Weight-Loss Brands Shift Away from Preaching What to Eat to Promoting Celebrities and Reaching Women at Work

Marketing to Women: Addressing Women and Women's Sensibilities, June 2012 | Go to article overview

Weight-Loss Brands Shift Away from Preaching What to Eat to Promoting Celebrities and Reaching Women at Work


The news that Jessica Simpson is being paid $4 million by Weight Watchers to act as spokesperson while shedding her baby weight illustrates how much the weight-loss industry has changed in recent years. Weight-loss brands are now willing to pay big bucks to sign well-known celebrity endorsers. Mariah Carey serves as the face of Jenny Craig, Jennifer Hudson represents Weight Watchers, and Janet Jackson is spokesperson for Nutrisystem.

$65 Billion Dollar Industry

These A-List stars command significant sums for their endorsements, but weight-loss brands have the money to meet these demands. The total weight-loss industry takes in more than $65 billion each year, according to Marketdata Enterprises. Of that, commercial weight-loss chains, such as Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers, are expected to generate $3.6 billion in sales in 2012, up 5.5% year-over-year, per Marketdata.

Perhaps the most significant shift for weight-loss brands is an ever-growing consumer base. Americans are overweight, and they don't want to stay that way. There are an estimated 108 million U.S. dieters in the U.S. right now, spanning all ages, genders, and race/ethnicities. That said, women are the biggest consumers of weight loss products and services, representing 84% of total sales.

While all weight-loss brands are promoting the same result, they use varying approaches to achieve weight loss and have varied approaches to marketing and advertising (see spotlight on pages 2-3).

One of the emerging trends among weight-loss brands is a focus on a 360 approach that deemphasizes the traditional concept of dieting. Many companies aren't dictating the content of meals or labeling specific foods off-limits so much as they are educating members about general lifestyle changes, such as recommending regular medical checkups and shopping for fresh foods at farmers' markets.

Another key focus for these companies is shifting their focus away from signing individual clients to courting corporations. Marketdata reports this segment earns at least $215 million in the U.S. each year, though this figure does not include medical-or insurance-based efforts. …

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