Is this the end of workout infomercials like P90X?

Infomercials have been around since nearly the start of television with sponsor companies having the goal of selling their products to a wide viewing audience. One of the all time biggest selling promotions was the workout video which came into popularity in the 1980s. The main idea of a workout video was to have people exercise at home and save money instead of buying a membership to a gym or hiring a personal trainer. When you throw in a well known celebrity to lead your workout like Jane Fonda or Cindy Crawford in the early days, it’s bound to sell.

In today’s market the biggest and best known workout videos are P90X or Insanity. As people might watch infomercials for P90X or Insanity, you would think they are competitors competing for an audience that only will only buy their product and dismiss others. However, this is not true. Both P90X and Insanity are both owned by a well known company called BeachBody who promote and take in revenue for both workout videos.

But how does BeachBody make a profit from doing this? Research shows that P90X has made BeachBody over $200 million dollars and Insanity has made them over $350 million dollars. But how when they are competing against each other? The answer lies in novelty and people’s innate ability to put things off until later. According to surveys and studies, only 7- 10 percent of people who buy P90X will finish it but only 3.8 percent of people will return the DVDs for a refund. People say to themselves that they will come back to the workouts later but they never do or they will move onto a newer product that may be a better fit for them or just another reason to not ever do P90X again. This is where Insanity comes in. People buy Insanity after P90X and again they fall into old habits and slowly take it out of their lives but they don’t return it thinking they can finish it later.

Novelty has a huge influence on whether people buy a product or not. They want something that is new and trending. One good examples is the Shakeweight. Shakeweight sold over 2 million weights grossing $40 million dollars for something that burns as many calories as walking 3 mph for a couple of minutes.  The infomercials to sell the videos were called “slightly pornographic” but became an internet hit boosting the sales of the product.


However, the sales from infomercials for workout videos like P90X have gone down. Why? The newest craze on the workout scene, streaming workouts. Instead of working out to the same video daily and paying one large sum up front, now you can workout for a low price of $12.99 a month and have a variety of videos to choose from, with new content being uploaded everyday. Sites like this make us wonder if this is the end of the push model of advertising that is infomercials- well at least for workout videos. The newest and biggest proponent of streaming workouts- you guessed it, BeachBody.

-Steven Kaufman


One thought on “Is this the end of workout infomercials like P90X?

  1. cascadiyeah

    This is an excellent post, Steven! I never knew about the economics of these fitness infomericals. One small comment: Actually, infomercials are considered a form of “pull” advertising. The idea is the commercials are so entertaining and informative that people choose to watch them as content.


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