Friday, November 18, 2011

Peace, Love and Big Bucks

Lululemon is coming under fire for its latest bag which features a quote from Ayn Rand, the author of Atlas Shrugged, described as a favourite among free market capitalists. It's a book which claims that self interest is the path to a better world, a true right wing lover's book, in sharp contrast to the holistic hipster chic attitude of the yoga-loving store.

Known for such spiritual tidbits as 'Friends are more important than money' and other trendy new age sayings for whole wheat goodness, many people are shocked or angered by this quote from Ayn Rand. And yet, does it really surprise anyone that a company which charges $80 for seaweed pants is all about making money?

Time to wake up and smell the herbal shade tree green tea, folks. The feel good earthiness of Lululemon is nothing more than a marketing strategy and not a life philosophy. Of course, smart marketing and brand recognition is about building a philosophy around a product and selling a lifestyle to go with it. That's why the Lululemon girl is the one who eats right, carries her own tea tumbler with her to the bus stop on the way to yoga after work, looking cute and flexible in her stretchy pants.

The brand may be selling you this idea of a responsible, fair, ideal and healthy lifestyle with spiritual benefits. The fact remains that it is a brand and the only purpose of its existence is to sell you goods and make a profit. It hardly matters that the business model it's based on has nothing to do with the feel good clap trap that it espouses on its bags and T-shirts. The company probably comes a lot closer to the Ayn Rand mentality and charging ahead with whatever means allows it to sell you more hyped up goods.

Even its positive messaging about setting goals for the future is suspiciously similar to the can-do capitalist mentality. Ultimately, it's all about getting what you want and what the company wants is more sales.

Like any capitalist model, Lululemon succeeds because it gives consumers what they want. People actually enjoy the brand's products. But maybe they should keep it in perspective that this is ultimately a company and that it shouldn't take it or themselves so seriously. Buy the pants if you like the pants. Don't buy the pants and tell people to live spiritually through them.

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