- In August, some SoulCycle users were outraged when the chairman of the company that owns the brand – and many others, like Equinox, the Miami Dolphins, and coffee chain Bluestone Lane – hosted a fundraiser at his home for President Donald Trump.
- Celebrities called on SoulCycle fans to boycott the popular spin class, and plenty of people on Twitter appeared to follow suit.
- Boycotts are a controversial way to get your message across, and rarely ever work.
- However, according to data reported by Recode, attendance appears to have been steadily decreasing at SoulCycle over the past month.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
In relatively surprising news, the call for a boycott against SoulCycle appears to be working, with one data firm showing attendance steadily decreasing over the month of August. The reason for the boycott? Because Stephen Ross, the chairman of the company that owns SoulCycle, among dozens of other brands, held a fundraiser for Trump at his home in the Hamptons.
The fundraiser was first surfaced in early August, when the Washington Post reported that Trump was set to appear at Ross’ home in Bridgehampton, New York, with tickets costing up to $250,000.
Celebrities from Chrissy Teigen and Billy Eichner to celebrity chef David Chang, who’s restaurants received money from Ross, called out Ross and encouraged consumers to take their business elsewhere, to the myriad other spin class alternatives out there.
And apparently, it’s working.
According to the data firm Earnest Research, attendance has been down as much as 19% as compared to this time last year. Earnest used publicly available data to make this comparison, as SoulCycle’s entire booking system is online, and told Recode that their “online method has visibility into nearly all US attendance.” SoulCycle didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Last month, cancel culture came for SoulCycle. One month later, we have data that shows the hullabaloo was more than just Twitter chatter. https://t.co/Fs47M7w3gT
— Recode (@Recode) September 7, 2019
Recode visualized the attendance for each Sunday in August, and the first Sunday in September. While the Sunday before Ross’ fundraiser was made public showed a 1% increase from that day in 2018, attendance has steadily been decreasing since then.
But what makes this so special? The fact that boycotts, on the whole, normally don’t see results.
According to Yahoo Lifestyle, experts predicted that this boycott would give executives a headache for a week, but overall wouldn’t see much of a long-term effect. “In general, boycotts largely don’t work, because most people aren’t compelled to make substantial lifestyle changes for an impact that seems indirect,” Maurice Schweitzer, who focuses on business ethics as a professor of management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, told Yahoo Lifestyle at the time. “Very few boycotts have led to changes,” he added to the Los Angeles Times.
Plenty of other boycotts have fizzled, such as people avoiding Chick-Fil-A after it came to light that the CEO was donating to anti-LGBTQ organizations in 2012. The company is growing more than ever. those vowing to get gas from stations other than BP after the oil spill in 2010. The gas company tripled their profits in 2017, reported the Financial Times.
- Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
The fact that SoulCycle attendance is decreasing, even just over the past month, is significant. So much so that Schweitzer told the Atlantic that the drop was “larger than we would typically expect,” while another boycott expert, Paul Koku, called the numbers “impressively high” and “very compelling.”
Both SoulCycle and Equinox have distanced themselves from Ross in the weeks following the scandal, but that doesn’t seem to be enough for some former devotees.
It remains to be seen if the fallout from the fundraiser continues as we near closer and closer to an election year.
- Read more:
- Crunch Fitness is trying to win over people ditching Equinox and SoulCycle in protest of the trendy fitness brands’ chairman’s ties to Trump
- Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills calls out team owner Stephen Ross for supporting Trump and hosting a fundraiser for his reelection
- These 34 companies are funded by Stephen Ross, the Equinox and SoulCycle owner facing controversy due to ties with Trump