Lululemon’s Align Dupe Swap: The Dupe Strategy Every Brand Should Duplicate

Did you see this in the news or all over social media? You know I like to hang out on TikTok, and there has been some serious marketing BUZZ lately about a particular fashion brand. 

The legging and athleticwear giant, Lululemon, faced their “competition” head-on with a recent event at the Los Angeles Century City Mall. Their offer? 

Bring in your legging dupes from bootleg manufacturers and retailers – and we’ll give you a pair of our premium Align Leggings – For FREE

See Lululemon’s post on TikTok HERE.

This was a pop-up event at the mall where they constructed an eye-catching temporary structure that you could probably see from space. They had bins for discarded leggings, mannequins with their leggings on display in every color and multiple sizes, chic dressing rooms, and more staff than I’ve ever seen in one of their brick-and-mortar stores. 

This is a genius product marketing strategy. Probably one of the best I’ve ever seen for product-based marketing. And here’s why:

This event exposed the hard truth that dupes can’t compare to the actual brand experience.

You don’t get to interact in person with a random Amazon seller. You don’t get the same concierge-style service as you get from THE Titan in the space. 

You don’t get the same feel or vibe of a brand from just the product listing as when you’re face-to-face with their team. You don’t get to rub elbows with other product or brand enthusiasts when you just “add to cart” online. 

Lululemon converted new online consumers into in-store consumers and newly christened advocates for their brand. GENIUS. 

  • Ray-Ban should do this. 
  • SKIMS should absolutely do this. 
  • EVERYBODY should be doing this. 

What Did Lululemon Get Out Of Their Knockout Strategy?

This wasn’t just an expensive stunt. With my near-decade of experience in digital marketing, I know this paid off in a big way. 

They Gained A New Client Base

Lululemon’s popup event converted bargain bin shoppers who were buying dupes online into high-end, luxury legging brand ambassadors. Because once you’re in love with your Louis Vuitton bag, you’re not going back to your LV chinese knock-off. 

This new piece of the market is going to be excited about the event and the new premium product they got for free. That means they’re going to talk about it. They’ll share on social media, tell their friends, buy a pair for their mom, and become a member of the Lulu-legion.

Word-of-mouth marketing is FREE. And it WORKS. This is one of the more powerful reasons why this strategy was such a knockout. I’m talking about it, and I wasn’t even there. 

You can replicate this, in your own way, with a strategy that’s aligned with your niche. How can you capture traffic, leads, and sales from consumers who are in your target market but haven’t taken the plunge? What offer will make them drop everything and run to your solution?

They Got To Analyze A Mountain Of Their Competitor’s Goods

If Lululemon had any questions about what the other guys were making, they all got answered. They could see, touch, try on, and otherwise take apart the products consumers were buying instead of theirs. How were they different? What were they made of? How did they fit? How do they perform?

You need to experience competitor goods whenever possible to stay competitive. What do they do well? Where could they improve? How can you bridge the gap?

They Were Able To Survey Their Customer Base In Real Time

Direct, immediate feedback is gold in any type of retail. They could learn why consumers were choosing dupes over the real thing. Was it based on store location, price, shipping costs, convenience, influencer recommendation, etc? 

When you can learn what the barriers are to a sale, you can FIX IT. Ask the clients you don’t close what kept them from pulling the trigger. If it’s something you can control, take it seriously and reevaluate your own product or services. 

Other Brand Examples & Similar Strategies

Extensive market research has revealed that 74% of consumers say that a branded experience increases the likelihood of making a purchase. (Forbes) Lululemon’s extreme example may be one of the most recent, but a few other campaigns are worth noting. 

That Time Gillette Sent Free Razors To 18-Year-Old Males

Truthfully, the razor company has been doing this since the 90s, but that should tell you just how effective their strategy really is. To help newly minted adults celebrate their coming-of-age, Gillette sends out a brand new razor. The long game is to encourage their new customer to purchase refills.

That Time Samsung Converted The Appel Community To Their Devices

No, that’s not misspelled. Appel is a small Netherlands town that was taken over by Samsung as they handed out free devices. The long game was a headline – “Appel Community Switches To Samsung.” Calling out the competition, almost by name, was essentially a very expensive pun but effective nonetheless. 

That Time Zappos Ambushed Google’s Photo App Promotion

When Google premiered its new photo app, it partnered with a cupcake truck. Everyone who took a picture with their new app got a free cupcake. Fun, playful, and memorable! Until Zappos showed up. 

The shoe company arrived in a walking box with a sign that said “Pay With Cupcake” – ideally, the one they just got for free from Google and Co. Consumers who had a cupcake to spare jumped in and received a shoebox from Zappos containing random items like backpacks, devices, shoes, etc. They stole the show, and Google wasn’t even mad about it. 

What To Do About It

Don’t ignore your competition or the dupes in your space. Get creative and playful with how you reference them or differentiate yourself from competitors. 

The Lululemon event just happened in May of 2023. Now is the time to be a part of the conversation. Ride the momentum into your own campaign ideas and let it inspire you!

For specific recommendations or end-to-end campaign management, book an intensive with me HERE.

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