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Lululemon tries to recover from bad press

Published January 24, 2014 at 7:51 am

In a way, it’s fitting that Lululemon is well-known for it’s yoga pants, because the company is bending over backwards to repair its image after a PR flap.

Last year, the company had something of an image nightmare on its hands, with quality problems concerning its athletic gear compounded by public statements seemingly blame the customers who were wearing them. The combination of a poor product and an iffy response galled consumers, and led to precipitous drops in sales: its stock is currently trading at a two-year low.

While the economy as a whole is trudging towards recovery, Lululemon is struggling as a brand. Same store sales are dropping several percent, a dive that hasn’t happened to the company since the first and second quarters of 2009.

Chief Financial Officer John Currie has noted that this is a problem, and thinks that the solution lies in reframing the conversation back to one about his products’ inherent quality.

“You’ve heard the phrase ‘any PR is good PR.’ Well, we learned that that’s not always the case. I just want you to hear it from us: We’re taking it serious,” said Mr. Currie in his presentation to investors and analysts. “It’s incumbent upon us to turn the conversation around to be more positive again.”

The entire ordeal highlights one of the basic truisms of marketing: it’s rarely, if ever, the customer’s fault. Blaming them for a defect is unlikely to endear future consumers, even ones that had nothing to do with the original flap. Instead, companies should work to establish and maintain credibility, and make that their primary message.



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