Outgoing Lululemon CEO Christine Day just announced that the brand plans to open standalone men’s stores by 2016, according to Bloomberg.
It’s a savvy move: Menswear presents the yoga wear maker’s biggest opportunity for expansion.
The brand faces a huge challenge in reinventing itself for a male audience, said Brian Sozzi, chief equities strategist at Belus Capital and a contributor to Men’s Health.
“As it stands now, most men wouldn’t shop at Lululemon,” Sozzi said. “It will take careful planning to pull off a successful launch.”
Here are a few of Lululemon’s biggest challenges in reaching men:
1. The brand perception. “There is no sense of a man in current stores whatsoever, which is a huge turn-off,” Sozzi told us. “You have to go through the neon women’s clothing to get to the men’s section. There is no reason for men to go in stores right now.”
2. Few male employees. “I have never been helped by a male store associate at Lululemon and the brand seems to mostly attract women,” Sozzi said. “It’s seen as a very pro-female brand and that is intimidating to men.”
3. Feminine name and logo. “The name needs to be shortened, and the logo is an even bigger problem,” Sozzi told us. “The logo should look more rugged to appeal to men.”
4. Men don’t put a premium on looking good at the gym. “Most men are happy to wear a t-shirt and pair of old shorts to the gym,” Sozzi said. “They don’t see any need to put effort into their appearances there.”
5. The company only knows how to market toward women. “Nike and Under Armour have been using professional athletes to market to men for years and have a lot of that market,” Sozzi said. “
6. The clothes are really expensive. Women justify spending $98 on yoga pants because they use them for other purposes like running errands, Sozzi said. “Guys would only use this clothing for going to a gym, so it’s not as valuable to them.”
Lululemon has time to iron out its men’s strategy before stores open.
But its biggest obstacle will be undoing the perception that Lululemon is just for yoga aficionados.
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