Lululemon, the Canadian lifestyle brand known for its workout clothes and running gear, pulled 17% of its stock off the shelves this weekend after "realizing" the material is sheer to the point of being see-through, which is not the kind of transparency consumers crave. It announced the decision to the media in a press release targeting investors three days ago and to consumers in a blog post titled “A Letter to Our Guests.” They also added this FAQ to the Press Room on their site.
At first glance, it may seem like lululemon is reaching out and being transparent in their content marketing and brand messaging, which is the right place to be sheer. Their blog posts begins with, “At lululemon, our most important relationship is with our communities and our guests. We recently learned some information about some product that arrived in our stores and we wanted you to know right away.”
Dig just a bit deeper, and the communication fades.
The brand's Twitter feed still speaks to good times and happy days. Its Facebook page has plenty of posts from fans about the issue, but not a mention from the brand. One fan even calls out lululemon with an article from the Wall Street Journal that quotes the brand’s Taiwanese supplier as saying all shipments went through an approved certification process according to contract requirements. The response from lululemon? Crickets.
Since posting the “Letter to Our Guests,” which is a rather impersonal title for such a loved brand, nearly 85 people (so far) have left comments. According to blog comments on lululemon’s site, it sounds like transparent communication may not really be the company’s strong suit.
Blog Comment: “I write this out of love for lulu. I used to be a huge HUGE lulu fan. But people have been writing about this for awhile now and it’s disappointing to read that they “recently” learned about it.”
Blog Comment: "It’s great that you made a statement about the sheerness that some buyers can experience with some of your pants. But I think you made a mistake in saying that the only pants affected were a select group of black luon ones. I guess you have not been reading the comments on your product pages, but EVERY pair of pants has at least a few comments on the declining quality of material."
The brand did respond about 5 times to the various comments, in a very corporate, bland tone. Come on lululemon, we all know you’re going through a tough time. Use your words to remind us that you’re human.
The brand said it will offer refunds or exchanges to customers who bought the affected product after March 1 either online or in stores. A nice gesture, but how about letting your real fans know and posting this info where they are trying to connect with you in social media?