Last month, a group of prominent men in the yoga scene had an online conversation talked about why there aren’t more men practicing yoga. There were a multitude of reasons, but a recurring theme was the popular perception of yoga as a women’s activity, endlessly promoted through the mainstream marketing of yoga.
As far as I can recall, none of the yoga dudes said anything about a lack of yoga menswear being a barrier to men practicing yoga.
Regardless, Lululemon has noticed that yoga, and their brand, is overly associated with women, which leaves out men, which is almost half of the world’s population, which means there’s an untapped market out there. So they’ve decided to do something about it.
First up, Bloomberg reports that Lululemon will be supplying the official uniforms for the fifth annual Wall Street Decathlon, taking place on July 28th with an estimated 173 bankers, traders and analysts. The ten-event challenge (with everything from football throws to bench pressing to an 800-meter run) is not a strictly “men only” event, as they’ve added a women’s category this year, but 86% of participants are men. And they’ll all be wearing Lululemon gear.
Lululemon first broke into the men’s scene by supplying uniforms for the US Men’s Beach Volleyball team in the 2012 Olympics. Following the Wall Street Decathlon, the brand is likely to have a presence at more men’s events, as they plan to open men’s only stores by 2016.
While the push to appeal to men is a new marketing tactic, it’s apparently unrelated to any specific new products: the brand has been making men’s clothing since the beginning, but these account for a small percentage of Lululemon’s sales (which are, of course, dominated by women’s black yoga pants). Business analysts are wondering how realistic these ambitious expansion plans are for a company with plummeting stock prices over the past few months (due in part to the transparent pants debacle), lawsuits filed by shareholders, and a CEO about to transition out. We’ll just have to wait and see!
Anyway, just for fun, let’s contrast the above banner image with Lululemon.com’s banner image for their women’s clothing line. It says everything about their gendered marketing objectives.