When Life Gives You Lemons, Check Their Transparency

25 Mar

The hottest topic in athletic apparel? Lululemon’s yoga pants. For those of you not familiar with the brand, here is a little background info.

According to Urban Dictionary, here is the most PC definition of Lululemon that I would personally agree with:

“A popular yoga and exercise brand of clothing. Mostly for yoga and dance and running, but also just worn for fashion. Extremely comfy and modified fabrics are used, like LUON for wicking properties and staying dry.”

Why all the buzz over a pair of yoga pants, you might ask? Well, turns out multiple batches of Lululemon’s popular pant were poorly manufactured, in turn, they are see-through. Customers have filed in one-by-one, back to the stores, to return these pants because of the pant’s transparency. This has resulted in a recall in the Luon Pants (and you thought only cars were recalled).

Before you read any further, take a look at this video.

Okay, okay, some of you might find this video a little bit offensive. The jokes about the “yoga pants” shortage, and “I like what it does to my curves, I have to say” quote. Let’s dig a little deeper into this.

My Professional Sales professor’s last words before he dismissed us for Spring Break: “Why do people pay $4.00 for a coffee at Starbucks, instead of paying $1.00 for a coffee at McDonald’s. It is about the experience.” And yes, there is an experience with yoga pants. Upper-middle class and upper class women will pay a Franklin ($100 bones) for  a pair of workout pants because they believe it enhances their workout experience. They want to be beautiful when they are sweating. These are not pants strictly for the gym either. Women will run errands in them or wear them around town as casual-wear because they like the way the pants look, the pants are comfortable, and the brand logo shines on the small of their back all day long.

photo credit: lululemon athletica via photopin cc

photo credit: lululemon athletica via photopin cc

Transparency In the Pants, But Is There Transparency in Lululemon’s Future?

According to Brian Davis’s AdAge article, the Lulu pants scandal may cause a lasting impact on the brand. Clearly, the product recall has raised a lot of questions. Women are now taking a closer look at their yoga pants. When customers are paying such a price, quality is expected. The pants recall is embarrassing for the brand, just as it is embarrassing for customers (pun intended).

However: “Lululemon may have an opportunity to squeeze this lemon into LuluLemonade,” says Brian Davis in his article. This leads us to the fork in the road. By taking immediate action to fix the problem and being honest with customers, customers may respect the brand even more. Everyone makes mistakes, right? Lululemon is in the spotlight now, but it will only be so long before another brand’s scandal steals consumer attention. Davis also predicts that it would not be out of the ordinary to see the misfit pants sold on eBay to yogis who practice yoga in private.

Behind the Brand: Livin’ La Vida LuLu

I do not own any Lululemon, personally I am more of a Nike girl. But I am a runner, swimmer, dancer and outdoor enthusiast, so I decided to do a little more research on the Lulu brand. After reading the FastCompany article, Lululemon’s Cult of Selling, I am a little… unsettled?

What I have gathered is this: Lulu recruits yoga instructors to endorse their brand by wearing it and offering Lulu sponsored yoga classes. Hmm seems logical to me. Almost like celebrity endorsements if the most renowned yoga instructors from Beverly Hills are wearing the brand. This is where things get interesting: Lulu employees are referred to as “educators,” and required to go through intense self-actualization training which requires posting their goals on a public wall and listening to motivational recordings. Lulu sees this as an opportunity for educators to access a “learning library” and attend Landmark Forum seminars.

However, past Lulu employees seem to feel a different way. This FastCompany article had many comments from past [angry] Lulu employees, stating that these “educator” practices are what forced them to quit their job.

Why do I bring up the internal structure of Lulu? Good question!

Interested to see if and how these employee practices will change/modify in the coming months due to the “pants scandal.” Based on what I have read on the company culture, I am predicting a whole make-over for LuLu (inside and out!).

Sources: Lululemon Recalls Luon Pants, Expects Shortage | Video – ABC News

Flipsides: Could Lululemon Come Out Ahead After See-Through Yoga Pants Recall?

Lululemon’s Cult of Selling

This blog post is a part of a series for Integrated Marketing Communications at Elon University.

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