Thursday, June 21, 2012

Lululemon - The Pretentious Perception of Fitness

There are brand snobs and snobby brands. Brand snobs refer to consumers who are stubbornly loyal to a particular name brand because of perceived or real benefits. Snobby brands are brands that pride themselves on exclusivity and popularity.

Depending on your perceptions, some snobby brands might be Tiffany’s, Abercrombie, Gucci or Louis Vuitton. Currently my least favorite snobby brand has to be Lululemon.

Look, it’s not that fit people don’t wear Lululemon, it’s that Lululemon isn’t for fit people. Their value proposition rests on, “does my ass look good in these capris?” rather than, “Does this meet my athletic needs?” While I’ll admit that a padded sports bra saves a little energy during chest-to-bar pull-ups, I’d venture a guess that <1% of people sporting the gear can even do a chest-to-bar pull-up.

In my day job where I convince people I know things about branding, there are a variety of ways to talk about a brand’s positioning, or its identity in the market. One way is to look at the benefits it provides consumers, the emotional connections consumers feel with the brand, and personality traits that describe the brand. Those components boil down to a single phrase that captures the essence of the brand.

Because my despise for Lululemon is so great, and apparently because I have too much time on my hands, I worked out a current brand positioning for Lululemon as a psychological exercise to understand my hatred. Then it all made sense. I introduce to you:


  Lululemon – The pretentious perception of fitness

It's so clear now. Of COURSE I hate Lululemon. Lulu is not just a snobby brand. Personified, it’s the archetypal “most popular girl in school” with a name to match. Since elementary school, my mom always told me to just ignore "those girls." But the record shows that’s never been my strong suit. 

Speaking of "those girls," it’s been a while since I took a stroll down Sorostitution Lane, but I’d be willing to bet Greek Row is teeming with bitchy girls doing yoga once a week in their new Hot But Not Tanks and Velo Vixen Shorts (actual Lulu merchandise names), loudly wondering but not actually caring if the yogurt at Smoothie King comes from skinny grass-fed cows.



  1. I totally agree with your perception... I went to my first Lululemon store and was just kind of appalled and put off by all of it.

    That being said, I have a well endowed friend who swears by their Ta-ta-tamer. Yes, still an actual brand name. *sigh*

  2. shut up and eat your donuts

  3. 10 points to Gryffindor, I couldn’t agree more.

  4. The Quiet Indian: American Yoga, India, and The New Orientalism