Since its inception in 2012, Peloton has brought approximately 40,000 high-performance stationery bikes and virtual studio classes to homes all across America. In April 2016, John Foley, the brand’s founder and CEO, enlisted Lori Marcus to serve as its global chief marketing officer. Formerly of PepsiCo, Keurig Green Mountain Inc., and The Children’s Place, Marcus’ branding prowess is the stuff of legend—which is only one of the reasons you should expect to be hearing even more about this fitness phenomenon in the months and years ahead.
Lori, what enticed you about this opportunity?
I had “retired” from corporate America, and I launched Chapter 3, which involved keynote speaking and board director work. Then I got call about Peloton: I never heard of the company, so I went online and researched the product. My jaw opened! I said to the recruiter, ‘Are you are kidding me—this exists? It’s the best idea.’ I am a lifelong health enthusiast—my daughters say that the way some people talk about religion is how I talk about wellness. My worlds collided, and I had the realization to use my marketing, leadership, and business talents to sell a product I really cared about.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve encountered?
It’s very simple and convenient—you can do it from your home. And yet because it didn’t previously exist, there’s no easy reference point. There is so much to communicate, and doing so in short-form content has been one of the biggest challenges. The goal is to capture the messange and communicate about it in a way that gets people to research it.
How do the brand’s retail stores figure into the mix?
There are approximately 15 retail stores, which are sales and marketing showrooms. By the end of the year, we will probably have 20. It is a considered purchase to buy a bike at $1,995, plus a $35/month subscription. People want to physically try it before they buy it. One of our goals is to get enough showrooms so that anyone interested will go and try it out.
How important is social media?
We use social media in terms of acquisition—getting new members to the family, and then ensuring retention and engagement. Engagement is very important to us: The partners didn’t plan this, but we have 10,000 loyal riders, and they not only get in there and talk about rides they like, but they encourage others, and share each other’s achievements. They are an incredibly supportive and engaged group. Four years ago, no one had any idea this would happen. The community is everything, and social media is a way for that community to engage with one another.
What do you say to people who don’t want fitness equipment in their living rooms?
The people who created the Peloton bike did an incredible job to make it incredibly sleek, and tiny—the footprint is two feet by four feet. People who are very design-forward are comfortable putting it in their bedroom or living room.
The growth trend in cycling shows no signs of slowing. Why do you think biking seems to have such resonance?
It’s past the point where it would have been just a fad. There will be lots of other innovations, but boutique cycling classes are here to stay. In general, there is the motivational power of group fitness, and secondly, cycling works for all levels. Boutique cycling classes are fitness entertainment. Before Peloton, I always would go to a different cycling boutique studio that was a 15-minute drive from my home, and I would say, ‘If I can drive there, the instructor can do the rest.’ You really feel like you’ve spent the past 45 minutes at a party.