Operational Excellence Drives Lululemon Athletica Toward Greater Global Brand Loyalty

Customer satisfaction is not enough. So said Stephen Cannon, President and CEO, Mercedes-Benz USA, during last year’s session, “Customer Experience Is the Brand: The Mercedes-Benz Case,” at Forrester’s Forum for Customer Experience Professionals East held in New York.  Cannon’s point was that Customer Experience is your brand.

For Lululemon Athletica, operational excellence is at the heart of its ongoing customer experience strategy as it builds greater brand loyalty around the world. Last week, CEO Laurent Potdevin discussed this growing phenomenon.

“Operational excellence and building a sustainable high-performance culture have been a strategic focus for the past couple of years,” he said. “I couldn't be more thrilled with the results we are seeing across all functions at lululemon. Specifically, and as it relates to supply chain, and proud of the team’s accomplishment in building a scalable foundation as we grow into a global iconic brand. There is still work to do, and yet, our accomplishments are reflected in the improved gross margin performance.”

Potdevin said the company experienced continued momentum in the first quarter.

“Our foundational work over the past year is paying off, and the earnings recovery we have planned for 2016 is taking shape,” he said. “Likewise, with inventories now back in line, we have removed this trend on the business, and are positioned to bring our innovation platform and our design vision to life powerfully, both in stores and online. You will see more holistic product launches in the months to come, as we deliver new styles and innovative fabrics across categories and genders.”

Global online sales increased 18% in the first quarter, on top of a 31% increase in the first quarter of last year, which is a penetration of nearly 20% of the total business.

“These results put us on track to achieve our long-term vision,” Potdevin said, noting the goal of doubling sales this year as opposed to 2015.

“As a reminder, these four strategies were, product innovation across current and new categories, reaching our full North American potential; building and leveraging a digital culture; and building our global footprint to international expansion,” he explained. “We see tremendous guest response in product innovation when we lead with innovation and articulate a unique functional point of view. We deliver our best work by never compromising on solving problems for athletes and yogis, while being focused on craftsmanship and design. Our ambassadors are local heroes and a unique source of inspiration. These individuals reflect our culture, share our core values, test our product to the limits, provide us with invariable feedbacks, and inspire us to create the best products for athletes and yogis.”

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