It is March and a little over two months since the New Year’s resolution season began. Nearing spring and summer, gyms across the country get flooded with a wide range of customers: from “lose-last-5-pounds” folks to seasoned fitness lovers. Shortly after the winter months arrive, however, the craze will fade away; weeding out most of the “New Year resolution” gym-goers, the previously crowded gyms will return to their usual workflow. It happens every year, and I bet it has happened at least once to everyone. As a society, we all understand the importance of fitness and regular exercise. But knowing does not equal doing; also, doing it once does not equal doing it regularly. So, what exactly does make those fitness commitments stick? Peloton has the answer.
Historically, stationary bikes evoke several types of common associations – at least they did in the pre-Peloton era. It can be incredibly boring or exciting, depending on your fitness preference. Peloton, however, does not promote its brand’s core strengths as fitness and improving health. Think about it, Peloton does not promise that you will lose “X” pounds in 30 days, and it really does not sell any health benefits of regular exercise. Aligning its brand story and positioning with a deeper customer need, Peloton sells us on an idea of community, belonging, exercise that will connect us with each other and will be as challenging and as fun as possible. By manipulating (in the best sense of the word) the innate human need to belong, the company enables “secondary” fitness benefits to emerge, so to speak and creates an environment where positive changes stick.
Consider the name of the company: “In a road bicycle race, the peloton (from French, originally meaning ‘platoon’) is the main group or pack of riders. Riders in a group save energy by riding close (drafting or slipstreaming) to (particularly behind) other riders.” To paraphrase, riders in a group perform better than on their own. Whereas in the past, cycling in an actual gym class was the only place for group connection for athletes and non-athletes alike. Today, however, Peloton has changed this entirely by presenting an opportunity where individuals can recreate the feeling of community, but do it from anywhere the bike is – even right in your home. Convenience, connectedness, competition is all weaved in this company’s brand story. I don’t know about you, but for me the idea of having a fun and intense class with my fitness friends, while challenging myself, is far more motivating than “getting through it because it is good for you” routine. Add the high energy instructors and pumping music into the mix and it becomes obvious why Peloton has so successfully created such a remarkable following.
Peloton’s brand story goes well beyond having exciting and engaging fitness classes. It’s carefully crafted message also builds on the human desire to be better, to do better, and strive for more. “We didn’t wake up to be mediocre” – spin instructor proclaims in one of the company’s commercials. Carolyn Tisch Blodgett, SVP of Peloton’s Global Brand Marketing sums it up “I know for myself, as a working mom, if I can spend 45 minutes, or even 30 or 20 minutes with Peloton before my kids wake up, I’m more patient with them. I’m more present in meetings at work. Every part of my life is better because of Peloton. So that is the story we’re telling and the brand we’re building.”
Peloton’s success has been quite transformative for the entire fitness industry. Despite the steep $2,000 purchase price for the bike + monthly subscription price tag, the company’s sales have more than doubled in the last year and have reached more than 400 million dollars. One of the main lessons that other companies can take away from Peloton’s narrative is that telling an engaging story – beyond the most obvious product benefits – produces far more effective, powerful, and lucrative results.
Jr., Tom Huddleston. “How Peloton Exercise Bikes Became a $4 Billion Fitness Start-up with a Cult Following.” CNBC, CNBC, 12 Feb. 2019, www.cnbc.com/2019/02/12/how-peloton-exercise-bikes-and-streaming-gained-a-cult-following.html.
O’Toole, Mike. “Want To Be The Next Peloton? Here’s How The Fitness Brand Is Expanding Product Line And Impact.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 31 Jan. 2019.
“Peloton.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 17 Feb. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peloton.
Roamy. “How Peloton Turned Selling Fitness Equipment on Its Head.” Medium, Better Marketing, 8 June 2019, medium.com/better-marketing/ride-or-die-pelotons-marketing-strategy-fddb268f077a.