Whilst advertisers and sponsors are still trying to find their place in women’s professional cycling, lululemon athletica have jumped and are willing supporters of the female peloton, specifically the women’s professional cycling Team Specialized lululemon.
With so many negatives being reported in women’s cycling I really wanted to find out why a company as big as lululemon comes on board to support a women’s cycling team, they have shareholders to answer to and four years ago if you has asked me about women’s cycling I would have said, ‘women’s what?’ The negatives are big issues amongst women all over the world, it's not just sport and it's not just cycling; this isn’t just a cycling problem.
It’s well advertised that women’s sport is under paid and under valued, women primarily get paid very little to race and with no minimum wage it’s difficult to set the standards. It’s a theme that is depicted in industry and services all over the world. Eric Peterson the Director of Brand Innovation in New Markets at lululemon athletica was more than willing to answer my questions about how women’s professional cycling and lululemon athletica belong together as one.
Initially with my first reading of the replies I had received from Eric I had wanted more, what I hadn’t realise straight up was that he had been upfront in answering my questions from the get go. It took a while for me to realise that he answered all my questions with the vision of the lululemon manifesto at the forefront of his mind.
Almost every question that I asked had a negative spin on it, my view had been to find out how a company could turn the negatives on women’s cycling around into a positive, lululemon has the foundation and the faith that these elite athletes can make changes to the world.
SheRides: There are a lot of negatives in women's cycling about sponsorship, lululemon athletica is a very positive and upbeat company with a manifesto that is unlike most companies, how do you plan on combating these negatives to turn them into a positive for your company and women's cycling?
EP: We're here to create components to help people live long, healthy and fun lives. By doing this, we hope to elevate women's cycling to greatness.SheRides: What sort of considerations did lululemon athletica take into account when deciding to come on board as a title sponsor with Specialized?
EP: lululemon has always supported athletes at all levels, including many elite athletes. We choose partners who are the best in the world at what they do, and in this case, the women who comprise Team Specialized lululemon are the best in the world in cycling. Additionally, we love the people at Specialized and appreciate the technical product they make for athletes. lululemon is constantly innovating, and working with the best cyclists in the world will enable us to continue to evolve and elevate our technical product.SheRides: Are you concerned by the amount of women's professional cycling teams that are lost each year and how does this effect the decisions that you make as a team sponsor?
EP: We believe in the sport of women’s cycling and see this as a great opportunity to help elevate these women and their careers.SheRides: lululemon athletica states in its manifesto that, “friends are more important than money,” is this an approach that lululemon plans on using in relation to women’s cycling? Can you describe to me what this statement means to your business and the sponsorship of Team Specialized lululemon?
EP: Our manifesto is our "truth check" and lists a series of statements that we believe embody our company's vision, culture and values. We integrate the manifesto in all aspects of our work. This is especially apparent with the partnership we have with Specialized and the team.SheRides: The CEO of lululemon athletica, Christine Day, stated in a press release by Specialized that, “feedback from the athletes is what drives us and these amazing athletes further to enhance our focus on technical product” should we be expecting to see a cycling kit in the future?"
EP: lululemon offers technical apparel for yoga and run, and features special "capsules" from time to time for other athletic pursuits. Throughout 2011, we’ve featured a few different cycling capsules in our stores. Our partnership with Team Specialized lululemon will allow us to continue to explore and innovate in the cycling arena.SheRides: As a sponsor what is it that you want to see from a team and the other partnerships involved to keep coming back for more?
EP: We want to elevate women's cycling. Winning, partnering with Specialized and supporting these elite athletes will help us achieve this goal.SheRides: lululemon athletica is passionate about education through your stores that encourage participation with free classes and running groups are you looking for members of the Team Specialized lululemon to give back in the same way that your company has built its foundation and how will you expect these athletes to give back?
EP: Team Specialized lululemon are elite leaders in the sports and fitness community; they are best in the world at what they do and are members of our lululemon family. Through sharing their vision and goals, and inspiring others around them to achieve their goals and participate in cycling, yoga or any other type of sport or physical activity, they will help to elevate the world to greatness.
My feeling on lululemon athletica is that they’re a group of really motivated people who are motivated to meet the one goal. I'm inspired by their beliefs and their energy. Their motivation is what women’s cycling needs, it needs that positive energy that lululemon has captured so brilliantly in their manifesto. With many of the elite women from the previous powerhouse of HTC Columbia agreeing to ride for this new partnership, they without a doubt head towards a positive season. Staying on for the season is Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, Chloe Hoskins, Charlotte Becker, Evelyn Stevens, Amber Neben, Ellen Van Dijk, Emilia Fahlin, Ally Statcher and Katie Colclough.*
*I would like to thank Eric Peterson for his comments that clearly reflect lululemon athletica, if you haven't heard of them then browse the website, www.lululemon.com, and if you're not sure about the product I highly suggest the socks that say Run (on the left foot), Fast (on the right foot). They're a company that has blogs, ambassadors, yoga classes, running groups and team members who are highly motivated and happy, it's even worthwhile to go in on your lunch break for the positive energy.