Sunday, November 21, 2010

Oprah and Luluemon - Follow Up

Wow, so many comments on this topic! I love the debate. I'll be honest, I am not a talk show person so I hardly ever watch Oprah, daytime tv, or even Letterman or Kimmel for that matter. I know tons of women watch the show and I've obviously grossly underestimated her influence. As for being ageist, I'm 46 years old. I mean no disrespect to women older than me who are into fitness and rock Lululemon. I've seen many, many of them here in Orange County and I definitely want to be one of them ten and twenty years from now. I've read that when Lululemon was started back in 1998 it was aimed at women in their 30s so of course their customer's reach into their 40s and beyond. I was just thinking out loud that if you aren't already into fitness/yoga are you really going to seek out Lululemon pants because Oprah touted it? Especially $98 yoga pants. As for income issues, I think there is definitely a difference in the typical Lululemon customer in the US and Canada. I think the information I found about Lululemon's customer having an income of $85,000 was with respect to the US customer. Most people I see wearing Lululemon in the US are well-off women 30+ and they wear it primarily for fitness purposes and not casual wear. It is definitely seen as the upscale fitness brand by women in the US.  Lululemon deliberately positions it that way by putting it in expensive studios and gym chains (Equinox) and some of the most upscale malls in Southern California.  They also hand it out at celebrity events.  Additionally,  my view is probably skewed because I live in Orange County, CA one of the more affluent areas of the country. I think Lululemon may be more an all-around status brand in Canada for both casual and work out wear. (Canadian readers you can weigh in on this.)  As for affording Lululemon on a student's income, it can be done if you shop the markdown rack. I've bought new Lululemon tops for $14 and pants for $9 so you can build a decent Lululemon wardrobe if you are a patient shopper.  I have to agree with some of you that Oprah's influence may be temporary. We'll see. I'll definitely keep my eyes and ears open when I hit the stores from now on.  What is an interesting tangential observation is that Lululemon obviously embraced (and possibly courted) the Oprah recommendation. Oprah definitely has an audience that skews 35+ years old. Just a year or so ago, it was very obvious that Lululemon seemed to be courting a much younger customer and now it appears they have pulled back on that strategy.  I applaud them for that. I think it makes sense for them to appeal to women of all ages and offer a variety of designs that work for everyone. Now, if they would only get back to making the line consistent up to size twelve, offer some size fourteens again, embrace that women in those sizes are into fitness, too, and need good-looking functional technical wear.

27 comments:

naomi said...

i am an avid reader of your blog, and find it more useful for new product announcements, than some of the efforts that lululemon does itself.

i agree with your commentary on this. i'm not a fan of oprah, mostly because of the way women treat her word as if it's gospel.

but i will say that as a very active person, i've worked out in many different brands of clothing, and by far, find lulu's the most flattering, best fitting and overall best quality of workout wear.

bottom line - you get what you pay for, and while their items are pricey, i feel they are well worth it, for the amount of times i use them, but like you said, with a little bit of research, you can find items for bargain prices.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with your comments about students being able to only afford items onsale. I am sure i am not in the norm as i have a full time job and i am a full time student but i do pay bills at home including a car and can afford lulu without struggling. And in no way am i taking advantage of being a student living at home, i pay to live at home.

Anonymous said...

Lulu definitely wants young, thin customers. That's why they don't make clothing in larger sizes. If you are a large woman, you probably don't exercise. So why would Lulu want big women wearing their clothing? Wrecks the image. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Large women don't exercise? Hmmm.

I think I'll mention that fact to my friends (many of them Olympic Gold Medalists in sports as varying as rowing to basketball to hockey) who are larger than size 10 that they aren't really exercising.

What a stereotype.

Anonymous said...

Large women do exercise. Just because they are not thin does in no way make them lazy. I wear lulu and consider myself to be a bigger girl and a lulu 12 fits me perfectly and i use it as a motivator, if lulu made larger clothing im sure many women would use it as a motivator. And i do believe oprah would fit into lulu, a 12 especially in the relaxed fit and still pants run large.

RunningOnCoffee said...

Did a little google-research and found this slide show with some info on lulu's target audience, sort of, but it's a couple years old.

http://www.slideshare.net/sparmac/version-9

The embedded document does mention a household income of $75k+. The Consumer analysis is section 3.4 which starts on page 22.

I first learned of Lululemon maybe early 2006 in Health magazine; I saw a cool tank but was taken aback by the $50 price tag. I do not believe they had a web presence yet, but I found a deep v tank on ebay at a lower price. I was a full time grad student, living with my grad student fiance, working part time and babysitting on the side. Lululemon opened a store in my town I believe it was sometime during winter of 08-09 while I was an unpaid full time intern, working part time on the side, that I got my first piece from the store (loot). After finishing grad school in 2009, and working more (then getting a real job that fall) my lululemon habit really picked up, though I do try to limit myself!

