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How to Turn a Product into a Lifestyle Brand

When you think about the brands you love, the products or services that you go back to time after time, what is the factor that drives you back?

This is what you should be asking yourself about your customers when you seek to differentiate yourself for your competitors (as you should be). What could you offer that will keep your customers coming back. What will make them sticky? What is that glue that’s going to bind you to them for a lifetime?

It’s all about becoming an integral part of their lifestyle.

Yes, marketing and advertising, especially with the rise of social media, isn’t just about shouting about products that serve a useful purpose anymore. While there is nothing wrong with having something good to offer (in fact, you should!), there is a chance that your name will be buried in obscurity if you focus solely on just being good, because your customers are looking for what is good for THEM.

Brands that have successfully transitioned to being a lifestyle brand do things a bit differently. They understand that it’s about getting more personal with your customers, communicating values they share with their customers, truly understanding what they want (not need) and being able to satisfy that in spades.

It’s about making your customers feel “You get me!”

That’s all well and good knowing this, but it’s a little harder to make it happen for your brand. It’s always clearer when looking at examples of brands that have got it right.

Think of internationally known brands like Nike, Wholefoods and Lululemon, or even Indonesian home-grown Wardah. All of these brands have one thing in common – they have mastered the art of turning a commodity into a way of life for their target customer because they have aligned their values with those of their customer.

Let’s take a look at two of them in more detail to see how they achieved this.

How Wardah flipped its marketing strategy and changed the game

Wardah is a makeup brand that offers halal-compliant products. It is a dominant force in Indonesia’s cosmetic industry, cornering almost a third of the market at one point.

Around 87% of the country’s population are Muslims, so if you think that Wardah’s success is all but guaranteed, you can be forgiven. Still, you would be wrong. For years, the company remained small and struggled against big names like L’Oreal and even local brands like Mustika Ratu.

That all changed when Wardah started focusing more on the consumer and not on being just another halal brand in a mostly Muslim country. The company included models not wearing hijabs in their campaigns. They also sponsored events featuring sophisticated and highly successful young women. They painted an image of what it is like to be a confident, independent, strong Muslim women today and associated their products with that desired lifestyle. When the company flipped a switch in its marketing strategy, it sent one clear message to the world: Muslim women are strong and independent, and Wardah understands it.

Here’s another company that got the importance of values from the beginning …

Lululemon developed a community that fights on its behalf

Lululemon is a Canadian company that makes yoga-inspired activewear. While its journey is different to Wardah’s in that it organically started off right from the beginning (and that stickiness protected it when it hit rocky PR events), its success lies in taking the same approach that flipped Wardah’s fortunes: understanding its target customer and ingraining its products into their lifestyle.

In its early stages, Lululemon successfully built a core of loyal customers. The company promoted friendship over money. It encouraged a healthy, active lifestyle. In the process, it created a community of women (and some men) who proudly wear the company’s products in and out of the gym.

It laid the groundwork for Lululemon’s enduring brand value, which came in handy when challenges arose. There was the problem over quality, where the leggings only worked for certain builds. There was also the issue with its price positioning, as the company purposely targets people of a certain tax bracket. There was the body-shaming scandal.

If Lululemon were a lesser brand, any of these issues could have relegated the company to the lower divisions and obscurity. But thanks to its fiercely loyal customers, Lululemon was able to weather one storm after another, securing its place at the top of a growing sector that is activewear.

Turning a product into a lifestyle brand: Align values

Nike, Wholefoods, Lululemon, Wardah and other lifestyle brands have their own stories, but they all have one message: To rise above the sea of anonymity, you must look beyond the obvious stories and make yours fit the values and lifestyle of your target customers.


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