It’s been a rough year for Lululemon, the Vancouver-based yoga retailer. First there was mass recall of sheer yoga pants, now their Dallas store has gotten them back in the news for all the wrong reasons.
Let’s look at the problem and how Lululemon reacted.
From Business Insider:
“Lululemon Athletica is in hot water after one of its Dallas stores posted a sign appearing to mock a charity that helps battered women.
”We do partners yoga, not partners card,” the sign read, referring to the Family Place charity’s “Partners Card,” which costs $70 and offers deep discounts at 750 area stores — not including Lululemon — to help raise money for womens’ shelters…
Paige Flink, executive director of the charity, said she was offended by the sign at the store in Dallas’ NorthPark Center because she felt it was mocking the charity. She personally asked the store to remove it and management told her the store might remove it by Monday.”
This incident has caused quite an uproar on social media, with many people posting that they will never purchase from Lululemon again. An apology was posted to the Lululemon Athletica NorthPark Facebook page on Tuesday:
While an apology is nice, it’s important to note that the response came from Lululemon’s corporate headquarters in Vancouver, not from the Dallas store itself. You can see this from the tag produced by Facebook’s location enabling service. It has also been reported that the store’s manager has offered the employees of The Family Place free yoga, even though it can be noted here that the executive director of the Family Place made it clear that funding is the best way to help the charity.
So, what can you learn from Lululemon’s fiasco?
First: Think it over – while signs being witty are wonderful, and even signs that push the boundaries can work if that is appropriate for your audience, always remember not to make fun of other businesses, people or, in this case, charities.
Second: Act quickly – The store should have removed the sign as soon as they were aware of its offensive nature (though I’m not sure how they didn’t realize it was offensive prior to putting it up) not waited 3 days to remove the sign.
Third: Apologize (the right way) – Lululemon should have had the store manager apologize, not their corporate office. It makes it appear that the store manager does not take responsibility for what happened, when it was clearly a message created solely for their store. I would have also recommended a donation of monetary value – not yoga.
What do you think Lululemon could have done to handle the situation better?