Being the go-to name for wealthy yoga wives and trendy college 20-year-olds doesn’t leave much room for expansion. Lululemon has historically gone with the tide of its female core consumers to deliver products that are, in a word, expected.
But Lululemon followers on Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat got a surprise when on June 9 the brand released an up-close and ballsy new ad campaign. (See: male frontal pant shot with accompanying cupping movements, and a scene where a hand readjusts pairs of peanuts, lemons, eggs, tennis balls, baseballs… you get the gist) “No Adjustment Required,” the video concludes.
It’s all part of the brand’s push to capture more men as its customers — something industry followers have known, but perhaps hasn’t gotten a lot of consumer notice, until now. The earthy feminine Lulu went for the rogue approach by premiering “Anti Ball Crushing” Gear. (“ABC Gear” if you prefer.)
It seems Lululemon wants us to know she’s all grown up and has a bit of an edge — despite what its estranged Founder Chip Wilson said in a letter to the board of directors dated early June 2016, where he criticized the company’s leadership for its inability to innovate with the times.
Well check mate.
If you ask us, the new ABC campaign and product category is smart and bold. Men’s Outdoor Active Bottoms is a 1.7-million-dollar category year-to-date June 11, 2016, according to SSI Data.* Add to that the Men’s Yoga/Pilates Apparel category (less than $2 million year-to-date, but still substantial) and you have a space where Lululemon could potentially dominate, competing with Prana, The North Face and Icebreaker.
Since the ABC product release, its men’s ABC Pant ($128) has begun eating up some of that dough, although we’re not sure how many guys heard about the ball-saviors through social media, or if their wives and girlfriends did the purchasing.
Either way, some of the biggest names in the fitness industry are sporting the design. The pant is made with sweat-wicking Warpstreme fabric that has four-way stretch and looks like a sophisticated trouser. One reviewer wrote, “Feels like sweatpants at the office.”
During the Running and Fitness Event for Women on June 9, Equinox’s Vice President of Operations Griff Long sported the ABC Pant and took a minute out of his retailer discussion to praise the new Lulu technology (although he didn’t use the word “Ball Crushing,”). He also called out the company as being one of the top brands in today’s marketing bullpen— so we can assume he got a kick out of the cheeky branding.
Sure, the efforts to launch an obviously feminine brand into the man cave could have been done differently, but this marketing seemed to be a shot straight to the heart, or wherever guys do their thinking, to ensure there’s no confusion about Lululemon’s plans to make a name for itself in male apparel.
*SSI Data, powered by SportsOneSource, collects and analyzes POS data from more than 15,000 retail doors across nine channels of distribution. To learn more, call 303.997.7302 or email Solutions @ SportsOneSource.com
Photo and video courtesy Lululemon