I disagree with Anon/1:38 that said if you are a large woman you don't exercise. I have some friends who are very fit and run marathons (that's better than me!), but are just a little larger-framed, with bigger hips, that would probably fall into that 10-14 size range. While I am a lulu 6, before I got serious about running I was NOT fit when it came to cardiovascular health. I used to eat crap and couldn't walk up a flight of stairs without being winded. I have supper skinny friends who would probably be a lulu 2 or smaller, that couldn't run if their life depended on it. I do not think size alone is an indicator of fitness.

Anonymous said...

Watch Jim Cramer discuss the Lulu demographics. It's a 7-min long piece but well worth it, and it's from 2 months ago:

http://www.cnbc.com/id/39381316/Trading_the_Om_Depot

Nancy said...

I too read your blog daily, and I'm a 30 year old from Canada. I love Lululemon clothing for both casual wear (in fact I've worn my groove pants all day running around and doing errands) and I actually rarely wear these pants to work out in. I do love their crops for running + working out however.

Anonymous said...

I agree about the larger women being just as fit as some thinner women. I teach fitness classes to all shapes and sizes, and I think all women could benefit from the figure-flattering Lulu items. They really should go up to at LEAST a size 14.

I'm a Canadian 39 year old who lives in Lulu. Grocery shopping, lounging, going out, teaching fitness classes, working out...you name it. I just love the clothes. Flattering, comfortable, durable, sweat-wicking...perfect!!

I've been watching Oprah for the last 15 years at least. I usually tape the shows and depending on the topic, I watch them or delete them. I'm not a huge talk show watcher either, just Oprah and sometimes Ellen.

I think there are still many Canadians who haven't even heard of Lululemon. Here in Ontario, I would have to drive either 1.5 hours to one location, or 2+ hours to Toronto to even get to a store. If I'm sure something will fit me, I'll take a chance and order it online, but I hate the thought of something not fitting and the hassle of the return...

Thanks again LuluAddict for your blog. It's great to know in advance what's coming out so I can budget and plan accordingly!! :)

Anonymous said...

This is slightly off topic but since you mentioned it in your post, I thought I'd mention it.

On your blog as well as on facebook, I've noticed many comments stating that there's not enough size 12 clothing available but whenever I go to my stores in NorCal, all the great markdowns are "primarily" available only in size 10s and 12s. If there's a hot item, the only sizes left are usually size 12. Today, I was at my local store and they had a great selection of scoop necks ($29), CRBs ($19), Inner Strength Tanks ($34), and SS Swiftly ($39) but they were only available in size 10s and 12s. I wonder if it's a geography thing? What do you think?

houndlvr67 said...

I agree with Runningoncoffee...I have a few friends that are a size 2-4 that couldn't run from a rabid sloth. It's genetics people! Even when I was a collegiate rower doing intense 2X a day practices, I never wore below a size 10. After 2 kids I am now more of a 12, but a fit 12...

RunningOnCoffee said...

houndlvr- hahaha, a rabid sloth...I'm having a fun time picturing that.

Lacey said...

Larger women don't work out? I am a size 2 myself, but my sister in law is a size 12 and she works out 5x's as much as I do. In her case its just genetics--larger framed people run in her family, but she is in great shape! She goes to the gym almost every day, lifts weights, runs half marathons, eats extremely healthy, and a size 12 is just her size. I would say that thinking that large women don't work out is a pretty narrow minded thing to say.

I agree that lululemon is considered an upscale fitness brand in the US. Before I wore lululemon I used to make fun of my sister in laws for buying it all of the time because I thought they just bought it for the name brand and I thought they were wasting their money! BUT after my first pair of wunder unders, I have changed my mind and have become a lulu addict myself! Its all I wear to yoga because of the pure quality of the clothing. Its something I haven't found anywhere else!

Anonymous said...

I initially discovered Lululemon about 4 or 5 years ago from the Oprah show back when you could not order online, just in the store or by talking to the GEC. I have been hooked ever since.

shiver said...

My two cents regarding Lulu sizing - they don't make 14's because they're just not profitable. The clearance rack at my stores are always full of bigger sizes. 12's, 10's and some 8's. Part of me wishes I was still a 12 to take advantage of all the deals! The stock just doesn't move like it does for the smaller sizes. Simple supply and demand - Lulu makes clothes that make it the most money, and markdowns directly impact the bottom line. Its not a slam against larger people.

Also, I find a lot of their clothes run big, so tell your size 14 friends to try on the 12 grooves - its stretchy fabric and will look great.

