Whether we want to accept it or not, the world is changing. In the past 10 years, America has gone from marketing through television commercials and billboards to marketing directly in our pockets through social media. While the pop-up and undesired marketing seems invasive, I’m talking about Social Media… the internet marketing that actually works.
Effective social media marketing is done through things like reviews with a hash tag, an Instagram picture of a new product, and a promotional tweet/photo/post aimed at only those who follow the brand. This way, the brand isn’t out there searching for people who might like it. It is simply existing for those who actually care enough about the brand to follow it or at least check up on it every once and a while.
As a 22-year-old female, I can honestly say I respond very well to this type of marketing, especially when it comes to the fitness industry. I love seeing what new fitness products my friends are using through pictures, reviews of apparel and local gyms through tweets, where my friends are taking fitness classes, and I search for those promotions that are only available to that specific online community.
I recently stumbled across an article on Mashable that laid out how hard some of these fitness oriented companies are working to be the front runners in social media, and their success is not going unnoticed. The leaders in athletic apparel are not just selling clothing and gear, they are selling their whole company and a lifestyle through social media.
Lululemon Athletica and Under Armour
While these 2 are direct competitors in the athletic apparel industry, they are actually taking 2 very different standpoints to social media and the goals they are trying to achieve through it. Below you’ll find some brief information about each company and their social media strategy.
Lululemon is a Canadian-made yoga brand that specializes in yoga apparel, yoga gear, and workout apparel in general. From my research, they have a presence on every social media site you could imagine but they aren’t just there to sell the brand. Through each social media site, Lululemon aims to inspire, educate, and challenge its customers to achieve a healthier version of themselves. According to the director of internet marketing, almost everything Lululemon posts is meant to encourage healthier lifestyles, create new fitness goals, or create conversation around the Lululemon community (Strategy online article).
Lululemon’s social media strategy is literally an extension of the brand’s philosophy. On Instagram, you’ll find pictures of yoga poses, classes, and new clothing items. On Twitter and Facebook, you’ll find health and fitness tips, quotes, self-mocking fitness humor, and motivational posts. Lululemon has also segmented its Facebook customer base by the customer’s nearest store. Through this segmentation, customers can discuss local fitness events, local store events, and even view job postings for positions from yoga instructors to store managers.
Under Armour is a college football star’s American-made brand. Unlike Lululemon’s yogi-centered focus, Under Armour positions itself as the gym apparel for everyone, with the trust of athletes everywhere. Through social media, Under Armour asks its fans to participate in the brand directly. The brand has hired interns through social media competitions and hosted high school competitions for new team gear because it wants it customers to feel like the brand is theirs. Under Armour also uses platforms such as Facebook and Youtube to showcase its athletes working out in the gear in hopes that after watching, you will be inspired to do the same.
On Instagram, Under Armour has created an account for all Under Armour customers. On this account they post motivational pictures, pictures of the gear, and provide promotional codes in order to encourage purchases. Under Armour has also recently added a new Instagram account for the women of Under Armour. Under this account, they post images of strong women working out in the clothing. Their campaign, “What’s Beautiful,” aims to help customers see that strong women are beautiful and that society’s views of beauty are changing to incorporate that.
Clearly, Lululemon and Under Armour have very different social media goals, but they are both using social media to gain brand awareness. Now what we really want to know, which one has a better marketing presence? To compare the 2 brands on the same scale, I used Hubspot’s Marketing Grader. Lululemon received an overall score of 93 since it has such a strong presence on its social media sites. The few areas that Lululemon could improve on include getting more people to tweet about the content and adding tags to its images. Despite its social media presence, Under Armour received an overall score of only 75. The company does not have a blog or an RSS feed, so this greatly hurt their score. By adding these 2 elements, customers would be able to follow the brand directly and the brand would receive more web traffic.
While these grades would lead one to believe that Lululemon has more going for it regarding social media, I don’t feel that is the case. Both companies have managed to successfully reach their target markets in very different ways. Lululemon aims to constantly inspire and go along the fitness journey with its customers, and Under Armour aims to make its customers and even whole high school teams part of its brand. Through inspirational posts and motivating tweets, both companies are redefining beauty and encouraging healthy lifestyles.
(Images sourced from Google)