Elevating On-Demand Fitness: How Pivoting Spins Peloton’s Blunders into Brand Awareness

Every company faces setbacks. In the case of Peloton, misaimed marketing decisions led to widespread backlash. Here's how they bounced back with a new message—and made the most out of their missteps.

on-demand fitness

By now, you’ve likely heard of Peloton, the fitness company widely known for its stationary bikes that allow monthly subscribers to participate in live, on-demand fitness classes. Amid lockdowns and gym closures, demand for at-home exercise equipment peaked. This worked to Peloton’s advantage—sales skyrocketed. 

As a result, Peloton has become a household name, though maybe not for the reasons brands set out to be memorable.

Over the years, Peloton has had its fair share of marketing snafus, between a controversial holiday ad in 2019 that was widely criticized as sexist and elitist, and more recently a fictional character’s heart attack after a cycling session in HBO’s Sex and the City reboot, And Just Like That

While these blunders have been effective in building brand awareness, they come at a steep cost to the brand. In 2019, the company’s stock dropped $1.5 billion in value after backlash to the holiday ad. A few weeks ago, their stock plummeted 11% after the pilot episode of the reboot premiered. 

While the company’s stock may rise and fall, Peloton users remain loyal with an almost unheard-of 95% retention rate. The rise of on-demand fitness as a result of the pandemic has certainly contributed to this success. But the company’s future success rides on their personalized, community-driven marketing that knows when to pivot—and steer in a new direction altogether. Let’s find out why. 

Peloton invites its users to “discover what moves you most”

Despite recent challenges, Peloton’s marketing consistently delivers on one essential aspect: personalization. From yoga and boxing to strength training, running, or cycling, they reinforce that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to fitness. 

That’s why they encourage users to “find the workout that fits [their] mood, goals, music taste, experience level and schedule on Peloton Bikes, Peloton Treads and the Peloton App.”

Not only do consumers gain a personalized experience that is unique to their preferences and schedule, they can also expect their fitness experience on-demand—with the ability to “Tap into motivation whenever you want it.” This messaging seems to motivate, considering 70% of members report working out more than they did before joining the Peloton community

Learn why the best return on your marketing dollar comes from copywriting.
Motivating copy helps build a growing community

In 2019, Peloton boasted 1.4 million users. By 2020, they had reached 3.1 million users. At the end of 2021, they had 5.9 million. Peloton has achieved the ultimate online community by inspiring millions of people to motivate themselves—and each other. 

By inviting you to “unlock your perfect workout” alongside millions of others, Peloton is building a connected community that rides in tandem, despite different goals and ranks on the leader board. This messaging reminds users that there is strength—and support—in numbers. It doesn’t matter what your goals are, or where you are—you are part of an active community that strives to improve, however you can. 

Addressing your audience’s concerns requires flexibility 

Part of Peloton’s success has been their reaction time, particularly how quickly they revise the narrative with what has become known as “fast advertising.”

When stock plummeted after the recent And Just Like That fiasco, Peloton released a new ad only three days later. The ad features Chris North, who plays Mr. Big, sitting by the fire with Jess King, a real Peloton instructor who also appeared in the reboot as his spin instructor Allegra. 

He says, “Should we take another ride? Life’s too short not to.” Sexual innuendos aside, Peloton asks its audience for another chance—by reiterating that life is too short not to improve your health and enjoy yourself. Their ability to respond to public concerns about their product demonstrates flexibility and a commitment to pivoting when they don’t quite hit the nail on the head—which many marketers can learn from. 

MarketSmiths Case Study

At Madison Square Garden (MSG), VIP guests can pre-order food and cocktails before Knicks games. But with uninspiring copy and antiquated technology, it was time to drag MSG to a new era. That’s where MarketSmiths came in. We were hired to write 200 new food and drink descriptions for MSG—a task we took on with relish. Combining simplicity and elegance, we made each and every option deliciously enticing, finishing the whole task with practically no revisions. Even better, MSG soon noticed a huge increase in orders—bringing a much-needed financial boost to this iconic arena.

> Read the full case study here

Peloton leads a new future for on-demand fitness in the metaverse

Peloton’s on-demand fitness offerings are already paving the way for a world where people no longer need to get gym memberships or interact with others in real life. Instead, the future of fitness will happen behind a screen, with a monthly low-cost subscription.

With the rise of the metaverse, Peloton is uniquely positioned to join the ranks of tech companies eager to merge the physical world with an increasingly immersive virtual reality. 

While Peloton’s brand stands out in our mind for many reasons, there are certainly competitors doing the same in this space—including Fitness +, Gaia, Beachbody on Demand, and Nike Training Club

The difference? Peloton’s marketing team knows how to personalize and pivot—maybe even using controversy as a brand-building advantage. And consumers can’t help but join them for the ride. 

Are you in need of on-demand copy to put your pedal to the metal? Contact the MarketSmiths copywriting team today. 

Olivia Watson

Olivia Watson

Affectionately nicknamed Lib by her friends and family, Olivia has always found a home in books and the places that safe keep them. You can often find Olivia browsing the fiction aisle at the nearest library, a cup of tea in hand. Her passion for language brought her to the Canary Islands last year, where she taught creative writing to elementary students.

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