Lululemon is trying to strengthen its international business but American athleisure doesn’t always translate abroad.

WHAT HAPPENED: Lululemon launched new ecommerce sites in China, Japan, South Korea, Germany and France as a way to localize the brand experience. Lululemon first expanded internationally in 2013 and now operates 95 stores throughout Europe and Asia.

WHY IT MATTERS:

  • While athleisure remains a craze in the U.S., the same can’t be said abroad. Health and wellness products continue to be top of mind in the U.S. and beyond. But the normalization of athleisure in American culture—especially among American women who are key to Lululemon’s success—does not exist on the same scale internationally. Although the U.S. influences fashion trends on a global scale, Lululemon would have taken off internationally already if demand for the trend was there. Curated product assortments and localized size runs won’t change this reality.
  • Compared to Nike or Adidas, who have seen success abroad, Lululemon doesn’t thrive on sports and competition. Even as Lululemon becomes more of a lifestyle brand, the athleticwear market remains hyper-competitive. While yoga is becoming more widely practiced, it still appeals to a niche audience that has many options to choose from.
  • Product assortment combined with a strategic marketing campaign is key to recruit local clients. Lululemon has used events like the Sweatlife Festival in London, Paris and Berlin to communicate the Lululemon ethos in international markets. While this is a good start, it will take more than a multi-day event to convince international shoppers that they need Lululemon in their lives. To do that, the brand should rely more on local ambassadors and cultural pillars to lead the charge.