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Business Insider reports that athleisure retailer Lululemon “has been testing a new loyalty program in Edmonton, Canada.”

According to the story, “For a $128 annual fee, members are given a free pair of training pants or shorts, access to classes, and free shipping for online orders.

“CEO Calvin McDonald said this new program will be rolled out to more markets in 2019.”

Here’s the money passage from the Business Insider story:

“Loyalty programs have become a major trend in retail as more stores look to recreate one of the industry's leading memberships: Amazon Prime. Amazon's $119-a -year service now has over 100 million paying members globally.

“These programs are designed to make customers more loyal to the brand and, ultimately, encourage them to spend more money at these stores. This is especially important for Lululemon as the athletics wear market has increasingly been flooded with more options and new brands such as Outdoor Voices, Bandier, and Kate Hudson's Fabletics have taken market share.”
KC's View:
On the one hand, I’d respond to this by saying, good for Lululemon, they’ve identified an Amazon initiative that can work for them.

But on the other hand, I have a question … one that I’d extend to every retailer not using loyalty programs to collect and track consumer data and use it to respond to and anticipate consumer needs:

What the hell has taken you so long?

Amazon Prime was launched in 2005. Thirteen years ago. At that point it seemed clear to me - and I’m not all that smart - that it was converting an online retailer into the world’s biggest and best loyalty marketing program. It not only fundamentally changed the rules of the retailing game, but it made very clear what the competition had to do to keep up.

How any retailer could not understand this and actively develop a response - whether high-touch, low-touch, or some combination thereof - is beyond me. The only explanation is retail malpractice … and that’s an explanation, not an excuse.