What Black Yoga Pants Taught Me About Marketing


A few years ago I started wearing black yoga pants on a somewhat regular basis (read: everyday). I don’t know why, exactly. At that time I had never even attended a yoga class and I had a strict personal rule about no sweatpants in public.  

So why, all of the sudden, was I willing to strut about town in exercise clothes? I wore them to the grocery store, on dates, and even to work (casual Friday only, of course).

What I didn’t know then was that the yoga pant trend was a trickle down effect from Lululemon – a company that specialized in high-end athletic wear.

Without ever having heard of this company or knowing anything about them (full disclosure: I bought my yoga pants at Wal-Mart) I had unknowingly embraced the Lululemon philosophy of health and wellness as an everyday part of life – not something to be left in a silo, reserved for an hour at the gym.

Yoga pants became an integral part of my daily wardrobe – they became part of who I was. I loved that by wearing them I was signally to the rest of the world that I took my health and well being seriously. Just wearing yoga pants made me feel empowered and healthier.  

Eventually I even started doing yoga.

Do You Know Your Audience?

The marketing team behind Lululemon tapped into consumer’s desire for health and wellness, riding the holistic health wave of the 2010s. They skipped traditional advertising and instead focused on grassroots campaigns in communities using an Ambassador program.

By connecting with professional fitness instructors (yoga teachers, gym personnel) Lululemon was able to leverage word of mouth advertising and grow their business for a fraction of the more traditional campaigns done by competitors like Nike or Under Armor.   Each of the companies 1,500 ambassadors have been carefully vetted to ensure they represent the core values and mission of Lululemon.

In addition to their ambassador program, Lululemon gives each customer a reusable shopping bag that is decorated with dozens of motivation quotes – like a real-life Pinterest board.

People Want to Feel Included

This sense of inclusion adds value for consumers – they feel special, like they are part of an exclusive club. This sense of inclusion is extended to the company’s social media profiles. For example, Lulelmon’s official Instagram account is a mix of company posts and user generated content.

Lulemon’s marketing team understands who their audience is. They also understand what their audience values. In addition, they know where their audience hangs out – both online and in real life. The success of the company’s marketing can be seen in the staggering growth of Lululemon, which started as a single start up in 1998 and is now a publicly traded global company worth 8.8 billion in 2016 (Forbes, 2016).

When it comes to your creative business, do you know who your audience is? Do you know where to connect with them online?

Do you know what your audience needs? What is the problem you are going to solve for them? How are you going to make them feel included in your tribe?