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Since its founding in New York in 2006, Soulcycle has taken the world by storm, attracting novel fitness enthusiasts around the world through word-of-mouth.
As of 2015, they had 37 studios all over America and over 440,000 active cyclers - and the number keeps growing. Forbes estimates that they earn over $87.6 Million in just one year.
What sort of marketing strategy did they use to achieve such success? Let’s take a look.
1. They present the mundane as extraordinary
Yes, it really is exercise on a stationary bike, but no, it is not done alone at home in your pajamas.
Soulcycle markets itself as a collective experience, involving others around you working together, with a single goal, to keep cycling and to keep in time!
A sophisticated amalgamation of trained staff members, pumped up music, a constant string of motivation, the Soulcycle model is about delivering a holistic exercise experience that works not just your body but your mind. Fans have even described the experience as addictive, in the best way possible.
It is about filling you with adrenaline and excitement such that you are telling your friends all about the incredulous 45 minutes before you even leave the room.
2. Appeal to people’s desires for a collective activity that pumps and riles you up, all the while burning calories
Clever marketing conceals the fact that this is an exercise class!
Like its name suggests, Soulcycle is really about reaching and pushing the inner limits of one’s bodies - together.
Soulcycle stresses on teamwork with your #SoulMates and #SoulSquad, and they are able to transform a scene of sweaty bodies cycling in a tiny room into a 'collective spiritual exercise'.
By also selling #SoulSwag that allows fans to show off their Soulcycling credentials proudly, SoulCyclers create an image of being part of the in-crowd.
The nature of its exercise and the desire to be part of this cool crowd has undoubtedly been such a hot topic that newcomers arrive at these gyms in packs.
3. “Crew leaders, performers, inspirations, entertainers”, not fitness trainers
The biggest part of the experience in the “Soul Sanctuary” is really the crew member leading the exercise.
Their website features glamorous photos with quirky profiles of each and every instructor, accompanied with their individual mantras (my favorite is "Use fear as fuel to overcome your struggle”.)
Because of the huge care Soulcycle puts in making sure that their instructors are interesting and inspirational people, they become more than just trainers - they become role models.
For members and newcomers, this is really the deciding factor which encapsulates the unforgettable experience.
4. The unique, communal experience of being part of Soulcycle keeps people curious and wanting more
Don't forget: Every time you take a SoulCycle class on a Monday through 2/29/16, you’ll be entered for a chance to win a 3-day trip with a friend to the Soul city of your choice. Tell us: who will you bring with you? #SOULmates #SoulFriendsForever #MondayAtATime (details in bio)
A photo posted by SoulCycle (@soulcycle) on Jan 17, 2016 at 5:51pm PST
A lot of people have raved to their friends, describing Soulcycle as nearly cult-like, a cathartic experience that allows the deep penetration of the mind and the muscle.
Newcomers tend to be attracted by the descriptions of these exercise sessions from the huge word-of-mouth generated. It’s new, it’s crazy, it’s something that might finally inspire them to live a fit life.
Soulcycle also has a great social media team that feeds off social media responses from its members.
Rather than to maintain a traditional professional relationship with gym goers, Soulcycle celebrates the interconnectivity of its members and themselves and constantly encourages spreading the word of their good.
The creation of a Soulcycle online community has helped facilitated their word of mouth business models by encouraging members and trainers alike to reach out to newcomers and to their friends to join the family!
5. An incredibly strong visual identity and message - telling a compelling story.
SoulCycle's branding is incredible - and consistent.
Everything they push out, from their merchandise to their social media posts feature bright colours, loud fonts and thematically strong mottos like "Take your journey. Change your body. Find your SOUL" has been consistent, and tells a clear story about the Soulcycler. They're strong, they're adventurous and they're bonded as a 'Soul Family'.
All of their collateral pushes a strong, collective message of strength, empowerment and community, making anything they do seem cool and desirable.
Recap: How did SoulCycle achieve such huge success?
- Made a mundane cycling exercise seem extraordinary
- Tapped on the idea of collective experience
- Instructors are more than just that - they are also entertainers, role-models and friends
- Created a strong community via their website and social media
- Had a strong story to tell, and told it consistently