Sweat, Style, and Success: How Lululemon Mastered Market Expansion


Allene Yue

Everyone knows the brand Lululemon — I mean, they’ve made quite the name for themselves (among both men and women) in the last decade. But in the past, Lululemon certainly wasn’t for everyone. In the very beginning, they had quite the focused target market — younger active women aspiring to live healthy lifestyles. And having a focus strategy (one that’s focused on a niche market) isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, it’s how most great companies first start out. But let’s explore what tactics Lululemon ensued to broaden their focus strategy without diluting their brand.

Customizing Campaigns the Right Way

The issue with starting off with a focus strategy is that companies have to be extra careful when attempting to broaden their target market or diversify their product line. Expand too quickly and into too irrelevant a market — you’ll lose your core customers. But by being intentional about broadening the scope of your customers or products, it’s actually not too hard to latch onto new customers while maintaining your loyal ones.

Lululemon was smart about where they were spending marketing dollars. They were well aware they had already captured the attention of women — so when they decided to expand, they customized all their initial campaign efforts to specifically appeal to men. For their male audiences, Lululemon had to answer the question, “What makes Lululemon clothing any better than athletic-wear from brands like Nike or Adidas?” And their answer was, “How Lululemon clothing makes you feel.”

Lululemon’s first TV campaign “Feel” was entirely centered on men, but it focused more on well-being than physical health. It was no longer just about the use for activewear, but how the quality and design of Lululemon’s activewear would make them feel. Rather than trying to appeal to general male audiences the way other athletic brands do, they found a way to connect with more niche male audiences that actually aligned with Lululemon’s own values of wellness and healthy living.

It’s proof that you can customize your marketing campaigns to specific segments without straying from your core values.


Moral of the story? If you’re trying to broaden your customer segments, you MUST consider these questions:

Would my company make sense for this new customer segment?

Luckily for Lululemon, they knew there was a market for men’s activewear, as evidenced by other successful activewear brands that target both men and women.

Would I lose my current customers if I expand my product line?

For a clothing company like Lululemon, which prides itself on high quality fabric and designs, having more product options available would only enhance their brand and give people a wider selection to choose from. Adding men’s clothing wouldn’t take away from women’s shopping experience, so long as any new products wouldn't introduce any drastic changes.

How will I appeal to this new segment without upsetting my core customers?

Lululemon did a great job of customizing their marketing campaigns toward men, while still staying true to their brand. Although the advertisements were clearly directed toward a male audience, the underlying messages of "feeling good in what you wear" and "the importance of well-being" were all ones that resonated well with their core customers as well. When it comes to segmentation and expansion, the key is remembering to be rational, prudent, and thoughtful.

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