Lululemon Ramps Up Commitment To Social Impact With New Initiative

VANCOUVER, Canada — Lululemon is drilling deeper into its commitment to social impact with the launch of a Centre for Social Impact, which it says will disrupt inequity in wellbeing through movement, mindfulness, and advocacy. 

Through the Centre, the activewear giant plans to invest in removing barriers through philanthropy, research and advocacy to support physical, mental and social wellbeing across its local and global communities. It argues that the centre will unify and amplify its existing social impact programs, as well as innovate new programs and wellbeing tools with the goal to positively impact more than 10 million people globally by 2025.

“At Lululemon, we believe everyone has the right to be well and we know the path to wellbeing is possible when tools, support, and resources are accessible to all,” said Esther Speck, lululemon Vice President of Global Sustainability and Social Impact.

 “Through Lululemon’s Centre for Social Impact, we will leverage our expertise, resources, and communities to advocate for the wellbeing of those most impacted by systemic inequity around the world.”

The centre is the latest in a growing line of moves Lululemon has made over the past 12 months, in order to become more sustainable and ethical.

Lululemon Ramps Up Commitment To Social Impact With New Initiative
Image: Lululemon Like New

Last November, the global powerhouse released its first-ever Impact Agenda, outlining 12 commitments to address a range of global issues including diversity, inclusion, mental wellbeing, circularity and climate change. 

The NASDAQ-listed company detailed its long-term strategy to become a more sustainable and equitable business, to minimise its environmental impact and accelerate positive change both internally and externally.

The brand also listed ambitious environmental targets, including to source 100% renewable electricity to power business operations by 2021, reduce carbon emissions by 60% by 2030, and halve the use of single-use plastic packaging and freshwater to manufacture products by 2025.

Then in April of this year, it announced it had started testing a resale program called Lululemon Like New, in which customers in selected locations in the US, were able to trade in like-new Lululemon products and receive a $5 to $25 gift card in return. 

At the time, the brand said it would be looking to roll out the initiative in further locations if customer feedback proved positive.

The release of mushroom-based products and a partnership with LanzaTech — a biotech startup that turns pollution into ethanol for use in fuel or chemicals, which lululemon has been leveraging to create fabric made from recycled carbon emissions — also point to the company’s growing commitment to become more conscious.

The launch of the centre, however, marks an important milestone in its progress across its Impact Agenda, said the company. 

Lululemon Ramps Up Commitment To Social Impact With New Initiative
Image: Lululemon Earth Dye

In particular, it is hoped that it will unify its wellbeing initiatives to achieve its Impact Agenda goals, which include providing access to wellbeing tools for more than 10 million people by 2025 and investing at least $75 million to advance equity in wellbeing in its local and global communities by 2025.

And it’s already putting its money where its mouth is, with centre initiatives at launch including a $5 million investment across a number of new and long-term local grassroots partners as well as global and national non-profits.

“Lululemon is actively working to help create a healthier future, and we are focused on meeting the goals detailed in our Impact Agenda, including making 100 percent of our products with sustainable materials and end-of-use solutions by 2030,” commented Lululemon CEO Calvin McDonald earlier this year.

“Our Lululemon Like New and Earth Dye initiatives are both meaningful steps towards a circular ecosystem and demonstrate the sustainable innovation underway in product development and retail,” he added.

By plotting a healthier future, the brand is also hoping to better tap into the values and motivations of the consumers of tomorrow. 

According to recent study ‘Gen Z Shoppers Demand Sustainable Retail’,  a significant proportion of Gen Z consumers prefer to buy sustainable brands, and they are most willing to spend 10 percent more on sustainable products. 

In addition, Gen Z and Millennials are the most likely generations to make purchase decisions based on values associated with social and environmental issues. Across the industry, this is influencing legacy brands to step up and make a change, with many recognising that if they don’t, they risk becoming irrelevant in the future landscape.