As consumer behaviors shift, with more and more people using their various devices and services to access unique content, new fitness equipment companies have shifted to a content marketing-based approach.

In 1996, Bill Gates published an essay in which he famously declared “Content is king.” Gates predicted the rise of the Internet would provide businesses of any size with seemingly endless opportunities to publish informative and entertaining content as a means of engaging customers.

Flash-forward more than two decades, and his prediction appears to be correct. Companies across a range of industries have relied on the content marketing approach to reach customers, spread brand awareness, and distinguish their products from those of the competition.

Social media has added increased value to this approach. Although social media platforms may have been initially designed to serve as communication tools, helping users keep in touch with the important people in their lives, recent reports indicate consumers are increasingly using these platforms for content discovery.

Disruptors such as Netflix have also emerged as new types of content creators. However, such companies are by no means the only ones generating content now. Businesses that may have been unlikely to do so in the pre-Internet age have found that offering customers with information and entertainment should also play a major role in their overall strategies. For instance, companies that technically offer home-based fitness equipment have begun to provide users with unique content that differentiates their products from similar products.

Consider the example of Peloton. In 2016, the company earned the top spot on a major list of the fastest growing companies in New York. Peloton’s success is arguably due to its unique, content-based approach.

John Foley, the founder and CEO of Peloton, started the company because he found he often didn’t have the time to go to the gym and exercise regularly. While in-home exercise equipment was already available, he found the in-home exercise classes did not match the quality of those available at fitness centers.

Foley decided to create a business which offered fitness equipment that allowed users to access a library of streaming classes conducted by high-quality instructors. The content Peloton offers users allows them to get the same benefits of working out at the gym when they don’t have time to actually visit one. The hardware essentially serves as a means of delivering the service.

It’s important to note that Foley essentially considers Peloton’s class instructors to be the kinds of celebrities companies often partner with when releasing relevant products. An example from a different industry would be a piece of kitchen equipment developed with the help of a celebrity chef and sold via a popular kitchen equipment retailer.

Thus, Peloton uses social media as a way to engage customers with the identities of their instructors. This sets Peloton’s services apart from those of competitors. Only Peloton users can participate in fitness classes taught by these specific celebrity instructors.

Mirror is another fitness company taking a similar approach. The main hardware Mirror provides is simply a display through which users can access both live and on-demand fitness classes. Again, the real product is the content. The hardware merely provides users with a way to access it from their homes. Tonal, which has been described as “Peloton for weight-lifting,” also provides users with fitness class content they can access via home devices.

There are several reasons this service model is smart. First, it prevents other businesses from copying what companies like Mirror and Peloton are doing. Yes, other fitness companies can offer at-home equipment, but they can’t offer the same content. They would need the same instructors, and, of course, they could be accused of infringement if they were to simply copy content and offer it via their own products. This helps fitness companies offer unique products customers can’t get anywhere else.

Providing content is also a way to simply meet the expectations of today’s consumers. Again, younger customers are already using social media to discover content. Consumers in general are also using devices like smartphones more than ever. They often use those devices to download and access apps which also provide their own unique content. The approach of companies like Peloton is in fact a natural response to changing consumer behaviors.

Fitness equipment can be fairly interchangeable from one company to another. Although elite athletes may prefer to use equipment from one particular brand, many average consumers can’t tell the difference between a home gym from one brand and a similar product from another.

However, when the equipment also gives users the freedom to access unique content no other brand offers, it’s more likely to attract customer attention. That’s precisely why this content-based approach has helped the relatively new fitness brands discussed here grow incredibly quickly.