With Research in Motion enduring its darkest days, Lululemon is the lone cool Canadian company on the world stage, but can it continue to win against the biggest names in sports?
What's remarkable isn't that a maker of women's exercise togs is worth more than those stalwarts, but how--and how quickly--it got there. Lululemon has risen from 17th to 7th in the past two years--and done so while disavowing its founding mission. As CEO Christine Day likes to say, this yogawear company is not actually a yogawear company.
Three years ago, Lululemon took aim at the US$800-million running apparel sector, seeing it not as a cutthroat and crowded space dominated by behemoths like Nike and Adidas, saw a chance to secure a new audience: Young, professional women serious about running and looking sharp doing it. Winning them over required small tweaks to Lululemon clothing, but larger ones to its marketing.
The payoff was swift. In running groups and races across North America, Lululemon tops, pants and accessories are now as common as Nike, New Balance, Adidas. And it's visible in Lulu's stock price, which has climbed 265 per cent in the two years, from $19 in June 2010 to $70 today.
Interbrand now values the Lululemon brand at $3.24 billion, a gain of 292% since 2010. The startling figure reflects the company's success at moving beyond its yoga roots and into new markets, says to Alfrey DuPuy, Interbrand's managing director.
With Research in Motion enduring its darkest days--though still holding down 4th on the Interbrand list--Lululemon is now the lone cool Canadian company on the world stage. The majority of its 180 stores are in the U.S. No surprise; that's where the brand's future lies. If its days of being just a yoga brand are now gone, it means Lulu's plan is working.