With a cultish following, how would the Peloton treadmill recall affect their brand?
On May 5th, Peloton issued a voluntary recall of the Peloton Treadmill following news of injuries and a death linked to the machine. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission had also issued a warning to users highlighting the potential risks associated with the Peloton Tread and Peloton Tread+. As a result of growing health and safety concerns, Peloton announced the recall of the treadmills as well as a delayed release of the new, smaller treadmill set to enter the market later this month.
It’s no secret that our team loves Peloton. Many team members visited the Peloton studio in New York City, and a bunch more have Peloton machines or digital subscriptions of their own.
As a technology company in the fitness space, we have been fascinated by Peloton’s innovation and disruption in our space. We’ve researched what makes Peloton so successful and have written articles about how fitness studios can learn from Peloton’s successes to compete and win. We’ve analyzed how Peloton has enhanced their workout experiences through their music, and even created a Peloton Conversion chart to help those wanting to maximize the benefits of Peloton’s cycling classes without purchasing the Peloton Bike.
So, when news broke of the Peloton Tread accidents and subsequent recall of the Peloton Treadmill machines, we became curious to hear how – or if – Peloton consumers’ perceptions of the brand would change. Peloton has a notoriously strong, cult-like following, so we were eager to see how these decisions would affect the company’s loyal following.
What consumers are saying about the Peloton recall
We surveyed nearly 3,000 Peloton users in our community to get their thoughts and perspectives regarding news of the treadmill recall. Here’s what we found:
- To set our baseline, we surveyed which products they have used, and 97% have used at least one Peloton product: the Peloton Bike, Peloton Treadmill, and/or Peloton Digital Subscription.
- 73% of respondents said their trust in the brand remained unchanged following the news, while 13% said their trust increased with the recall. The remaining 14% lost trust with the brand.
- 55% of Peloton users that did not own a tread would not consider purchasing a Peloton Tread, however only 12% cited safety concerns as their reasoning for this decision, compared to 38% who responded no need for one, and 32% because of the high costs.
When asked if they had any comments on the recall, a vast majority that commented sided with Peloton:
- “The peloton treadmill recall does not change my trust or view of Peloton as a company. Though I use the bike, it has become such an integral part of my life and has not only changed my physical health but my mental health as well.”
- “Children are unsafe around ALL treadmills regardless of brand, they shouldn’t have access.”
- “I think it’s more of a user problem but it’s good that peloton is going to try and figure out a way to make it safer.”
- “Treadmills are dangerous, we all know that. Don’t let you kids play on one. We don’t need federal regulators to remind us of that.”
- “There was always a warning on the treadmill and though it is scary I don’t think it was necessary for the recall.”
- “I value the fact that Peloton is addressing these safety concerns and is making it right.”
- “I still want a treadmill. All treadmills come with warnings and owners should try to be more careful to when they have children and animals as the warnings suggest.”
Yet some felt it was handled poorly:
- “The PR aspect seems super sketchy, but also consistent with the fake “One Peloton” messaging.”
- “I believe Peloton should have responded quicker and implemented actions to address.”
- “I was turned off by the fact that the CEO initially refused to recall. It seemed that he was more interested in profit than safety which is not okay.”
Because of Peloton’s brand recognition and popularity, it is unlikely that this recall will take a devastating toll on the company. However, it is a good reminder that a crisis can affect any business, and your response to a crisis is extremely important to managing your brand trust.