How lululemon Gained +456K Instagram Followers in 1 Year
Purpose of This Research
To identify the content and marketing strategy that contributed to the Instagram growth of lululemon:
- Assess key growth periods
- Identify factors behind successful growth
- Highlight applicable tactics and content opportunities
Why Examine lululemon For Instagram Growth Insights?
- Overall Growth. lululemon has grown its Instagram following by +11% in just one year, that’s +456K new followers.
- Active Followers. lululemon’s Reels see an average of 554K views and all posts see an average of 16K engagements.
- Media Mix. lululemon takes an active approach to diversify its media content with Reels, Carousels and Images.
- Organic & Paid. While their growth tactics are predominantly organic, they have incorporated paid growth tactics as well.
Applying Trends & Tactics
Competitor Trends & Tactics:
- 63% of Lululemon’s content was Reels, followed by Carousels (34%) and single images with the least amount of posts (3%).
- Content Creator Reels drove the most views (18M), while User-Generated Content drove the most engagements (384K).
- Lululemon’s top-performing posting tactic featured the use of collaboration posts where the content gets featured on 2 profiles.
- Partnerships are king for Lululemon. Months with high growth saw top-performing posts in the form of collaboration.
- March 2023 saw a correlation between Instagram ad spend and follower growth. A feed post was boosted for $1.7K.
- Lululemon spent $2.9M from April 2022 to March 2023 on Instagram. Story ads saw 78% of the ad spend.
- Top feed ads build frequency across ads. Instead of increasing the budget on one ad, they replicate outfits across creatives.
- Make sure to find balance between Reels and Carousel posts. If you want to post images, post them as a carousel “dump”.
- Real people drive more views and engagements. Work with informed content creators to make realistic content.
- Whenever working with ambassadors or creators, make it official with the collaboration feature to expand reach.
- Be tailored but organic. Work with creators for UGC & brands for unique collabs whose content fits your current aesthetic.
- Lululemon boosted a Reel (5.8M views) that featured a real mom sharing the benefits of their new bag for parents.
- If advertising on Instagram, go where the eyes are. About 500M people use stories daily.
- Repeat product across ads. Use a product in editorial assets, then again in ecomm ad assets to naturally increase frequency.
From April 2022 to April 2023, lululemon has gained 456K Instagram followers, +11% YoY.
Monthly Gained Followers
April 2022 - March 2023
lululemon saw MoM spikes in follower growth in May 2022, October 2022, and March 2023.
In absolute values, May 2022 (+69K) and March 2023 (+49K) saw the highest monthly gain in followers.
63% of lululemon’s posts were Reels (90), followed by Carousels (49) and Images (4).
Content Creator Reels, Outfit Transitions and Company Content generated the most views and engagements on video content.
Top Reel Content Categories
Top Reels use a mixture of creator partnerships and native features.
- lululemon works with other creators to build content that features their products but may not be on brand for them to produce themselves. In this post with comedian Daniel Labelle, he uses slapstick comedy to show how powerful their clothing is.
- Using video transitions is a big trend for Reels. In outfit transitions, lululemon produced high-quality versions with partners like NBA’s Jordan Clarkson. In this example, the camera pans up and when it pans back down Jordan is in a new outfit.
- Lululemon makes company announcements like hiring or new features through Instagram, using text-on-screen to appeal to viewers.
UGC, Social Justice Highlights and Ambassador Posts generated the top engagement for Carousel and Image content.
Top Carousel & Image Content Categories
People-forward content leads the top-performing image content.
- Followers enjoy real people of different sizes wearing lululemon. Carousels show different people wearing similar products and they encourage followers to tag them in #thesweatlife.
- lululemon does a good job of representing what they care about. Followers never question where they stand on social justice problems, giving them free rein to opt-in if they are aligned politically.
- Followers are excited and engaged with lululemon Ambassadors, they love seeing them rep the same products they can buy themselves while in action.
Social Justice Highlights
Partner Posts, ‘Link in Bio’ features and Question posts generated the highest average views.
Posts featuring Partners, ‘Tap to Shop’ and ‘Link in Bio’ generated the highest average engagement.
Common Tactic Elements
- Expand reach with partner collaboration posts, whether with official ambassador content or one-off influencer collaborations. This enables the post to be made from both lululemon’s account as well as the creator’s account.
