Experiential Marketing

Lululemon gave out $98k worth of leggings—here’s how and why

The brand decided that showing, not telling, was the best way to counter dupe culture.
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· 4 min read

If you can’t beat ’em, give ’em away for free.

That’s what Lululemon did in its “Dupe Swap,” a two-day event in which around 1,000 people in LA received a free pair of the brand’s $98 Align leggings in exchange for knockoffs. The pop-up was, in part, a response to the dupe culture that has taken over social media as creators scour for the best and least expensive alternatives to share with their followers.

The Dupe Swap activation drove a ton of attention online, with some posting that lines were so long, people were camping out overnight to secure their free leggings. One TikToker who works in product marketing called it their favorite activation they’ve ever seen, while some media outlets praised it as “brilliant” and said it showed the brand could be “imitated but never duplicated.”

So how did Lululemon pull off the event and justify giving out $98k worth of leggings?

The proof is in the pudding leggings

Nikki Neuburger, chief brand officer at Lululemon, told us that the activation was a way for the brand to showcase its “superiority in this space” by letting people feel the difference.

“We’re seeing so much conversation around Lululemon and specifically the Align tight in dupe culture,” she said. “Why not invite folks who have the dupes to come and really put ours to the test, try them on, and then trade theirs in for the real thing?”

To reach their target demo, aka new Lululemon customers, Neuburger said her team chose Century City Mall as the event location given its high visibility and traffic. They also promoted the dupe swap on TikTok and other social channels before and during the event.


To keep things simple with inventory, Neuburger said the team chose to give out one product (black 25” Align leggings) and stock all sizes, 0–20, with quantities based on sales data from its North American stores. To prepare for the line, which ended up consisting of “many thousands of people,” Neuburger said her team had a tent ready in case of rain and worked to inform people on wait times and size availability.

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When asked what she thought of seeing people camp out for their leggings, Neuburger said she wasn’t surprised but rather encouraged and excited by the results.

“For every one person who stood in line and went through the experience, I think they influenced many, many, many others who were following their journey on social,” she said, adding that “the plan executed the way we had intended."

New customer, who dis

According to Neuburger, half of the guests that came through the activation were new to the brand, and half who participated were under the age of 30, which she said was “awesome both from a cultural relevance perspective” and for building a relationship with those customers “over a long period of time.” By collecting information from attendees, she said, Lululemon can continue the conversation with them and help foster those relationships.

Neuburger confirmed that the activation exceeded all of her expectations around reach, visibility, earned media, and social impressions, but did not share numbers.

“If you think of this in a way similar to if we had paid for media placement, to run an ad that everyone would see, I think we actually achieved broader reach,” she said.

According to Neuburger, foot traffic at Lululemon in Century City Mall also beat expectations the weekend of the event. Based on the success of the activation, she said she plans to continue to encourage using product trials as a conversion tool, adding that it’s where the brand has a “tremendous amount of upside.”

As far as what happened to the swapped-out leggings? Neuburger said Lululemon worked with textile recycling company Debrand, which, according to the Lululemon website, uses the textiles to make things like home insulation, mattress stuffing, and boxing gloves.

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