Lululemon study provides benchmarks for its wellness agenda

As it continues to evolve its brand beyond the athleisure wear it helped pioneer, lululemon released a benchmark study on wellness on Monday.

Unsurprisingly, the research across 10 countries found that the past year has taken a significant toll on many people, with just 29% indicating strong wellbeing across the study’s three dimensions: physical, mental and social.

The pandemic has also left us feeling more pessimistic, with only 40% of respondents feeling optimistic about the future, compared to 59% a year ago. And while about half of respondents said they intend to increase their focus on physical and mental wellbeing this year, 86% reported barriers to doing so:

  • 51% said COVID was a problem;
  • 47% cited time and personal responsibilities; and
  • 46% said lack of money.

The numbers are worse for young people, with 92% of Gen Z respondents citing barriers to wellness, and 25% citing issues like COVID and racial injustice as significant barriers to mental wellbeing.

“The events of the past year brought unprecedented challenges to the physical, mental, and social wellbeing of people worldwide,” said CEO Calvin McDonald in a release presenting the findings. “At lululemon, we believe in a holistic approach to wellbeing that helps create a healthier future for all. This research accelerates our efforts to support the wellbeing of the guests, employees and the communities we serve.”

While lululemon has always been associated with physical exercise and good health, the company has been moving to expand its connections to wellness. In July,  for example, it completed the $500 million acquisition of at-home fitness platform Mirror.

In October, it released Impact Agenda, described as “a long-term strategy to become a more sustainable and equitable business, minimize its environmental impact, and accelerate positive change both internally and externally.” The agenda contained 12 goals around the themes of people and equality, the planet, and wellness. The three wellness goals for the business were:

  • Provide access to wellbeing tools for more than 10 million people by 2025;
  • Invest $75 million to advance equity in wellbeing in our global and local communities by 2025;
  • Establish a lululemon centre of excellence for social impact to support wellbeing by 2021.

“Our Impact Agenda is more than a set of commitments,” said McDonald at the time. “It’s a holistic approach that reflects who we are, guided by our purpose to elevate the world by realizing the full potential within every one of us.”

With an unequivocal commitment to wellness as a core mission for the brand, lululemon now has its own report to back up its wellness focus and provide some indication of where and how it can contribute.

“The path to feeling good mentally and physically is easier when you have access to the right tools, support, and resources,” said McDonald in the introduction to the 47-page report. “That’s why lululemon is on a mission to disrupt inequity in wellbeing through movement, mindfulness, and connection. To make headway in our endeavour and gain a better understanding of where to focus our efforts, we explored the drivers and barriers to being well and used the findings to establish a worldwide benchmark.”

While researchers determined that the “Global Wellbeing Index” sits at 65—described as a “moderate level of feeling well”—they also identified a critical need for improvement in five drivers of wellbeing:

  • 15% consider themselves in good physical health;
  • 17% feel they are able to manage stress effectively;
  • 19% feel like they have enough energy to be able to accomplish things they need to do every day;
  • 19% feel confident in themselves most of the time; and
  • 18% have a good work/school/home life balance.

The research was conducted with Edelman Data & Intelligence, which surveyed 10,000 people in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Singapore, China, South Korea, Japan and Australia.

The researchers also concluded that a proactive mindset was important when it comes to some of the simple, impactful activities long connected to wellness, including getting enough sleep, eating healthy food, connecting with people you care about, being active and getting outdoors. “People with a proactive mindset are significantly more likely to be optimistic about the future (53%) than those who are not proactive (22%),” wrote the researchers.

Employers were also identified as an important factor in individual wellbeing. “Only 15% of those employed strongly agree their employer offers resources that support their overall wellbeing,” said the study.

“Lululemon believes everyone has the right to be well,” wrote McDonald. “As we work to accelerate positive change that supports the wellbeing of our guests, employees, and the communities we serve, this report will play a crucial role in shaping our path forward, together.”

David Brown