VANCOUVER, Canada — Lululemon Athletica Inc. is vying for space on your bathroom shelf.
The upscale yogawear maker is preparing to launch a line of grooming products, including a deodorant and a dry shampoo, to cater to its fans’ post-workout needs. The foray into self-care, which Lululemon describes as a natural extension, seeks to combine its athletic credentials with the kind of cruelty- and irritant-free ingredients dear to its customers.
The company will roll out the assortment, which also comprises a lip balm and a facial moisturiser, online and in 50 stores in North America in June. Trials across the Chicago, Toronto and Orange County, California, markets convinced Lululemon there’s an opportunity, chief product officer Sun Choe told analysts during a day-long meeting in New York Wednesday.
With Lululemon exploring new avenues such as footwear, chief executive Calvin McDonald is putting his experience at global beauty chain Sephora to work. By focusing on the specific needs of people who frequently exercise and sweat, the company gains entry into the $90 billion US personal-care market without straying too far from its roots.
“It’s not like they’re selling perfume; they’re selling deodorant and shampoo, things that athletes and people who work out need,” says Bloomberg Intelligence senior analyst Poonam Goyal. “All those things are complementary and there’s huge margin opportunities.”
The company didn’t disclose prices, but Instagram posts from the testing period show the shampoo sold for C$34 ($25.) in large size and C$18 in gym size in Toronto, while the deodorant was marked at C$18 and C$12 in the two formats.
Early posts also featured a mask cleanser that’s no longer mentioned. Comments from the two dozen or so related posts under the #lululemonselfcare hashtag reflect excitement from aficionados, while a couple of customers said they regretted their purchase.
The company says it uses natural and synthetic ingredients while steering clear of components like parabens and sulfates. The “Anti-Stink” deodorant, for instance, is aluminum-free and uses a macadamia nut derivative to achieve a dry-touch feel without resorting to silicone. The US deodorant market alone is valued at $4.7 billion, according to market researcher Euromonitor International.
Avoiding chemicals and harsh ingredients will resonate with the company’s loyal and relatively price-immune customers, according to Sean Maharaj, managing director of the retail practice at consulting firm Aarete. While Lululemon will need to aggressively market the new line, he says its strong position in the athleisure market will give it an edge over the likes of Clinique and Tarte, which have both struggled to appeal to the fitness crowd.
“This is about leveraging the existing brand equity,” Maharaj says. “If Lululemon can’t parlay that equity here, then no one else can.”
By Sandrine Rastello; editors: Anne Riley Moffat, Robin Ajello and Lisa Wolfson.