By: Aliza Leichter  | 

Peloton and the City

Peloton Interactive (NASDAQ:PTON) was one of the few companies to thrive during the pandemic. The combination of gym closures and quarantine-induced sedentary behavior led Americans — 3.1 million of whom used Peloton in 2020 — to implement home workouts as part of their work-from-home routines. The exercise equipment and media brand was established eight years ago, with its stationary bike being released in 2014 after raising $10.5MM in Series B funding. 

The Peloton Bike, with its $2,245 price tag when CNET reviewed it in 2019, and an additional $39 monthly membership fee for access to instructors and classes, became the pandemic status symbol. In fact, demand was so high that some customers looking to shed their “quarantine 15” waited up to three weeks for delivery. In December 2020, Peloton stock soared 644 percent to peak at $171. Success continued into the first quarter of fiscal 2021 as paid digital subscriptions grew 382 percent and revenue increased 232 percent to $757.9 million. When the company’s early success encouraged price-conscious consumers to shop for less expensive alternatives by brands such as Echelon and NordicTrack, Peloton lowered the price of its flagship bike from $1,895 to $1,495. The price drop was unable to improve fourth quarter fiscal 2021 earnings, with the company reporting over $313 million in net loss, and the less-than-expected figure was likely bolstered by vaccine rollouts and fitness center reopenings. Forbes contributor John Dorfman declared that Peloton “leads the market’s parade of losers” after their stock plunged 72 percent for the year to date (through November 18), and suffered the greatest stock loss of any company at $5 billion.

And just like that, the situation was even bleaker for the brand; “Sex and the City”’s highly anticipated reboot “And Just Like That” delivered a plot twist so damaging, Peloton stock plummeted 11 percent overnight after its HBO Max premiere. The show portrayed a Peloton bike as being the likely culprit for Mr. Big’s heart attack and subsequent death. During a later scene, Carrie Bradshaw (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) gets ready for his funeral with the offensive bike prominently displayed in a passageway behind her. In response to their portrayal, Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventative cardiologist and member of the inaugural Peloton Health and Wellness Advisory Council, released a statement to clarify that “Mr. Big lived what many would call an extravagant lifestyle — including cocktails, cigars, and big steaks — and was at serious risk… lifestyle choices and perhaps even his family history, which often is a significant factor, were the likely cause of his death.” To further exonerate the brand, Dr. Steinbaum suggested that Mr. Big “riding his Peloton Bike may have even helped delay his cardiac event.” With former Peloton users listing their bikes on resale websites, in some cases for below $1,000, the company’s recovery seems as unlikely as Mr. Big’s.

Photo Caption: Peloton Bike

Photo Credit: Peloton