Phillip – great post about a company most of us will not be familiar with! I agree that many of their operational choices seem optimized for the company’s operations. However, they do not seem focused on the customer experience – if I knew I would be standing uncomfortably before paying, rushed to finish my food, unable to talk to people or look at my phone, and “state my dream after” (which seems awkward), I may well choose to eat lunch at a different ramen restaurant. I assume their ramen must be delicious to ensure a steady stream of customers, but even that may not be enough.
Therefore, I’m curious:
– Which of these features are “standard” in a normal ramen restaurant?
– For those features not standard, what do you think makes customers want to come back and keep spending money at Yume Wo Katare, versus somewhere more customer-centric?
Interesting view Purple haze! I am largely with Trang in wondering how to take today’s social media-fueled success sustainable, if there is no IP and protected revenue associated with her actual workout program. It seems that other revenue streams (apparel, Instagram ads, bootcamps) rely on her continued celebrity status, which is tenuous in a saturated “#fitfam” market of Instagram-born personal trainers. If someone else with a newer, more novel concept enters this space and her followers drop, so does all her revenue-earning power. In contrast, someone like Jillian Michaels has built a brand around herself off of initial “Biggest Loser” fame and leveraged it into a line of workout DVDs, magazine articles, book deals, TV shows, etc (http://www.biography.com/people/jillian-michaels-5948#personal-life) as well as a strong social media presence. Most of these avenues generate royalties and also help convey a certain legitimacy/expertise it is difficult to do through social media alone.
However, #Kaylascult is new to me so these are my outside-in impressions. In your view, is there something she does differently than other social media-based fitness experts that will protect her follower base and help fend off competition?
Great post (and thread with insightful comments!) One additional way the company has linked its business model of an “aspirational active community” to its operational model is by targeting local yoga and fitness instructors to be its retail store employees. At least in Canada, many of the people you see working in a Lulu store also work in the industry in some kind of part-time or class-based way – personal trainers, yoga teachers, dancers, etc – and work in retail to supplement their other income. This helps to ensure a) your store employees are great “active lifestyle” brand ambassadors, b) can speak about product benefits from a position of knowledge, and c) the employee discount is given to people most likely to purchase a large amount of product for their own use and then wear it in highly-visible class settings.
I think it’s really interesting how Lulu was successful in building a brand and a community in a fairly niche segment – yoga – that was highly gender-segmented at the time of it’s inception, and leveraged it into a broader athletic wear brand. Initial forays into dancewear, gymnastic wear, figure skating apparel were logical extensions, but later success in selling men’s clothing and apparel for less-related activities like golf and hockey speak to compelling customer value and top-quality products. Despite the importance of high quality to encourage adoption from these diverse groups of customers and to justify the price point, I can’t help but think that the growing competition may create pressure to cut costs and protect margins. I know Lulu off-shored production of its products several years ago – did you come across any other cost-cutting measures that you feel risk compromising quality?