Zwift: A review of the online cycling community’s business and revenue models

Ever wanted to keep fit, stay warm, and play video games at the same time? Zwift is your answer!

Currently my favourite online business, Zwift is a virtual cycling community that offers users endless fitness opportunities. First you set up your character, connect your indoor trainer, and then explore the gaming environment, all while working out. The idea behind Zwift is training in the comfort of your own home. Of course, you lose the atmospheric benefits of venturing on a ride outdoors… but how about the convenience!!

Some of the pro athletes using Zwift regularly! Image source

Zwift offers use for all ages, fitness levels and goals, from riding around at your own pace, to racing in competitions. There is also social networking integration on the site, which offers the use of chat and follow functions with global users. If you’re lucky, you might even bump into one of the numerous subscribed pro cyclists (as pictured) on a ride in the online community!

The gaming aspect adds another element to the experience. You get to own course records, unlock achievements and level up as you continue to ride. It is similar to models that various platforms like Wii Sports and PlayStation VR have tried before, however Zwift incorporates high level workouts and a real competitive aspect.

One of the several worlds in Zwift, and all viewed in 3rd person. Image source

With virtual realities and communities reaching major popularity in recent years, Zwift has entered into a market with serious  growth potential. Zwift  functions using the business-to-consumer (B2C) model, whereby the business delivers the services directly to the consumer in exchange for the prescribed fee. This is one of the most common online business models used.

Zwift operates under a subscription service revenue model. Users are charged an equal monthly rate for unlimited use and access to the site. This subscription is continuous, only coming to an end when the consumer decides to cancel. This is like the revenue models of Netflix and Spotify. However, there are additional, costly extras required to use Zwift, such as a bike and an indoor trainer.

A view of the home set up. Image source

In addition, there is also a ‘freemium’ aspect to their model. Freemium pricing strategies essentially give you a ‘teaser version’ of the product for free, and then they offer you the premium version for a fee once you become addicted. Zwift follows this pricing strategy by offering a very modest 30km of usage per month for free (even for the most casual rider, this won’t get you far…). Once this runs out you are unable to participate on the platform until you either wait for the next month to roll over, or upgrade your account to the premium service (which offers unlimited usage and kms). Again, Spotify follows a freemium pricing strategy, as do various cloud based file storage companies.

With roughly 500 000 users worldwide, and the recent addition of a treadmill based running option, Zwift’s current business and revenue models appear to have it in good shape for growth for many years to come.

Have a look at their website for yourself and let me know what you think!


2 thoughts on “Zwift: A review of the online cycling community’s business and revenue models

Add yours

  1. Wow this seems fantastic for maybe heavily urbanised areas, or simply for all my nerd friends that decide to be shut-ins haha. I might stick to normal cycling, nothing beats some fresh air. But I’ll keep an eye on Zwift, for sure.


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