I had never been to lululemon athletica. However, David Polinchock, my retail experience partner in crime who is passionate about the notion of 'oneline', insisted that we visit while in SoHo during our retail experience tour. I'm so glad we did!
[See Customer Experience: In-Store & Online for the introduction to our series which I started detailing in Levi's Retail Experience and now this post.]
The SoHo lululemon store was a feast for the eyes: delicious colors, interesting juxtapositions, and whimsical sections filled with intense yet relevant information.
Take these clipboards on the wall. As you entered the store, they filled a section of wall immediately on the right-hand side. David pointed out that each clipboard represented information related to an individual store employee. Note the photos. Each clipboard captured an empolyee's 5 and 10 year goals. David and I spoke with a store associate who told us about her goals.
[On the lululemon website, you can hear from employees what lululemon means to them.]
In fact, you - as members of the lululemon community - are encouraged to set your own goals. You see, lululemon isn't just a store selling clothes. It's a place that is: "supportive, fashionable, empowering". Here's their blogpost on welcome to goal week.
[And a video of lululemon founder Chip Wilson on goal-setting.]
By the way, the "supportive, fashionable, empowering" quote comes from a recent article titled Health & happiness from the Charlotte Observer.
The article observes how lululemon, an experiential brand that successfully integrates the in-store and online experience, Charlotte store staff "began fanning out to make connections... They began and continue enthusiastically visiting yoga and Pilates classes and other active groups and events across the area, though not to practice heavy-handed salesmanship" but rather to talk culture and develop community. Although lululemon athletica, per its website, specializes in yoga-inspired athletic apparel, both store and website go beyond apparel to embrace community.
David pointed out to me that the store display units were on wheels. The reason: on Saturdays, the store offers a free yoga class at 10am. For more information, check out yoga info 101 with details on the different types of yoga offered and yoga studios in the neighborhood.
I found a kiosk [pictured here on the right] with brochures, information, contact information, etc. relating to the community in which this SoHo store operates.
Another interesting program is that of community ambassadors "unique individuals in our store communities who embody the lululemon lifestyle and live our culture." As described in the Charlotte Observer article, "...brand ambassadors ... receive a gift certificate for clothing and can regularly teach at the showroom in exchange for giving the company feedback on products." The benefit: more business for ambassadors and increased awareness of lululemon.
[This post, lululemon athletica video shoot post from Glamamom, gives you a taste for how the brand lives beyond the physical store.]
As you can see from these photos here, the store is visually engaging. Take a look at this Design Feedback forum board where store visitors can share feedback on the products they've tried out.
No surprise, you can also share product feedback online.
As Bruce Sanders from RIMtailing noted in his post titled Offer Neatness to Creative Shoppers, the overall store layout conveys a sense of friendliness.
In addition to its website, and blog, lululemon posts photos to Flickr. Images inspire [e.g., Imagine Running to Ethiopia; love your body], capture community moments [e.g., the 2010 lululemon Ambassador Summit] or show products in action [e.g., Dads Don't Stink].
Other interesting lululemon inspired findings:
- lululemon lab window displays - the result of a collaborative project with Emily Carr University of Art & Design.
- Bellevue Fashion Week 2010: lululemon athletica
In thinking over the lululemon athletica retail experience, I can't help but admire how well integrated all of the in-store and online elements are. I'm also reminded of other organizations I admire, Zappos, Fiskars with the Fiskateers Brand Ambassadors and Trader Joe's.
In a recent post titled Be a marketing specialist not a generalist, Joe Pulizzi refers to Higher Purpose Content Marketing. lululemon athletica strikes me as embodying higher purpose retailing.
Wouldn't it be amazing if more retailers could create high purpose retail experiences?