Recode reports that data from Earnest Research, which analyses web searches and credit and debit transactions, shows stationary bike company SoulCycle suffering its biggest ever year-on-year sales declines in the last week of December and the first weeks of January. This coincides with a surge in interest in rival Peloton over the holiday period.
SoulCycle is part of a family of brands that faced a boycott in August 2019 after it was discovered that one of the key investors in its parent company was hosting a fundraiser for President Trump’s re-election.
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A large proportion of SoulCycle’s liberal customer base, including a number of celebrities, boycotted the company, depressing sales and attendance by as much as 16 per cent, according to Earnest Research.
The rise in popularity of Peloton seems to have compounded these problems, with SoulCycle sales in January 2020 down 29 per cent compared to the same period in 2019.
SoulCycle disputes these figures. “Earnest Research’s data is completely false,” a SoulCycle spokesperson told Recode, but would not state on the record how the data was inaccurate, or if there were alternative numbers available.
Based around group classes in physical locations across the country, SoulCycle charges customers approximately $35 per class and is synonymous with the trend towards boutique fitness experiences.
Peloton has a different business model in which customers buy a $2,245 bike and participate in either live or pre-recorded classes from home for a monthly subscription of $39.
The company also operates three studios and offers an app subscription that includes a number of other forms of exercise and the ability to use a different kind of bike.
Peloton, which went public last summer, has its own financial worries, posting a loss of $50m last quarter. However, sales are growing robustly.
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Online attention was drawn to Peloton via a widely-derided advert campaign last year which was described as “dystopian” and “sexist”.
Sales data seems to indicate that there is no such thing as bad publicity, although the company’s share price plunged at the time of the ad’s release.
Earnest Research’s data shows that 9% of SoulCycle customers had spent money with Peloton in the last six months, while on 2% of Peloton customers had spent money with SoulCycle over the same period.
SoulCycle, in partnership with its co-brands Equinox and Precision Run, is expected to enter that at-home fitness market in the near future.