Lululemon scores with the Dupe Swap – this TikTok trend could benefit other brands too!

Published: June 20, 2023

min read

Lululemon hosted a “Dupe Swap” in Los Angeles to promote its Align leggings this spring. At this event, customers could take their cheaper, ‘look-alike’ knock-off leggings and trade them in for a free pair of the near-$100 Align pants. The event was a massive hit and did oh-so-much better than was expected – of the thousands and thousands that attended, at least half of them were new customers and more than half of them were under 30 years old.

Dupes are not new – they are counterfeits and cheaper versions of more expensive products. And Dupe culture is a popular TikTok trend where influencers promote cheaper look-alikes and alternatives to expensive high-end brands on social media. Now brands are picking it up and putting their unique spin on it and including it as a part of their strategies. It is almost as if some brand or the other does something new with it every day!

Some brands adopt the Dupe culture as a culturally relevant way to engage the younger demographic – this has better results than traditional customer acquisition efforts. Some other brands use this trend to underscore their own value as brands and keep away from cheap alternatives.

Dupes are very popular these days. Image search on Amazon has helped customers spot something they like and then find a much cheaper alternative to it. Influencers have made this trend hugely popular on Social Media, particularly on TikTok - the #dupe hashtag has 4.4 billion views on TikTok and 300,000 posts on Instagram.

The younger crowd is always looking for a bargain, as they don’t want to spend much – they want to appear very fashionable and trendy but don’t want to spend big bucks. So Dupes are very big with them.

And there are other brands putting their unique touch to the Dupe – Olipop, the new beverage brand is positioning itself as the dupe for Sprite! Whole Foods is promoting its own in-house brand, 365 by Whole Foods Market, as a dupe for Coca-Cola or Fruit Loops.

Lululemon's Dupe Swap was a huge success and it is a gift that seems to keep on giving. The event was at the beginning of May and they still have media mentions even now. Apart from the fact that they managed to attract a lot of new customers, the Lululemon store right next to the event venue saw increased traffic and sales on both days. Lululemon has recycled the traded-in stuff at a textile recycling company.

Brands and Dupes

Lululemon saw an unexpected level of success through this Dupe Swap that it plans to come up with other events that are inspired by Dupes. The reason is that it works extremely well with Gen Z.

Lululemon and other brands have shown the way to get Gen Z’s attention and brands can take a leaf out of their play books. When the youngsters want to appear on Social Media, making a fashion statement every day, (you need tons of material to pull that off) so dupes are a great, less expensive option.

The incredible popularity of this TikTok trend rubs off on any brand trying to put its unique spin on it – and the traction that the brand gets from just that, is phenomenal. This is a great way to get your brand in front of new and young customers. And if the brands manage to convert at least a fraction of those customers, it can really amount to something.

But one has to admit that Gen Z might just ditch the idea and turn their backs on Dupes – the idea might have run its course. Right now the affordability of fashion because of doing Dupes, is something that is very attractive to Gen Z. But this trend also contributes to waste and a lot of disposable fashion – and since the environment is something Gen Z is passionate about, one has to wait for the charm of Dupes to wear out and run its course.

Sustainable, long-term apparel is what will appeal to Gen Z in the long run. So they might just decide to invest in a few, well-thought out, versatile, pieces of fashion from luxury brands. Rather than have a pile of cheap copies.

But since the Dupes trend is on full swing now, brands would do well to jump in on that band wagon and make hay while the sun shines!


Grace Wang

Grace is an advertising professional who keeps abreast of the latest and greatest in the marketing and advertising space. She is a traditionalist in lifestyle and modernist in her profession. Outside of marketing and advertising, she helps younger generation try and adapt traditional lifestyle for a healthy living.


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