Lululemon Wants Consumers to Trade in Dupes for the Real Thing 

Irrespective of inflation, consumers have consistently preferred dupes, counterfeits or private label (store) brands. And as this increasingly becomes a reality, especially as consumers have become more vocal about their frugal ways — some might even call it a frugal flex, brands and retailers have had to not only come to terms with the concept but also find a way to deal with it.

Lululemon is one the many brands affected by the trend, but has found a way to flip the conversation from alternatives to newfound loyalty. 

Dupes Are Not Fakes 

Dupes are economical substitutes for expensive products and are available at a fraction of the cost, making them desirable to consumers seeking alternatives. Fakes, however, are items designed to mimic high-end products down to the last detail, often featuring identical or very similar branding and logos. 

The goal of dupes is to provide an option for consumers who may not have the means to purchase expensive products. The purpose of fakes is to mislead consumers into believing they are purchasing an authentic product when they are not. 

See also: Dupe, Private Label, Call It What You Want, Consumers Want More  

Consumers Are Loud About Their Dupes 

Everyone loves a good deal, but depending on the person, the response to it varies depending on the individual. While some may keep it to themselves, others are more inclined to share the wealth. 

But TikTok has made the conversation around a good deal more open and accessible. And as the social media platform has made more consumers feel more comfortable talking about their finds, they’re also finding more creative ways to talk about it and make money off it on social media.  

Consider TikToker @kayli.boyle, who recently shared a hair tutorial featuring the Shark FlexStyle Air Drying & Styling System and captioned the video with the message “$200 compared to the $600 Dyson.” The video earned more than 1.4 million likes and attracted comments like “As a Dyson user, this appears to be far better.” 

Read also: Why TikTok’s ‘Deinfluencing’ Trend Is Just Another Form of Influence for Brands 

How Lululemon Is Changing the Dupes Narrative  

To date, the hashtag #lululemondupe has garnered over 180 million views on TikTok alone. Lululemon sees that as an opportunity to change the narrative by providing customers with an authentic product experience. 

On May 6 and 7, the athleisure retailer organized a dupe swap event at the Century City Mall in Los Angeles, aiming to draw in dupe aficionados and motivate them to trade their counterfeit products for a pair of black “Align High Rise Pant 25,” which is known to be a staple item in the Lululemon collection since 2015. 

Lululemon opted for the Century City Mall in LA to conduct its dupe exchange event since it is a hub for content production and creators. Furthermore, the brand has collaborated with a textile recycling firm to guarantee that the exchanged counterfeit pants are not disposed of in the garbage. 

However, the brand’s initiatives may have limited efficacy in addressing the issue. According to Alexander Chernev, a marketing professor at Northwestern University, there is little that Lululemon or any other brand can do to curtail the appeal of their replicas on social media. 

Chernev explained to CNN Business, “There are people who are able to inform others about what’s popular, influence this behavior and they can do so more quickly than the genuine product. Additionally, it’s difficult for brands to legally protect and monitor reproductions of their designs.” 

Lululemon’s Bid for Loyalty  

But while it may not be able to change the dupe narrative entirely, it can use the opportunity to convert those who participated in the event to Lululemon customers.  

Providing consumers the opportunity to try and test products, whether in-store or through events like Lululemon’s dupe exchange, can reduce returns and lead to more intentional and informed purchases. 

Lululemon intends to organize similar events in London, Shanghai and Seoul.