 Self-conception through fashion: sporty lifestyle is trendy

Lululemon has done great job, despite the scandals, in helping females embrace their bodies using comfortable and functional clothes. Traditionally, sport clothes have been considered as a separate clothing category, associated only to exercising occasion. However, the boundary between casual daywear and sport clothes is becoming vaguer, as consumers start to appreciate sports clothes’ features more and more. Alexander Wang recently launched a collection of sporty street wear clothes. Each piece can be worn as street wear, sport wear or at nightclub (as dancing makes you sweaty). Functionality is trendy. Also, Nike recently opened a store for women, which has an entire collection for casual sportswear; trendy enough to be street wear as well. Lululemon clothes fall into category considered fashionable enough to be worn outside the exercising situation as well. Typical Lulu customer appreciates functionality, high quality and clothes that embrace their body. They want to express joy, well being and sportiness through these clothes. In general, appearance signals identity, values, moods and attitude. By wearing Lululemon clothes, he/she signals: “I take care of my well-being. I love yoga and exercise. I wear top sport clothes available.” The target market is attractive and potential due to changes in consumer behavior explained above.

This already has and eventually will make them loose their customers, if nothing will change. Next, I will suggest that the brand needs to re-enhance their brand image and start truly act responsibly. 

Reinventing the brand image

Because of the issues stated earlier, it is obvious that Lululemon needs to better handle their Reputation Management (van de Ven, 2008). Requires of stakeholders need to be better addresses, as well as respond to criticism from society. In my opinion, criticism should always be taken in, thought about and act based on it (in contrary to Wilson’s arguments against his customers). Market research should be made to address misalignment between brand identity and brand image.

As a consultant, I would suggest the following. Lululemon has managed to build an established, appreciated brand name. Although the scandals have diluted brand image, they have still got a wide fan base. Employees are passionate and proactively develop the brand. The problem, for long, was the CEO who lost his face and several loyal customers along. Now Lululemon has got to re-build its credibility and trust of consumers. I would not do fundamental changes to mission and vision, but rather focus on improving processes in business ethics as well as in retail experience. Finding ways to better connect with the consumers and proactively address their needs are crucial, which I will dive into in the next section.

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Enhancing the consumer experience

Mortar and brick stores are already great. Staff is always helpful and joyful, and the store environment is pleasant and visual. However, some observations can be made based on (mostly) ethnographic research, which I will elaborate in the following, accompanied with recommendations.

  1. Market penetration through mortar and brick stores

Stores now cover the US, Canada, Australia, few in Asia, the UK, Germany and the Netherlands. Brand needs to spread: at least the Nordic countries, China (now only Shanghai and Hong Kong), Southern European countries, Middle East (Dubai, Abu Dhabi) should be covered in order to widen the sales base. Though online shop covers almost the entire world, this is not enough; customers want to be able to go and try the clothes, touch and feel the fabrics and experience the buying process. This can be compared to luxury item buying process where people want to buy the product from the store to get the special treatment that comes along with the process. Lululemon needs both online and offline stores to widen the revenue base.

  1. Store opening hours

In Hong Kong, for example, the store opening hours are ridiculous considering the lifestyle of the target segment – upper middle class, who most likely work long hours at office and therefore shop late or on weekends. When a store is open 4 days a week, mostly from 11 am until 4 pm, this simply makes Lululemon loose its core target customers, as they miss the opening hours. Company needs to widen the opening hours until late night, and Sunday. Of course, consumers’ needs should be more thoroughly researched by interviews or such, but the results will most likely indicate what explained above.

  1. Pricing strategy

Though brand position is at the top in quality and brand image is strong, the prices are simply too high for most consumers. Taking a niche target in luxurious yoga apparel does not seem to be working, as consumers are getting more and more price conscious. Lululemon is competing with fashion brands as well, who have launched their sports collections (Forever 21, H&M etc.). These budget sport clothes can reach almost same quality as well as trendiness as Nike, for example, and therefore and competing with Lululemon as well. Consumers, who would prefer Lululemon over other brands, simply cannot afford it. This narrows up the customer base, which is not good is such competitive market. People are not willing to buy such high premium of sports clothes. Lululemon should keep higher prices than average, but still lower them a bit.

  1. Strengthening story telling and the Lulu community

Concept store approach should be adopted. Typical customer embraces healthy lifestyle; Lululemon concept store would consist of the clothing store, yoga studio, snack bar/ restaurant of healthy slow fast food and a book store/library. Clubs such as running, boxing, cooking etc. would be founded and further developed. The clubs could also interact across countries and continents so that similar minded people across the world could connect and build relationships. The community membership would enable joining events, workshops and even mutual holidays. Platform for blogging, experience sharing and conversation would be made easy for all community members.

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  1. Taking the role of a trend setter

Lululemon already has such an established reputation in the field of yoga and sports wear that they need to act as the forerunner in providing clothes for existing trends. As sports clothes are becoming more fashionable and the occasions to wear them is getting wider, consumers demand for fashion trends in this field as well. This relates to phenomenon of fashion as power structures – fashionable people want to show that they are on top of trends. As Lululemon is considered as a ‘luxury brand’ in the field of sports clothing, this position need to be utilized by providing fashionable collections for trendy consumers.

  1. Aligning business ethics

First step towards building the trust of consumers was the CEO stepping down. Company needs to make clear communication strategy on their view to particular questions from stakeholders. In my opinion, criticizing heavier female bodies should never be done. Rather, Lululemon clothes should be offered to all body sizes, as they can considered as a tool for healthier body. Also, the hiring policies need to be restated. Based on research, employees might find the culture of embracing healthy lifestyle to go too far, putting the employees to compete each other in their fitness regimes and such. Freedom and individuality should be embraced, letting employees to not feel too much pressure, as this might lead to undesired outcomes; employee burnouts, also causing negative media attention as employees share their experiences through word of mouth and social media. Employees are one of the brand’s greatest asset – management really need to connect with them and their needs.

Conclusion

Lululemon is one of the world’s most successful brands providing yoga and other sports apparel for trendy, wealthy and demanding consumers. They have managed to build a strong brand with loyal customer- and committed employee base. However, particular scandals in the recent years have diluted this brand image. Business ethics need to be reconsidered and policies established. Also, the retail experience is not currently optimal. I have made some recommendations for the company, which will help the brand to better connect with their target consumers.

References

https://blogs.ubc.ca/anthonycusati/2014/09/11/business-ethics-lululemon-fraud-scandal/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/natalia-mehlman-petrzela/why-this-lululemon-scanda_b_4304143.html

http://business.financialpost.com/2013/07/02/lululemon-sued-for-fraud-over-yoga-pants-recall-chief-christine-days-sudden-exit/#__federated=1

Kuudes Lija presentation

van de Ven, 2008

King, 2008