Lululemon | BCBusiness
While the company runs an R&D lab in Silicon Valley, don't expect a Lululemon smartwatch anytime soon
Perhaps put off by the wearable tech failures of companies like Nike, which discontinued FuelBand earlier this year, Brian Peterson of Lululemon’s product development arm (known as Whitespace) said Thursday that the company is approaching the wearables market with caution.
“A lot of the value that users are getting is fleeting,” he said during a panel at this week's GROW conference in Whistler. “Usability of the products tends to die after short periods of time.” Changes in consumer behaviour are “not necessarily long-lasting,” he says.
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The company’s brand centres around ideas of happiness, health and wellness—and their relationship with stretchy yoga pants—and according to Peterson, the wearable tech developed so far has fallen short of delivering behavioural changes in its users.
“We all have scales in our bathrooms, but do they really change behaviour?” asked Peterson. The company is more interested in products that can interpret data rather than just collect it, he said, adding that consumer trust in the data these devices display will precipitate their widespread adoption.
But the company did leave the conference’s tech entrepreneurs with something to shoot for. Lululemon has opened a small lab in San Francisco specifically geared toward interacting with Silicon Valley startups. Earlier in the day, Celeste Burgoyne, Lululemon's VP of international operations and guest experience, hinted at what the company is currently looking for, but it has more to do with shopping than wellness: rapid analytics and the ability to monitor customer behaviour to deliver “the right product to the right person at the right time.”
And smaller startups needn't feel outclassed. “You don’t need to be able to deploy in 278 stores,” she says. "Most of our internal innovation projects today are slow-starting and rapid once we learn and test."