Lulu Lemon, the athletic women’s apparel brand, began in Canada in 1988 and has since grown to a $3 Billion US market valuation. More impressive, Lulu has done all of this without engaging in mainstream marketing campaigns. Lulu’s brand ambassador program is receiving much of the credit for their stellar growth and earnings that continue to beat analyst estimates.
Brand ambassadors are yoga instructors, personal trainers and coaches who typify Lulu’s core demographic. Chosen ambassadors are given a $1,000 in Lulu apparel and, well… that’s about it. By sporting the easily identifiable logo, consumers who interact with the ambassadors take note. Just as demand for tight pants featuring a horse shoe logo builds to a dull roar, Lulu then opens a local store and style conscious fitness hobbyists pour in.
The power of identifying and investing in brand advocates may have most recently gained notoriety with Lulu Lemon but the concept is also being applied by an increasing number of ecommerce retailers. Inviting users to share their purchases, give reviews, and refer friends offers consumers a chance to identify themselves as potential advocates. Advocates are a contrast to often targeted ‘influencers’. Influencers are individuals who may have a broad audience, or network, but a much less targeted one. Advocates are unique because they reach very specific and like-minded demographics.
At Social Annex we are giving retailers tools to be a little more like Lulu Lemon, but with more powerful software and less stretchy pants.