- Make products accessible to shop directly from Instagram. Content that used “Tap to Shop” in the caption wasn’t featured in video content but saw the second most average engagement for all other posts.
Common Tactic Elements
- lululemon actively encourages its followers to use the link in their bio to directly visit their site to shop products featured in carousels. This tactic doesn’t perform as well as Tap to Shop because it redirects viewers off Instagram.
- Use questions as a way to give followers the chance to engage. Content is used to answer the question themselves and then offer it to the viewer.
- Tease anticipated limited edition content through exclusive channels such as access through Apple and Android apps.
May 2022 saw the introduction of Olympic Ambassadors Tara Davis-Woodhall and Hunter Woodhall to the lululemon roster.
May 2022 Partnership Announcement
5 posts were made on May 31, 2022 to announce the partnership.
- Use a joint posting strategy to announce ambassadors. 5 posts were made across three accounts. This generated 1.2M views and 169K engagements in just one day. Ambassadors tag lululemon in their Instagram bios.
- Use a mix of content formats. Editorial content like this and casual content filmed with an iPhone like this was used in conjunction to make the launch relatable but professional.
October 2022 saw 3.8M views and 192K engagements on content. A partner post, Mirror reel and membership program led viewership.
October 2022 Reel Focus
Reels expanded reach to new viewers on Instagram in October 2022.
- Get creative with partnership posts. This video, with 547K views in October 2022, featured a creative reel of NBA’s Jordan Clarkson in his lululemon picks.
- Consult content creators for organic content. This video features a creator sharing things about her Mirror that “don’t make sense” while listing positive attributes of the product.
- Sometimes simple is better. To launch a free membership program, a team member hopped on Reels to share the benefits in an organic talking-to-camera style.
Mirror Studio Reel
Membership Program Launch
March 2023 saw 50% of posts collaboration posts featuring content creators, ambassadors, brands or trainers.
March 2023 Collaboration Focus
March 2023 saw partnership highlights from athletes to brands.
- If it works, show it. lululemon used partner posts to share their gear in action from two different disciplines. This shows their gear in use for high-intensity training, while this shows another ambassador wearing it while break dancing.
- Venture out to like-minded brands. In March 2023, lululemon and Madhappy launched a line together. The two brands are different but have audience overlap and synergies, resulting in unique release assets and products.
Madhappy Collaboration Post
From April 2022 to March 2023, lululemon spent $2.9M on Instagram ads in the United States.
April 2022, November 2022 and March 2023 are the only months that saw boosted organic feed posts.
April 2022 saw two sponsored feed posts at $10.8K invested, seeing 1.3M impressions.
This $3.8K ad is an image featuring ex-pro basketball player turned golfer J.R. Smith in Lululemon golf apparel.
This $7K ad is a UGC image featuring model Brittany Mason in tennis gear but advertised as functional wear.
November 2022 saw one sponsored feed post at $22K invested, garnering 2.8M impressions.
This $22K ad features a quick flip through of outfits.
It encourages viewers to take a random screenshot to decide what to add on their wishlist for the holidays.
March 2023 saw one sponsored feed post with a $1.7K investment and 250K impressions.
March 2023 Feed Post Promotion
This promoted post saw a total of 5.8M views and 59K engagements.
- Create content with a purpose. This is a creator-led video by @yourgirlneens that is specifically targeted to parents using the opening text on screen “This product hack is for the parents”.
- Allocate content to serve functional purposes. This video is important because it specifically showcases how the product works, how it can be adapted and what it realistically carries.
- Work with creators to reach real people. Using a creator for this content as opposed to an editorial approach is more relatable because the creator is sharing their own testimonial of how they use it in their own daily lives.
October 2022, which experienced +41% MoM follower growth, saw the top overall ad spend of $502K.
In October 2022, lululemon put 78% of the budget toward Story ads, followed by Photo (13%), Video (5%) and Carousel (4%) ads.
October 2022 Top Ad Creatives
Top ads use photo over video content with a community approach.
Spend is a directional approximation and does not include retargeting, or behavioural targeting.
Digital Advertising Data Source Caveat | Instagram ad spend only available for the United States | Instagram Story Creatives not available.
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