I love fitness wear. My closet and drawers are packed full of fitness apparel from yoga pants to running skorts to dri-fit tanks. Full disclosure: I couldn’t make it through research for this blog without purchasing two tennis skirts. Under Armour and Lululemon, with market value at $9.2 billion and $8.5 billion respectively, are among the leaders in the fitness apparel industry with both having a heavy social media presence.
Under Armour has almost $3 million likes on Facebook, 350,000 followers on Twitter, 421,000 people following the company on Instagram, while Lululemon has close to 933,000 likes on Facebook, 621,000 followers on Twitter and almost 560,000 Instagram followers. Both companies have hundreds of YouTube videos. They are equally active in providing fitness advice and tips to fans of their brands.
Both are trying to diversify into different markets and are using social media to implement that strategy.
Under Amour’s all Facebook pages state “to make all athletes better through passion, design and the relentless pursuit of innovation.”
Known for its performance gear, Under Armour has typically appealed to hard-core athletes and male with the company’s emphasis early on in football and basketball. It introduced Under Armour Women in Facebook, YouTube and Twitter platforms and introduced its “What’s Beautiful” campaign targeted at female customer engagement.
Lululemon is also diversifying on social media but concentrating on men. Known primarily for its yoga clothes for women, Lululemon launched a Twitter account @lululemonmen and their main Facebook page has a cover photo of a male to help broaden its consumer base. Unlike Under Armour, Lululemon’s strategy in social media is more about a lifestyle than performance driven. “Creating components for people to live long, healthy and fun lives,” is the statement on Facebook.
The Canadian fitness company is endeavoring to have you buy into the Lululemon lifestyle with their recipes and lifestyle advice on social media channels.
Another difference between the two companies is their use of photos in social media channels. Under Armour uses photos and videos of top celebrity athlete in their social media platforms, while Lululemon has young, 20 to 30-something people on social media.
While Lululemon said it has grown all their social media organically, Under Armour took a more aggressive route with the purchase of MapMyFitness, soaring the fitness wear company into mobile app and wearable technology which integrates seamlessly into social media channels like Facebook and Twitter.
Both Under Armour and Lululemon are no strangers to public relation crisis and trying to rectify that crisis on social media. Under Armour’s high-end performance gear came under fire when the U.S. Olympic speed skating team blamed its uniform for its poor showing at the 2014 Olympics. Their communication team used bloggers and other social media sites to answer every question and didn’t place blame on the skaters. They also utilized their high-profile celebrity athletes to speak on social media channels about the uniform, stating the company had sent the Mach 39 uniform back to the research team and quickly changed the uniforms. Their use of social media helped defuse the situation with quick responses from trusted sources.
Lululemon is a different story. Lululemon’s co-founder Chip Wilson blamed “women’s fat thighs,” for the company’s product problems with its see-through pants. Lululemon did not respond quickly. In addition, Chip Wilson’s apology on YouTube was less than authentic, directing his apology to his employees and company, forgetting Lululemon’s loyal consumer base which were offended by the comments.
According to Under Armour, they are the brand for the next generation. While they don’t ignore the older crowd, but they really want to focus on 12- to 24-year-old athletes and active kids who want to get on the varsity football team, the 16-year-old who wants to play D1 volleyball. This demographic is on social media, so Under Armour needs to be there too.
For Lululemon, it’s a haven for a healthy, happy lifestyle, and that’s evident across its social platforms. Their goal with all of our social media channels is to inspire, engage and challenge. It’s about relationship-building for Lululemon. It’s also about creating a hub for health that’s more than just their products.
Under Armour and Lululemon’s strategy and demographics may differ, both companies know that social media is invaluable and necessary for maintaining and growing their customer base and increasing their sales.
“What’s Beautiful Camp Sweat Experience.” Under Armour. June 18, 2013. Retrieved June 27, 2014 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9goi0-vAaA&list=PL19E2659C3C2CA093
Dietrich, Gina. March 18, 2014. Social Media Today. “Five Things You Can Learn from the Under Armour Olympic Crisis. Retrieved June 26, 2014 from http://socialmediatoday.com/ginidietrich/2260751/five-things-you-can-learn-under-armour-olympics-crisis
Stroncek, Anne. December 16, 2013. GovDelivery. “Learning from Lululemon: Communications Do’s and Don’ts.” Retrieved June 26, 2014 from http://www.govdelivery.com/blog/2013/12/learning-from-lululemon-communication-dos-and-donts/.
“Lululemon Chairman, Chip Wilson’s Apology Called Worst Ever.” November 14, 2013. ABC News. Retrieved June 27, 2014 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4jIBlTIkSk
Saglimbeni, Phil. January 6, 2014. The Motley Fool. “Under Armour Will Shine in 2014.” Retrieved June 26, 2014 from http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/01/06/under-armour-will-shine-in-2014.aspx