If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I’m a big fan of Peloton and share screenshots after my rides and give a shout out to the instructors as well.
I’m also a big fan as they are NYC based and I’m a huge cheerleader for what is happening in the local tech community and their IPO in 2019 was a major milestone. BTW, stock is trading really well right now and at a $8B+ market cap $PTON
The one area where Peloton could generate more value and customer lock-in is via social.
First, lets discuss customer lock-in. Peloton is facing competition from legacy players, who also want to put a tablet on a stationary bike, I mean, how hard can that be? “tablet on a bike” is how many Peloton doubters would describe the company and in some ways they are right. However, they have a few things going for them that is creating a bit of customer lock-in. They have done a good job on gamification, in term of badges, primarily on milestone rides, such as your 50th or 100th ride. Many hard core Peloton fans, will actually fly to NYC, just to take their milestone ride in person at the Peloton studio and the instruction will give them a public shout out to the rider for the milestone ride. This goes a long way for riders and provide some lock-in as you are going to lose your milestone badges if you hop to one of their competitors. Another lock-in for now, is the specific instructors that have a big following, it is sticky for many riders as they are loyal to that instructor. I say for lock-in for now in that instructors could jump to a Peloton competitor but we haven’t seen that as of yet, from I understand the high profile instructors have some financial incentives built in to stay a Peloton. Anyhow, the milestone badges and instructors have created some lock-in.
The other area where lock-in could be created and might be the most sticky is social. As of now social has been a major afterthought for Peloton, at least that is how I feel as customer, I don’t know their roadmap. The social aspect is very basic, there is the ability to follow people and for others to follow you. You can look people up their Peloton username but the interface is clunky and searching by name doesn’t provide good results. The upside of following or having followers is that if you are taking a Peloton class, you can see who else is in the class with you but the odds of that happening is pretty slim as people I know live in different timezone and I’m almost never riding at the same time as someone I know. Perhaps if I followed more people, the chances of serendipity would increase but again, adding people to follow isn’t that easy. If I’m riding at the same time as someone I know, we can do a virtual high five, that really is the only interesting thing about the social component of Peloton as of now.
However, I believe Peloton can unlock several billion dollars of value and create higher customer lock-in by really focusing on some social components that are non-existent as of now. Peloton users love talking about how they have a bike and also discuss specific instructors they like, it is a really a great conversation topic if you know someone that has one, there is a lot of passion around that. The question is how you take the real world discussion and passion and put it online. The opportunity is massive, no one has created a massive social network around working out, there are folks who have tried such as Fitocracy, Runkeeper and MapyMyFitness to name a few; they had some level of success but not at a massive scale. I believe Peloton riders would want to get together IRL (in real life), so a geo based network is possible. The riders could be single people, who want to find someone to date that is like minded, is into fitness and as mentioned earlier, Peloton is a real conversation starter. As a Dad in the suburbs, I can see meeting other Dads who are into Peloton, same would go for Moms I believe. Even if I don’t connect IRL with other Dads in the my local community, I do want to compete with them on rides, so a leaderboard for Dads in my town would be something that I would sign up for , I love competition and so do others. I also want to be able to create a leaderboard around age, I’m 41 years old and want to see other people who are a similar age and see how hard they are working out, it’s a motivation #DadBod 🙂 There could be a benefit to Peloton for a geo based social network, as an example, if there is critical mass in a particular region/town of people are really engaged socially on Peloton, they could decide to put a studio in town, as their is a social element to sweating together with a friend IRL.
Now, I do want to acknowledge that adding social elements, is opening a can of worms around privacy (age, location, gender, etc) and could result in bad behavior by the company and its customers, see Facebook as an example. Perhaps Peloton doesn’t want to open that can of worms, it could be a dilemma for them, I don’t know.
There is a massive financial opportunity for Peloton and benefit to their customers, if they do carefully unleash some interesting social features. Long $PTON.