Lululemon’s acquisition of Mirror is next-level omnichannel retailing at its best


Lululemon acquisition of Mirror ticks all four boxes of what makes great omnichannel retail.

“Memorable, Shareable, Repeatable and Addictive”: these are the words former Sephora CEO Mary Beth Laughton used onstage at Shoptalk 2017 to describe great omnichannel retail experiences. At the time of his speech, Calvin McDonald was the CEO of Sephora Americas, so it’s no surprise that McDonald’s aspires to take that same mantra with him in his new role as CEO of Lululemon a few years later. .

To date and as we’ll see below, no better or truer word has ever been said on how to separate “tech for tech” (my quotes) from innovative ideas with legs.

Acquiring Mirror is clearly the latter, and wearing yoga pants on top of that.

Lululemon acquisition of Mirror, the home fitness startup that streams workouts through a mirror-like device for $ 500 million last week, is omnichannel retail gold. If Lululemon was not already the standard by which many retail brands should be judged, he should certainly be in that place now.

As evidenced by last year, when Lululemon started opening new, more experiential store formats, filled with yoga studios, cafes and restaurants, Lululemon has always understood that her brand goes far beyond the products she sells on her shelves. Yoga pants, sports bras, lined workout shorts, etc. are all great products, but the products are also fleeting.

The real product is the Lululemon brand or the experience itself. Brands are what stands the test of time, not the latest products or fashions, a fact that is still lost on so many specialty retailers and department stores these days. Look at everything Lululemon has been up to lately, and it quickly feels like Lululemon is becoming to health-conscious adults what Disneyland is to children.

Mirror is just an extension of the theme, with the optional value of better understanding and getting started in the ever-changing world of 21st century commerce.

The mirror, while intriguing already for how it broke new ground in the home and personal training space, is even cooler than it looks in the rear view. In the unknown future, where stores aren’t open or are shells of themselves, and at a time when new store building plans probably aren’t a good idea either, Mirror is giving Lululemon the possibility of investing in a future without stores, knowing full well that stores will come back at some point as well.

Think about it: how many retailers can make such a claim?

Right now, most retailers are just trying to stay afloat and figure out how to open outdated business models with masks, plexiglass, and shallow security procedures that make it feel as safe as taking a visit. of three hours with Gilligan and a portly skipper.

Lululemon, on the other hand, is going against the grain and investing $ 500 million in a concept that answers an important question: “What if stores don’t exist anymore?” “

Or, put it another way, Mirror today is the equivalent of a desktop e-commerce experiment in the late 90s. The substrate of the physical mirror, while seemingly important now, actually matters little. long-term. It’s the understanding of how software works regardless of the physical substrate and how it might evolve that matters most (think mobile phones, mobile apps, streaming TV devices, etc.).

Mirror gives Lululemon a front row seat, along with its own standalone platform, within which to define the next frontiers in omnichannel social commerce.

First, people are stuck at home, so training at home is now more of a repeatable routine than ever. Peloton, for example, has already shown “there is a over there” (my quotes). Mirror, similarly, puts Lululemon ahead of consumers, if not every day, at least several times a week.

Second, the gyms, yoga studios, and fitness are all incredibly social Activities. Crossfit, for example, and despite its negative headlines in the media recently, has made millions of people walk on the social and addictive nature of group workouts. Like a Fabulous article by NBC News details, group workouts in general generate peer pressure, competitiveness and support among those who participate, which studies show also provide key health benefits compared to training alone.

Mirror virtually approximates group physical activity. Users select their workouts from a myriad of workout options. They can choose everything from one-on-one personal training sessions to weekly live lessons, which, according to the Mirror website, also offer “real-time commentary and personal commentary” – the two things every home fitness junkie needs when making that 100th burpee.

Third, Mirror also has the potential to be addictive. Mirror tracks and records the progress of its clients, so the more people use it, the better informed it is to help people move forward and the more intimately its users become linked to it over time. It’s like Lars and the real girl or Joaquin Phoenix in Her, only this time the relationship is not with a doll or a telephone, but a fabulous mirror, mirror on the wall.

Fourth, and as the thousands upon thousands of smelly social media posts of every Peloton workout attest, there is just something about a great workout that stays in people’s consciousness. . Good workouts create bursts of endorphins, and, good or bad, endorphin rushes have a way of becoming memorable. Like a big golf shot or a PR (personal best) in the mile, the moment never goes away.

By acquiring Mirror, Lululemon essentially fits into several of these types of moments. Lululemon has always possessed the endorphins surge of a great store trial, but now he can have the entire shebang’s try on, workout, and memory all at once, without the consumer ever having to leave. his house at all. Even trials and returns could be free!

“But, it is only a mirror”, will say the detractors. “And, who wants to shell out the high price of $ 1,495 for one too?

Both are valid points, but they miss the most important point.

It is not about the mirror.

For Lululemon, it’s about practicing omnichannel muscle memory further down the learning curve than anyone else. While the price may seem expensive, that’s exactly what the product is selling for today, not to mention the extra revenue and rigidity that could come with it.

God knows Lululemon also has clients who can afford it.

And, by jumping on the Lululemon / Mirror train, those first customers will also be the same customers who will end up subsidizing Lululemon’s research into what not only does home fitness look like but also what on-demand commerce looks like by. way of a mirror, television, telephone or even something Logan’s Race could look like for years to come.

Retailers cannot just cross their fingers and hope to learn how to sell products from these platforms. It takes a willingness to work hard and scratch your knees on the exercise mat to progress along the way. Hope is what pushed the retail industry behind Amazon’s Eight Bulletins for decades, and the industry could be on the verge of making the same mistake twice.

Not Lululemon, however.

Luckily, Lululemon seems ready to sweat the tough stuff and take the business to where the hell its core customers need it most.

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