Crisis Management: Lululemon

SUMMARY of the crisis

In March 2013, Lululemon started getting a bad reputation for their see-through leggings that fell short of the high quality that the brand is usually known for. After much criticism, Lululemon recalled the pants from the shelf and assured their customers that the product would be improved and back on the shelves within 90 days. The company then sent out a press release and an FAQ to provide a source for direct communication through the company and its affected costumers. Although the workout apparel company did a great job handling the crisis, in November of the same year, its co-founder, Chip Wilson, went on BloombergTV to do an interview and undid all the communication efforts of Lululemon’s PR team. He proceeded to blame women’s size and shape for the sheerness of the pants, rather than taking responsibility for the lower quality product. The public erupted with negative comments.

WHAT did the company do?

For the initial crisis regarding the see-through, sheer workout pants, Lululemon’s PR department worked quickly by responding on social media, promising a recall of the product, and an improvement of the technology. They also sent out a traditional and online press release and an FAQ for customer’s direct feedback. During the event, Lululemon remained cool and collected.

After Wilson made insensitive comments on an interview on BloombergTV, the PR team fumbled trying to find a way to recover after the new, influx of negative comments. They posted a video from YouTube to their Facebook page showing an upset Wilson as he apologized for the pain he’s caused to his employees; he didn’t even apologize to the customers he offended or for the lower quality of his product.

LESSONS Learned 

Lululemon should have screened and educated Wilson before his appearance on BloombergTV. Also, the PR team should not have waited days to reply to the comments of its customers. It’s important to respond quickly so that more mistakes and crises do not occur as a result of the silence. Furthermore, Lululemon should have owned up to its mistakes. The PR team should have gone over what Wilson was planning on saying on the video to make sure it was effective, or they should’ve had an individual to represent the company to issue the apology other than Wilson. It’s important to acknowledge the customers during a crisis because they are usually the individuals that are most affected by the incident.

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