Lululemon is an active wear and lifestyle brand for women and men that have managed to achieve an almost cult-like status over the past few years, with shares trading at more than $50 each. SVP of global brand programs, Eric Petersen has managed to use his innovative leadership style and skills to guide this company through some difficult patches. As a result, this brand has been boosted tremendously.
When interviewed, Petersen stated, “The brand is always evolving. Entrepreneurship is a cornerstone of our business, which is very decentralized. Our store support center, which is effectively our headquarters, is just that: meant to support the stores. Right now, we have around 350 stores globally, of which most are larger stores, run by young entrepreneurs. We empower them, and that’s for a few reasons. One, because they’re young, they want to be entrepreneurs, and two, when we provide a platform we get the most creative ideas.”
He further mentioned, “Empowering people is twofold: it allows people to have these jobs in retail when no one would even let them create their own window, and they can also create their own merchandising plan. There’s a big upside for that because you effectively have a small business owner who can affect change with all of these things in their store. Sometimes they’ll make mistakes that aren’t necessarily great for the brand – and we’re okay with that. Because the opposite is they create this magic that we can quickly grab and share with everyone else, who will take those best practices and implement them in their own market.”
Another factor that contributed to Lululemon’s brand being boosted is the fact that employees are allowed to get creative when it comes to marketing. Unlike with many other companies, there is no such thing as one size fits all approach here. This has resulted in employees becoming extremely creative, which has in turn enabled them to receive a substantial amount of exposure from the press and social media. Petersen said, “We may think there is a really good way to display men’s underwear, and yet our stores come up with a much more clever way to do it that is better at educating and moves more product.”
Petersen mentioned that the company has extremely loyal and passionate clients, and this has been achieved by being as consistent as possible and actively looking for ways in which clients can be better served. Although there is now more competition in this particular market than there was when Lululemon started, he stated that it simply encourages employees to work harder and more efficiently to keep people educated about its offerings.
Although many companies out there are intimidated by competition, Petersen said, “It’s actually fun to have competition, it makes us perform better, work harder, and keeps us on the edge of our seat.” And there we have it – allowing employees to be actively creative, while also providing them with a measure of responsibility can help a brand soar to new heights.