By: Angela Perozzi
Fitness and exercise. You may love it, you may loathe it, but you definitely need it. Now, thanks, in part, to the Covid-19 global pandemic, health and wellness are again at the forefront of everyone’s mind. With estimates nearing $100 billion, the fitness industry has been steadily growing for years – a boom that extends far beyond your typical gym membership.
Not so long ago, organized exercise did not exist. Most people labored outdoors and walked to and from work. Your daily routine was exercise enough. But, as lifestyles became more sedentary, and waistlines expanded, orchestrated exercise became the norm. For better or for worse, we now schedule our fitness routines in the same way we do business meetings. On the positive side, exercise options have become exponentially more fun than, say, mowing the lawn. But with the multitude of choice out there, how do you know which fitness fads will become trends and which ones will just fade away? A quick look at this industry through the lens of Jobs to Be Done shows that by unpacking the range of motivators that drive customers to one exercise option over another, you can broadly identify potential areas of growth in this ever-expanding market, get an edge over the competition and reap significant financial rewards.
Take a look at a fitness company that is not only trending but seeing significant increases in revenue year after year - Soul Cycle. Indoor cycling is nothing new. However, Soul Cycle managed to transform a relatively mundane exercise into a hip, trendy, near cult-like business. One single session in a Soul Cycle facility costs a rider $34. Add in the cost of shoe rental, and you are looking at nearly $40 for one indoor bike ride. On paper, it sounds obscene. Yet, Soul Cycle accommodates nearly 6,000 students each day across its 25 studios nationwide. What makes Soul Cycle fanatics shell out over $30 per class for a single workout?
Now, take a look at Peloton, which is also indoor cycling, but performed in the comfort of your home. Launched in 2013 and aided by a Kickstarter campaign, this stationary bicycle has taken home fitness to another level. For $2,245, a Peloton bicycle can be delivered to your door and assembled with white glove service. Their app subscription, offering unlimited access to their online classes, is an additional $39 per month. Many other indoor cycling bikes exist – at a significantly lower price point. Yet, people are raving about the Peloton. In fact, sales have increased in the last year from $316.7 million to $524.6 million. Not only have bike sales increased, but their subscription revenue also saw an astounding 92% increase. So, what does Peloton know that competitors failed to realize?
Fitness is more than just exercise Yes, people exercise to keep their physical well-being in check, but what are often ignored are the corollary benefits; consumers Jobs to Be Done. Soul Cycle and Peloton both provide a great cardio workout. Cycling is not what sets them apart. These two companies managed to understand the additional Jobs that their clients were seeking from exercise – and use them to their advantage.
Exercise is a means of achieving emotional wellness. Anyone who exercises regularly will tell you that they do it to stay healthy. When you dig deeper, you realize that means more than just in the physical sense. Exercise forces you to focus on yourself, your breathing, your movement. Whatever your troubles might be, there really is no space for them while rapidly pedaling to lively music and the shouts of your instructor. Exercise grants us a mental reprieve – an opportunity to be in the moment and relieve tension.
Social communities are formed in fitness centers. Regular attendance at a gym or fitness studio often leads to the formation of social relationships. You tend to see the same people, at the same time, and you have something in common. These factors are all a solid base for a budding friendship. Interacting with others in an activity that does something good for your body naturally paves the way for human connection. As human connectedness gets more difficult to find, people often use fitness to satisfy this need.
Social media and influencers have increased the coolness factor of exercise. Attending classes at trendy fitness studios has become a social status indicator. When something is trending, people are naturally drawn to the hype – exercise is no exception.
At Soul Cycle, there is music and lighting that makes it a fun, energetic, happy place to spend an hour. You are not just paying to ride an indoor bicycle – you are paying for an experience. You get hooked on the inviting, beautiful studio that allows you to spend an hour with a group of people equally as excited to be there. Located mainly in major cities, you never know what celebrity you may be seated next to in one of their studios. Just being there makes participants feel cool. Soul Cycle realized what other fitness studios often fail to capture. People are willing to pay more for a quality experience – one that feels a bit more like entertainment than exercise.
Peloton managed to take it a step further and bring you the same benefits – from your home. Their all-access membership to online classes does not stop at cycling. They offer a variety of additional forms of exercise to suit all of the members of your household. Making their app about more than just cycling not only appeals to a wider audience, but it also makes people feel like they are getting an added bonus. This “freebie” gives buyers the feeling that they are getting more for their money. Add on hip trainers, downloadable playlists and the opportunity to compete for a spot on their virtual leader board and Peloton managed to check all of the feel-good boxes that make people feel fully satisfied about their home fitness product.
Soul Cycle and Peloton both offer their clients excellent physical results, but where they manage to differentiate themselves from their competition is their ability to deliver on the intangible. In making their workouts a fun, social, hip experience, they fulfill clients’ needs in on multiple levels. Understanding the Jobs to Be Done has changed the fitness game forever.
Angela Perozzi is a researcher at New Markets Advisors where she helps companies understand customer needs, build innovation capabilities, and develop plans for growth.
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