Each generation seemingly has their household names when it comes to home fitness equipment. At the turn of the century, it was nearly impossible to watch sports programming without seeing a NordicTrack or Bowflex ad, promising gym-quality workouts in the comfort of your home.
These days, home fitness commercials are all about “smart” machines, with companies taking advantage of widespread broadband internet adoption to replicate the in-gym experience, and continually monetizing it through subscription services that enable customers to join live or recorded workouts.
Peloton Leads the Way
At the forefront of this market is Peloton, which rode its popularity and explosive growth into an IPO in late 2019. But with new competitors nipping at its heels, and COVID-19 keeping people away from gyms, which of these smart fitness companies have positioned themselves to take Peloton’s crown and maintain this success on the other side of the pandemic?
A quick look at our network of nearly 2,000 stories in the past year about home fitness equipment shows that articles about smart fitness devices make up 14% of all published stories, with a little more than half of these stories focusing specifically on Peloton and their positive financial outlook.
But mentions of Peloton go beyond these topics, showing just how much they’ve taken over the overall home fitness equipment discussion, appearing in 1 of every 5 stories published about this topic in the past year.
When looking at the top 20 companies mentioned in these articles, Peloton’s dominance in the overall narrative is even more apparent, appearing in a significant percentage of stories that mention most of the other top companies, and with none of the other smart fitness machines like Mirror, Tonal or Tempo appearing in this list, a competitive analysis among these brands is moot.
That’s not to say that Peloton’s position is completely safe, and although they may be at the top of the smart fitness machine market for the foreseeable future, there are signs that consumers are also opting to find ways to work out at home without the use of technology, smart or otherwise.
Subscription Services May Be Short-Lived
When looking at our timeline broken down by topics, we can see that there are two sides to this coin. One side being purchasing home gym equipment to use during the pandemic, and the other side being how to use household items to stay in shape.
This should be concerning to companies (both virtual and physical) relying on subscriptions to generate revenue, since the implication here is that if consumer trends follow media coverage trends, there will be a lot more people who own the equipment they need to stay in shape even as businesses reopen, and that’s not the only thing they have to worry about.
With consumer spending nearing record lows, and the general public keeping personal budgets tight, the magic word when it comes to home fitness appears to be “free.” If we analyze our timeline and look at the percentage of articles mentioning free workouts, we can see that the percentage of these articles (represented by the light blue bars below) has grown in the past 3 months, coinciding with the spike in home fitness articles.
Leading the way is Facebook, with both Facebook and Instagram social media platforms making the top 4, along with YouTube thanks to articles mentioning fitness influencers and companies offering free workouts on these platforms.
So What Does the Future Hold for Home Fitness?
Based on media coverage in the past year, smart fitness machines besides Peloton don’t appear to have gained much traction, though the jury is still out on whether or not this is a signal of market saturation, or simply poor marketing on the part of its aspiring competitors.
There’s also the possibility that their potential market of gym-goers decides to stick to their newly purchased home equipment, and leverages YouTube or Facebook to get their personal training fix for free, which is something to keep an eye on as businesses reopen.
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