Lululemon on Wednesday named Nike veteran Nikki Neuburger to a newly created chief brand officer role, effective Jan. 20. In addition to "elevating" the Lululemon brand, she will be responsible for marketing, creative, communications and sustainability "to drive the company's global brand and storytelling initiatives," according to a press release.
Neuburger spent 14 years at Nike, most recently as global vice president of Nike Running, and also oversaw the direction of the Nike Membership division, according to the release. For the past two years she has served as the global head of marketing for Uber Eats.
Neuburger will join Lululemon's senior leadership team and report directly to CEO Calvin McDonald.
It's only a few days into the new year, but January has already been a relatively busy month for Lululemon's C-suite. In addition to Neuburger's appointment as the company's first-ever chief brand officer, the brand loses Chief Operating Officer Stuart Haselden on Friday. Haselden is set to take over the CEO role from Steph Korey at DTC luggage brand Away on Monday.
Neuburger is a telling choice for Lululemon's marketing arm given her experience with Nike's membership division. In recent quarters, Nike executives have touted the importance of members to the company's financial success, noting in Q1 that they drove over 50% of the company's Nike Direct digital growth in the quarter.
Lululemon also has ambitions in this area and has tested a paid membership program in multiple markets. During the retailer's most recent quarterly report, executives said they launched a test of the membership program in Chicago after initial positive results from an experiential megastore in the city's Lincoln Park area. The test has so far been successful and is creating a "halo effect" across the market, executives said. Neuburger's experience with a membership program at a global brand could be of use as Lululemon focuses on building its community.
Lululemon is steadily gaining on top competitors like Under Armour, Nike and Adidas. According to data from the NPD Group, in early September Lululemon was the No. 2 women's activewear brand behind Nike, and is expected to surpass Nike as the top women's brand if the current trajectory holds.
Among other things, McDonald highlighted Neuburger's strong experience in athletics as a major win for the brand going forward.
"Nikki is an innovative marketing leader with a proven track record of building and scaling global brands, making her the ideal person to become lululemon's first Chief Brand Officer," McDonald said in a statement. "Her years of experience in the athletic industry, paired with her deep expertise in digital marketing, consumer insights and brand creative, will be instrumental as we build upon our momentum and deliver on our Power of Three growth strategy."