The Secret(s) to SoulCycle's Success

SoulCycle, an American fitness company, has seen overwhelming success since its founding in 2006, generating $4 million per studio in annual revenue and increasing profits by 240% from 2012 to 2014. How has SoulCycle gained such a following? Why are people willing to pay upwards of $35 for a 45-minute class? The answer may lie SoulCycle’s focus on responding to customer needs, implementing meticulous employee training, and fostering an intimate user community.

SoulCycle founders Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice made a clear point to be receptive to customer feedback from the very beginning, a tactic that ultimately enabled them to gain traction in the market. They incorporated user opinions into every aspect of the SoulCylce experience, in areas of music choice, interior design, and even the studio scent. This allowed them to develop a unique brand with an intensely devoted customer base, resulting in large volumes of word-of-mouth advertising. Generating buzz by continuing to maintain high quality and consistency for customers gives Soulcycle a credible, cheap, and effective way to market their service.

Additionally, SoulCycle’s thorough employee training process is a major contributor to the company’s success. Before becoming class instructors, employees start at the front desk to get a feel of company culture, before undergoing an intense 8-week training program. This ensures brand consistency and quality. However, once they graduate from the program, instructors are given considerable flexibility in how they run their classes. Freedom within the framework enables SoulCycle to cater to distinct customer preferences while maintaining uniformity across their brand.

SoulCycle’s users are more than just customers—they are an evangelistic community with a passion for the company’s mission and services. This is due, in part, to a deliberately created atmosphere of luxury and exclusivity. The studio’s high priced classes, pristine equipment, signature grapefruit scented candles, and unique apparel make customers feel like they are a part of an elite club. Furthermore, the workout classes themselves incite a sense community within users. Inside a dimly lit room, cyclers pedal furiously side-by-side in sync to thumping music and the inspirational chants of the instructor. The experience is tribal, primal, and fun, bringing customers together in a unique fitness experience. That shared, exclusive community feeling fosters intense brand loyalty—once people start SoulCycle, they stick with it.

-Gabrielle Gayles 

Stanford Marketing Group