468 Retail and Channel Management Blog

Monday, March 13, 2017

Fabletics: Fab or Drab

As a new lover of yoga, I had a need or maybe just a strong want for new workout clothes. As a beginner, I already felt out of place unsure of all of the poses (what the heck was Baddha Utthita Parsvakonasana), but also the fact that I was in my baggy old t-shirt and shorts when everybody else was wearing Lululemon. Clearly my hedonic need was unsatisfied.  

Baddha Utthita Parsvakonasana 
Trends in health and fitness have helped propel athletic clothing sales, but beyond that the athleisure market was born. Many contributing its existence to Chip Wilson, the founder of Lululemon. My search for new workout clothes originated there, but I didn’t want to pay $100 for a piece of spandex. I wanted to fit in at my yoga classes, but not at that price. As a student there were better things I could spend my money on.

Finally, I remembered Fabletics, my Facebook and Instagram had been flooded by advertisements for weeks and now I had a reason to check it out. I was excited, who doesn’t love online shopping! Furthermore, Kate Hudson was a co-founder, I was a fan even before I entered the site. Kate combined the popularity of athleisure and the convenience of e-commerce. My experience exceeded my expectations, but over time the excitement disappeared and my satisfaction dwindled. As a prestigious “VIP Member”, here is my experience with Fabletics:

FAB:

Fabletics follows a Price Centric Model. Kate Hudson stated, “You should not have to pay $150 for a yoga pant. [There was a] gap in the active wear market, plenty of luxury brands, but none that offered stylish high quality gear at an accessible price point (Netflix, 2016).” Fabletics is able to offer higher quality at a lower price because it is “direct to consumer and e-commerce (Netflix, 2016).”

Fabletics uses mass customization to establish preferences. The Lifestyle Quiz asks a variety of style and size preferences to develop a personalized shopping experience called “my outfits”. New products and outfits are suggested in “my outfits” ever month. Customer reviews and ratings are also available for most products. These profiles and product ratings allows Fabletics to compile customer information and track popular items. 


Extreme promotions for new VIP Members attract new potential customers. The benefits of a VIP Membership are enticing and necessary to benefit from low prices (otherwise they are comparable to Lululemon).


Fabletics is extremely convenient as it is available anytime. But, some customers may prefer to have an in-store experience. Fabletics opened brick-and-mortar stores in 2015 and are currently expanding (Fabletics, n.d.). Although online shopping is growing, in-store shopping is still dominant (Gold, 2016). Fabletics is still able to customize the in-store experience by offering popular items determined from online customer’s profiles and reviews (Gold, 2016).

DRAB:

Although “my outfit” is a great idea, the execution is not 100%. Further personalization would be beneficial considering I barely look at “my outfits” and generally browse the entire site.

Fabletics sugar coats the idea of a membership model, saying it is not a prescription because you are able to pick and choose what you want (Mowbray, 2016). Although different, many customer complaints believe they are using deceptive marketing. If it looks like a cat and acts like a cat, it is probably a cat. Other complaints have also been made from a growing number of demon customers including:
   - Return costs
   - Items frequently out of stock
   - Opting out of VIP Membership is hard
   - Lifestyle Quiz is annoying
   - Unauthorized monthly credit card charges if you forget to "skip"
      (Mowbray, 2016)
Fabletics has not ignored these complaints and from a satisfied customer’s perspective, most are unwarranted.

I would consider myself the average customer, definitely not an angle, but far from a demon. My complaints are few, Fabletics benefits from my occasional purchase, but even more from my frequent monthly slip ups of forgetting to “skip”. However, they do have to deal with my impending returns, which in the end get me stuck in a cycle. The drawbacks of Fabletics appears to have a minimal impact as they have expanded into FL2, Fabletics for men (Fabletics, n.d.)!


References:

Extended Side Angle Pose. (n.d.). Retrieved March 12, 2017, from https://www.yogaoutlet.com/guides/how-to-do-bound-extended-side-angle-pose-in-yoga

Fabletics: Activewear, Yoga & Workout Clothes | Fabletics by Kate Hudson. (n.d.). Retrieved March 9, 2017, from http://www.fabletics.ca/

Gold, S. (2016, November 01). Kate Hudson's athleisure brand is doubling down on a strategy it borrowed from Apple and Warby Parker. Retrieved March 9, 2017, from http://www.businessinsider.com/cmo-of-kate-hudsons-athleisure-brand-fabletics-on-retail-industry-2016-10

Mowbray, N. (2016, March 20). Fury over Kate Hudson's Fabletics 'scam': Customers threaten to sue firm over claims they've been ripped off by hidden monthly charges after taking up VIP membership . Retrieved March 11, 2017, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3500874/Fury-Kate-Hudson-s-Fabletics-scam-Customers-threaten-sue-firm-claims-ve-ripped-hidden-monthly-charges-taking-VIP-membership.html

Murray, Kyle. B. The retail value proposition: crafting unique experiences at compelling prices. Toronto, ON:University of Toronto Press, 2013.

Netflix. (Producer). (2016, December 14). Chelsea [Video file]. Retrieved March 02, 2017, from https://www.netflix.com/watch/80104619?trackId=13752289&tctx=0%2C2%2C85a6a20d-2bbb-4302-a6d9-dfd225ed81ec-154125226






















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