Daily Insights

Peloton Refocuses Promotion Strategy During Coronavirus Pandemic

By: Bill Duffy | Mar 30, 2020

Athletics has been one of the sectors most immediately and prominently affected by Coronavirus in the United States. The NBA’s announcement of its suspended season on March 11th was a major moment for public health and awareness of the pandemic. Just as consumers are not able to go to arenas to watch games this season, social isolation and staying indoors have also begun to have major effects on online sporting goods retail—sales in the week of March 16th dropped 13 points compared to 2019, in-line with overall online retail declining 14 points, according to Criteo

With overall retail sales down, consumers and brands are shifting focus: consumer search for “indoor workout” exploded in March 2020. Nike is addressing the shift head-on with its #playinside campaign and Soul Cycle is taking preorders for its at-home stationary bike. Peloton has taken the major step of offering a free ninety-day app trial, generating earned media and a spike in users. On March 16th, Peloton generated a wave of earned media and a surge in downloads with its free trial announcement. Trial customers can access workout content and classes that do not require the brands’ signature in-home bikes, helping the brand build a relationship with new customers not ready for such a large investment. Notably, Gartner detected little paid media behind these efforts—Peloton’s paid display actually declined substantially after this announcement, pivoting away from ads focused on studio visits and traditional 30-day home trials.

With small paid support, the brand’s Facebook post on March 16th promoting the free trial earned outstanding engagement, driving three times as many shares as likes. Furthermore, Peloton earned coverage from CNBC, USA Today, Business Insider, Slate and a range of other publications. When the brand updated its app to promote this new trial offer, downloads surged to five times the count of the day before the announcement and doubled the number of downloads during the holiday peak. Other brands should consider how they can adjust their promotional strategies to engage potential customers who are practicing social isolation. 

In response to concerns about studio safety and home delivery of its bike and other products, Peloton has taken several important steps to communicate to existing and new customers. The brand sent a clear email to customers detailing steps it’s taking, such as closing studios in heavily affected areas and closing all brick and mortar retail showrooms. Peloton also replies rapidly to customer questions about delivery timing and safety on its Facebook page. On its website, Peloton has a banner highlighting how its new delivery practice minimizes person-to-person contact by having delivery staff fully assemble the bike outside the customers’ door and having the customer roll it into their homes themselves.

In addition, Peloton is upfront with projected dates, acknowledging how shipments are slower than usual due to high demand. And in its post-purchase emails to new bike customers, Peloton reiterates this message of safety and encourages customers to select a scheduled delivery. Consistent, clear messaging about how your brand is working to keep customers and staff safe is critical in this crisis period. By adjusting their overall digital strategies to match new customer demands, leading brands like Peloton should serve as examples for affected brands in other industries.