Trying to Sell Your Old Peloton Bike? So Is Peloton.

Peloton paused the trade-in program this past June.

“It’s in Peloton’s interest to try to control the secondary market,” said Sucharita Kodali, an analyst at Forrester. By buying back equipment, Peloton takes used bikes away from the peer-to-peer market. Then the company can decide when and where to resell them, all while building a direct relationship with new customers and understanding who is buying their merchandise, she said.

When Peloton sells a bike, even a lower-priced used one, it is not just selling a piece of equipment. It is also gaining a potential customer for its all-access workout program, which costs $44 per month. Peloton’s subscriptions grew 27 percent over the past year, to about three million. (That number is roughly flat from the previous quarter.) A spokesman for Peloton said that the certified pre-owned program was meant to reach customers with both its equipment and its software.

Subscribers are paying Peloton the same recurring fee, Ms. Kodali said, whether they are riding a new model or a used one. “That fee is very lucrative because it’s very scalable,” she said. Mr. McCarthy said last week that he considered Peloton’s content, which includes instructor-led classes and scenic rides, the company’s “singularly unique competitive advantage.”

Peloton faces some challenges specific to its business, but it’s not the only company struggling to adapt to shifting consumer habits. Companies like Target and Walmart have seen profits drop this year, and many companies are stuck with excess merchandise not just because of inflation but also because consumers are focusing more on “going-out categories,” as Brian Cornell, Target’s chief executive, said in May.

In spite of Peloton’s runaway success in 2020, the pandemic was bad for the company, said Simeon Siegel, a retail analyst at BMO Capital Markets. “If not for the pandemic, Peloton would have been a steady grower that would have not sought to conquer the world,” he said.

A spokesman for Peloton said the company, having completed its 10-day trial run of the certified pre-owned bike program, aimed to expand the program across the country. In the meantime, many customers will continue to turn to third-party sites to offload their bikes.

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