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Despite the ad, Peloton's product reviews are soaring and it may be our fault

1 week ago by Joshua Fruhlinger in Interactive

Peloton ($NASDAQ:PTON) is having a weird week. An ad titled "The Gift That Gives Back" that was meant to put exercise bikes on shopping lists (see the video above if you haven't yet) instead sparked a social media outrage frenzy, and has analysts wondering if the market will turn on the fitness company.

But data that we track across millions of product reviews suggests that Peloton probably doesn't care that some people are hating the brand because of a little social media snark and vitriol. Not only is the newly public company's stock is doing just fine, but once-slumping product reviews have begun to turn around.

And Thinknum Media may be to blame for the latter. Here's why.

Since 2016, customer reviews for Peloton Bikes were reflecting less-happy users. The above charts represent a cumulative average for bike reviews over time.

But something happened in early August of this year: cumulative reviews began moving in the opposite direction. 

So what is responsible for the new, happy customers? All of a sudden, reviews indicate that people are happy with the product as well as the delivery and install process. It turned out that part of the problem stemmed from customers who were unhappy with the way their bikes were delivered (if they were delivered at all) and installed by a third-party last-mile and logistics company. We reported on that on exactly August 1, right when review scores were at their lowest point.

And then something happened: Reviews started trailing up, just before Peloton had its IPO. During that same pre-IPO time period, we reported that Peloton had begun in-housing its delivery and installation. It launched a massive hiring spree for a new "Field Operations" division on the same day that it cut hiring for an "Operations & Logistics Group".

As of this week, Field Operations is Peloton's most in-demand group when it comes to hiring with 232 openings. And what do they do? They're "Brand Ambassadors" that install bikes in customers' homes. They monitor "Member Satisfaction" targets. They're "Field Operations Managers" who make sure deliveries are done on time.

They're doing everything Peloton wasn't getting out of its previous logistics service providers. And, as the data shows, it's working.

As to whether or not the bikes are delivered to unsuspecting wives who may be offended by the notion that their husbands think they should get in shape, well, that's a matter for Twitter to sort out.

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

Further Reading: 

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Joshua Fruhlinger

Joshua has been writing about technology, lifestyle, and business for over 20 years. He's one of the original writers and editors for Engadget, and still writes a...

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