How Athleisure Brands Worked Out Strategies to Grow Communities and Retain Customers During a Difficult Time

woman wearing leisure wear

Even as the pandemic necessitated gym and workout studio shutdowns, many consumers vowed to use their new abundance of homebound downtime to get in better shape. For others, work from home meant an increased interest in a comfier wardrobe. And for athleisure brands like Fabletics, Lululemon, and Athleta, the changing demands of consumers definitely posed a challenge; but within those challenges was opportunity to offer customers more personalization than ever before. Athleisure brands that made the most of personalized product recommendations, rewards programs, and user-generated content during the pandemic ranked high on our list, while also managing to build customer loyalty during a historically difficult time.

5 Fabletics

This subscription-based athleisure company, the brainchild of actor Kate Hudson, has long been a favorite of those who love workout gear for its comfy, affordable options, including fan-favorite yoga pants. And as many consumers began to spend a lot more of their work-from-home days in those yoga pants, Fabletics ramped up its personalization options. The brand has always focused on personalization in fun ways, such as offering users a helpful quiz to determine exactly which styles would work best for different lifestyles and workout routines. But this year, Fabletics Men went one step further by using geo-location to help better prepare users for their outdoor workouts and offer deals for weather-appropriate workout gear.

43 Lululemon

Canadian sports apparel brand Lululemon has long been the gold standard for athleisure gear, offering dependable basics to exercise enthusiasts since 1998. But in 2020, Lululemon managed to increase the company’s brand value by a whopping 40 percent, thanks, in part, to a greater focus on identifying customer needs and using those insights to build a community. For example, as consumers began to increasingly express interest in workouts they could do at home while the pandemic kept most of us out of the gym, Lululemon reacted in kind, offering online challenges, such as Move and Stay Connected, along with daily streams from exercise influencers on social media platforms such as Instagram. Lululemon’s audience came together to exercise alongside the brand, and those who joined in likely won’t quickly forget that Lululemon stepped up to provide truly valuable content during a pretty rough time.

63 Athleta

Even as sales for its parent company, Gap, failed to meet expectations, Athleta, the brand’s athleisure line, saw its sales increase by 35%, which puts the brand on course to be worth $2 billion by 2023. So what’s Athleta’s secret? Well besides offering up some dependable, affordable athleticwear, the brand also offered serious opportunity for personalization this year via its app. The Athleta app now allows users to book socially distanced video chat appointments with retail associates in order to pick the perfect product for their lifestyle, as well as purchase directly in the appointment and have orders shipped automatically. The move has absolutely served the brand well: Athleta reports that virtual styling orders are generally three times higher even than the average in-store order.

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