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The Peloton Problem: when a want-to shifts to a have-to

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Peloton’s the latest brand to take a beating, stalling what appeared to be an unstoppable force-of-fitness.

Why? Why did such a juggernaut brand suddenly find itself pausing production and laying off staff?

It crossed the threshold from an intrinsically-driven brand to an extrinsically-driven one.

We humans are actually pretty predictable. We value behaviors and brands that are socially-endorsed, safe, and otherwise en vogue.

Yet, at the same time, we’re compelled to question them. What if there’s a better way? Just because everyone likes it, should I follow suit? What might work better for ME…?

In the heyday, the brand celebrated the individual – helping people find inner strength and discover (or re-discover) their fit selves. It was a want-to based on intrinsic, individual pursuits.

But in recent months, it’s shifted to a more dogmatic, popularized equity – whether intentionally or not. You’re pushed to subscribe. There’s lots of social feedback and motivation / pressure from the tribe of fellow members. The narrative shifted from “have you tried Peloton?!?” to “you HAVEN’T tried Peloton?!?” It became a have-to based on extrinsic, social pursuits.

The perils of ‘becoming too popular’ is a conundrum many fast-growing brands encounter. There are routes back to glory but the brand will need to put each customer back at the center, vs. inadvertently pushing them to fit into the amorphous collective.

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