Lululemon Has A Bold Strategy For Dealing With Dupes

Lululemon Has A Bold Strategy For Dealing With Dupes

Buying knockoff goods may carry a stigma for some consumers, but not Gen Zers. They are not only unbothered buying duplicates (AKA dupes) of brand-name goods, they have begun celebrating knockoffs on social media. Lululemon recently tested a strategy to beat this customer affinity for knockoffs of its apparel—by organizing an event where customers could trade in their dupes for the real deal.

Lululemon recently hosted a “Dupe Swap” at its location in the Century City Mall in Los Angeles, encouraging people who had lookalikes of their popular Align pants to trade them for the genuine article, Fast Company reported.

Events like Lululemon’s Dupe Swap stand to bring customers—possibly even some who are only familiar with the knockoff products—into the store and to ideally let them recognize the superiority of the branded product. Lululemon is pursuing this tact as popular TikTok influencers have promoted Lululemon lookalikes at much lower prices, sometimes getting hundreds of thousands of views.

As a strategy for dealing with dupes, many of the members on RetailWire’s BrainTrust of industry insiders saw it, in an online discussion last week, as a real original idea with legs—for a number of reasons.

“The ‘Dupe Swap’ was a genius move by Lululemon,” wrote Liza Amlani, principal at Retail Strategy Group. “The brand proved that there is more than 1 way to engage with a customer and it’s important to meet them how and where they want to shop. This strategy will no doubt convert customers and increase brand loyalty. Customers buy dupes because of the accessible price points. Customers need to understand WHY Luluemon is priced higher than dupes and getting them in stores to touch and feel product fit and quality will increase loyalty of the real thing. Dupes and knockoffs could never compare with an authentic brand because of quality and material.”

“What a bold initiative!” wrote Mark Price, chief data officer at CaringBridge. “To actually exchange dupes for the real thing conveys a sense of authenticity and commitment to delivering a superior product that exceeds consumer expectations. This effort will also pay off employee retention — such a move would make me proud of my company.”


“What I love about the ‘Dupe Swap’ strategy – and the incredible level of earned media attention this campaign is garnering from just one store hosting a swap event – is that Lululemon gets 100 percent of the brand name recognition,” wrote Jeff Hall, president of Second to None. “It’s Lulu against ‘knockoffs’ – not Coke vs. Pepsi. Now, take this campaign across the entire store footprint and let’s see the exponential traction and attention this campaign can create.”

Since dupes of products do not infringe on trademarks (like counterfeit goods), even mainstream outlets like Shape have pointed thrifty shoppers to the products as a way to enjoy Lululemon style without a Lululemon price tag., which has had its own controversies over how it does or does not use information about its marketplace sellers to inform its private-label designs, is a popular online destination for Lululemon lookalikes.

“Given the appetite for lower cost items, maybe there is another opportunity here,” wrote Mark Self, president and CEO of Vector Textiles. “Lululemon should introduce an ‘entry level’ brand, and engage these shoppers then move them up to the premium clothes.”

Lululemon could be experiencing a higher rate of knockoffs than other brands due to its popularity. The retailer was a standout success during the novel coronavirus pandemic, partly because of the drastically increased number of people working from home, leading to more customers purchasing athleisure wear.

That popularity is the reason some BrainTrust members cautioned that not every brand could succeed with this kind of event.

“A brand with strong customer emotional connection, like Lululemon, can pull off the dupe swap and win converts,” wrote Ricardo Belmar, retail transformation thought leader, advisor and strategist. “It’s a great idea, but brands that don’t have that strong emotional connection with consumers might not be able to pull it off. This is about overcoming a strong sense of value in making a purchase (without regard to brand) and turning that sense into an emotional connection that makes the consumer want to well-known (and pricier) brand.”

And for Mel Kleiman, president of Humetrics, it looked like a move that not even a brand with the loyalty of Lululemon should pursue.

“This is a big mistake for two reasons,” wrote Mr. Kleiman. “One, it gives even more exposure to the knock off product. Two, the knockoff may be as good as the original.”


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