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A Weight Watchers Case Study: How Smart Marketing Pays Off

by Matthew Denos  |  
March 28, 2013

The weight loss industry is just huge, with the annual revenue of the US weight loss industry some $61 billion. That means lots of businesses are cashing in on obesity, as 108 million people are on diets in the US alone at any point in time.

How lucrative is this business? Just look at how much celebrities are paid to endorse major weight loss programs. The fee is as high as $3 million, ABC News reports.

One of the companies doing exceptionally well in the industry is Weight Watchers, a weight management system that has become a veritable way of life for millions of people across the globe—from the US and China to Europe and New Zealand. It's a case study of how savvy marketing can propel a company to the forefront of its industry.

Weight Watchers is clearly the dominant company among weight-loss centers and programs, banking north of $1.2 billion each year. It is at least three times larger than its primary competitors, Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig. Weight Watchers has some 8 million website visitors per month and 1.72 million paid online subscribers.

So what are the company's marketing secrets? Let's take a look at six savvy principles Weight Watchers has implemented to solidify its position at the top of the weight-loss stack.

1. Give them what they want, not what they need

We are driven by our desires. We buy expensive fast cars because we crave the "success" image associated with them, not because they are a sensible mode of transportation. We want iPhones because they are a status symbol, not because of the crystal clear voice reception. Same with Jimmy Choos, and Louis Vuitton bags. Sales of such products are all driven by wants.

Weight-loss products are no different. We may know that the key to losing weight is to cut out junk food and eat more vegetables. But that's not what we want. We want to be able to eat our donuts and drink our Frappuccinos. And, smartly, Weight Watchers lets us do that.

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Matthew Denos, PhD is an entrepreneur, biologist, and blogger who studies and reviews Weight Watchers and other clinically proven weight loss programs.

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  • by Janna Markle Thu Mar 28, 2013 via web

    Excellent and concise article. The many licensed products that Weight Watchers has on the market makes following the program easy for the consumer and generates millions $ for WW. Licensing is a beautiful vehicle for brand extension and growth.

  • by ubonky Sat Mar 30, 2013 via web

    excellent article

  • by Tania Koujou Sun Mar 31, 2013 via web


    I have also read that Weight Watchers started when a woman was striving to lose weight and then she understood this was a need among her girl friends. So, they started to share what they know about dieting and exercsing. This "support-group" composed of a few ladies trying to lose weight became Weigh-Watchers' today.
    So, it is about creating a community, fulfilling a need in the market, sharing information, taking feedback, and creating an environment of positive feelings (motivation, perseverance, commitment...)
    That is an important key behind the success of weight watchers.

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