Lessons from Lululemon's new flagship store
I took a trip to the largest Lululemon store in the country yesterday, the new 20,000-square-foot experiential space located in Chicago. And it was truly a customer experience that would have made Walt Disney proud.
My brother and one of his co-workers had already visited in the morning for a meeting at the restaurant inside (yes, they have a restaurant inside). While there, they were invited to a workout class in the evening at 6:00pm. So they brought me along for the return trip.
When we checked in at the concierge desk at 5:45pm, the employees working in the afternoon told us the class actually started at 5:30pm, and that we had missed it. They could have kindly apologized for the miscommunication, but as we turned to head back home, Chelsea, one of the employees working at the desk, caught us to try and make it right.
While she couldn't get us into the class, she offered to comp us into their Tune Studio beds for some meditation-esque cleansing. (Check out the link, the beds are pretty wild.) After choosing our frequency setting, we put on eye-masks and noise canceling headphones and laid on the beds. Using vibrations through the bed paired with specific noises and music, the experience is designed to help you detox the stress and anxiety from our your mind and body.
After the session, we actually felt pretty good. Good enough to start shopping at least. Forget your stereotypes, we were three guys, with no girls, shopping together at Lululemon. If you're a guy and scoffing at this, it's because you've clearly never worn a pair of Lulu shorts or pants. They are easily the most comfortable pair of pants I own, perfect for outdoor events or gamedays, and well worth the investment.
As we started to shop, we met David, one of the employees assisting shoppers in the men's section. He was the perfect balance of helpful and "let me know when you need me." By the time we checked out, he and my brother had already started following each other on Instagram. We learned all about his recent love affair with skiing, and he learned all about our businesses. What was a failed attempt to workout turned into an $800 combined spend, and some friendships to boot.
The icing on the cake as we left was meeting a new local Chicago beverage brand, handing out refreshing samples of hard kombucha. I didn't even know it existed, but it was delicious, and I appreciate their local start-up story.
It's easy to get caught up in the bells and whistles of the new Lululemon store. The second floor alone has three different studios to hold daily workout classes: one for meditation, one for yoga and one just for high-intensity interval training classes. And instead of a traditional fitting room, you can wear and test-run select Lulu gear during one of the workouts, free of charge. And that's not to mention the cafe, selling everything from nitro cold-brew and smoothies to chocolate-covered-bacon.
These days, customers are “looking for more than a transaction,” said Celeste Burgoyne, executive vice president of global guest innovation for Lululemon in the Americas, in an interview with CNBC. And we certainly got more than a transaction on our visit. While the bells and whistles originally got us in the door, it was the people working the operation that made us want to come back. My brother's co-worker said it best as we left, "I might just get the membership and come back every month, after that experience..."
Click here to read more about the new flagship store's operations.