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The sport of cycling has enjoyed a massive upswing in popularity in the last five years – and nowhere is demand more obvious than in the rapid growth of boutique cycle studios. But who exactly is paying top dollar for cycling? In short, it’s the audience known as millennials.
At a time when industry reports suggest that average customer spend is slowing and typical fitness facilities are dropping in profits1, cycling boutiques like SoulCycle and Flywheel are bucking the trend: earning more than twice as much per customer, generating thousands of attendances, and fast becoming the industry’s most lucrative spaces.
In September 2015, riders at SoulCycle New York forked out US$34 for a 45-minute class, or US$850 for 30 rides2. Over at Flywheel, prices were similar: US$34 for a 45 to 60 minute class or US$600 for 20 rides3.
So who are these millennials, the customers behind indoor cycling’s boom? And what can the rest of the industry do to gain a piece of the action?
A Nielsen: Les Mills Future of Fitness White Paper (2009) observed that future consumers will expect experiences that deliver “what I want, when I want it, and where I want it”4.
With the emergence of millennials that future customer has arrived. People like Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice of SoulCycle, have been ahead of the curve in recognizing and responding to their needs – enjoying staggering returns in the process. Now owned by Equinox, SoulCycle has opened 45 locations in the United States, with plans to open 50-60 studios worldwide.
According to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), the average fitness club has a way to go to attract this critical customer group: “the average age of customers in US/typical fitness clubs is 40.7 years old”5. The good news is that there is a huge opportunity to do so. The Nielsen: Les Mills Global Consumer Fitness Survey (2013) shows that 81% of millennials either exercise or would like to (vs. only 61% of their baby boomer parents)6.
Here are five other relevant facts about what Forbes.com is calling “the most important customers your business has ever seen”7: