Retail loyalty: Building an exclusive community through dinner, clothing swaps and yoga pants
I was recently on a walk with my neighbor who mentioned she had just experienced a fun dinner at a Lululemon store. Yes, you read that right. As a loyal member of their rewards program, my friend was invited to an exclusive members-only soiree on the second floor of their Boston Newbury Street store.
But why would a brand known for its athletic clothing hold a dinner event at one of its stores? Lululemon has grasped a paramount truth: genuine retail loyalty, the kind that transcends mere transactions, comes by delivering on customers’ needs and aspirations. It’s not cultivated solely by offering discounts or accruing points. Developing loyalty with today’s young consumers means focusing on experiences and community.
Younger consumers yearn for more
In an age where online shopping can offer unparalleled convenience to consumers, shopping has evolved beyond a simple exchange of currency for goods as consumers yearn for more. Younger consumers are in pursuit of memorable moments, of forging connections and bonds that extend beyond the confines of a commercial transaction. According to the latest wave of the Magid Motivations study:
- Younger consumers’ values have changed in the past year (83% of Gen Z and 76% of Millennials)
- They are looking for new experiences (40% of Gen Z and 44% of Millennials)
- Almost half of them feel lonely (51% of Gen Z and 43% of Millennials)
- They find the shopping experience impersonal (28% of Gen Z and 35% of Millennials)
- And they want loyalty programs that surprises them with relevant rewards randomly and frequently (41% of Gen Z and 31% of Millennials)
These shifts in consumer values and motivations are a chance for businesses to rethink their marketing approach. Extending invitations to customers, urging them to immerse themselves in genuine, real-life situations, cultivates a palpable connection with your brand, consequently heightening the propensity for higher expenditures.
Lululemon is raising the retail loyalty standard
The members-only dinner my friend attended is only one of the multiple experiential marketing tactics Lululemon has deployed. It’s no secret that the past year has posed considerable challenges for the brand in countering the proliferation of the “dupe culture” that TikTok has viralized, with the hashtag #luludupes reaching millions of views. Lululemon fans were craving their products but settling for cheap alternatives.
So, what did Lululemon do? The company hosted a “Dupe Swap ” event at their store in Los Angeles’s Century City Mall, encouraging customers to bring their dupes in and trade them at no cost for the brand’s coveted Align leggings. This approach underscored Lululemon’s confidence in the superior quality of their products, in the hopes that consumers will try them and continue to choose the brand in the long run. Furthermore, it showcases the brand’s commitment to fostering an interconnected experience for their dedicated customer base. Those who purchase from Lululemon aren’t just purchasing a product, they’re gaining entry into an exclusive community that shares values, aspirations, and a passion for an active lifestyle.
The bottom line
From private dinners to huge events, Lululemon is curating immersive experiences that transcend the confines of traditional retail experiences. The dinner was not just an event, it was an embodiment of the brand’s dedication to its loyal supporters. Likewise, the “Dupe Swap” represents the long-term commitment to its distinctive culture and tightly-knit community. Both endeavors forge a sense of belonging and help the brand continue to build an ecosystem founded on genuine loyalty that transcends their athletic wear, allowing them to sustain their cultural relevance.
In order to win, companies will need to depart from the impersonal and transactional approach that once defined consumer-business interactions. Instead, they should take a page out of Lululemon’s marketing playbook and strive to create emotional connections, offer memorable experiences and foster a sense of community among their customers.