Anonymous said...

Luluaddict - I read your blog daily. After reading this post and the previous, I realized that a lot of others who read this (minus your regular commentors) are total bitches!! Look at them fighting with eachother in the comments - how weird! Keep doing what you do and speaking your mind =)

Anonymous said...

I agree that this has gotten way too bitchy and out of hand...but I guess bitchiness can also be interpreted as what happens when two people are stubborn and strong minded and like to speak their mind and don't agree...

Anonymous said...

I'm located in Canada and the city I live in has 3 Lululemons (we have a metro population of roughly 930,000). A lot of people here wear Lulu stuff for casual wear and on any given day at the mall, I'd see at least 10+ remix hoodies or wrap of some sort. I remember going to the grocery store one night and seeing three different women all decked out head to toe in it (grooves, awareness wrap, scuba hoodie, etc).

I don't think it's seen as much of an upper end brand here. I just see it way too often to consider it as something that only the upper middle class could afford. Then again, if people can use it as casual wear and gym wear, we are getting twice as much wear out of it and in that case, it is pretty affordable.

Anonymous said...

I also dislike the tone this blog has taken lately, show a little respect for other posters even if you disgaree with them. I come here for reviews and info about products.

I am finding Lulu is becoming too popular and I do not want to look like everyone else.

The sizing of the new stuff is off, the Fleece Pullover is running 1 size smaller than usual and is overpriced for what it is. Quality is sucking on the tops, the Merino Pullover is a ripoff, I agree with the comment that was posted on this blog, it felt hot when you layer it over a breathable top, and it was pilling on the rack.

As for the age, look at the staff they are all young, yet I see older women buy there.

alison s said...

Might be just my schools, but Canadian university unofficial uniform seems to be grooves, a scuba, and ugg boots in winter!

Melissa said...

I live in Toronto and I agree with you on the different target groups for US and Canada. The Lulu stores here are more and more filled with mothers buying their kids (8, 9, 10,11,12) Lulu clothes. Sure Size 2 may fit them but do we really want to be wearing a tank that someone who is 9 wearing? I know there is the younger line but I've overhead these young girls say "I Love Lululemon, I have this and that and that too".

When I was that age, I would had to have saved up my money to buy things like that esp. at that price. As an adult working full time, I can afford it.

Anonymous said...

The older women are buying the clothes for themselves too, I see them in the fitting room trying on clothes.

Anonymous said...

I live in Ontario and have loved lulu for years.I actually took 4 days of from my Public service job to work the Hamilton Warehouse sale.Here is what I found....people love this brand so much every night they slept in lineups to get in 40 year old women with there teenagers..high school students grandparents you name it there is a huge market for lulu.Let me tell you I worked the racks we sold ALL the size 12's and 10's before anything else the last day all we had were some 4's and 6's so maybe lulu is missing something is the average woman not a size 10 or 12? strong muscular athletes like Olympians are not a 2.....and lulu seems to like to feature these athletes...if they really want to become number 1 they need to jump on the plus size market.

Glow said...

That's interesting that Lulu seems to have different markets in Canada and the USA. Lululemon is in many major malls around where I live (in Canada), and I see people of all ages wearing it on a daily basis. I don't really notice any special status attributed to it. However, the last time I visited the US, the city I visited only had one Lulu, and when I walked in with a full Lululemon outfit, the educator I saw look surprised and asked me if I worked at a Lulu elsewhere (I don't).
As for affording Lululemon on a university student's budget, I think I just don't really spend much on anything else. I don't go to bars, or even drink alcohol (it seems to get pricey for some of my friends I notice :P), I don't have a car, I don't even have an mp3 player, I don't often buy clothes elsewhere, and I have inexpensive hobbies. I suppose that all incidentally leaves me with more disposable income to spend at Lulu :). I don't really buy off the markdown rack either. It doesn't usually have my size even when it has an item that interests me. The rack is usually filled with the smallest and largest sizes (2s, 10s, 12s) so it's not often I find something that will fit me there.

Anonymous said...

I've never actually watched a whole episode of Oprah, but a friend posted this SNL parody of Oprah's favourite things on Facebook, and I thought you all might enjoy it.

http://kaycaskey.blogspot.com/2007/11/oprahs-favorite-things-snl-parody.html

Anonymous said...

I love Lulu. I definitely think that you need a bit of disposal income to buy Lulu on a regular basis. The first time I walked into the store I was an undergrad and thought that the prices and the clothing were ridiculous. Fast forward three years and I am a grad student who owns way too much Lululemon gear but loves the quality, the fit and the look!

LuluAddict said...

@anon 1:03 pm - That SNL parody was HILARIOUS! I love the woman who peed her pants.