Pi Attitude Zone: Connectivity & Drive

Weight Worth Watching

Weight Watchers has established itself as a successful business by any measure.   Launched half a century ago, it has captured over 40% of a market worth an estimated 2.4 billion dollars in the USA.  The WW formula (pacing yourself against your peers at member meetings, which you pay to attend) has been exported to dozens of countries worldwide, helping people everywhere to shed the pounds and lead healthier lives.

But recently the company may have met its limits, falling prey to a number of new societal trends.

WW’s first twenty-five years seemed to promise unstoppable growth, as weight-control and slimming regimes increasingly gripped the public imagination.  Then along came the ‘blowout decade’ of the 1990s, when waistlines started expanding faster, diets somehow lost their appeal, and growing numbers of the overweight stopped being so worried about the flab. 

In the 2000s, low-carb meals, diet pills and surgical procedures all took their toll on the ‘hard work’ Weight Watchers approach.  But many still chose WW meetings as the tried-and-true option.  Memberships ticked up again.  Dieter communities formed, attended weekly meetings, and encouraged each other to fight the flab on a mutual support basis.  Before-and-after pictures became personal trophies, and led the charge in Weight Watchers advertising. 

Recently business has once again been declining.  One reason has been the financial recession, which has been tightening belts in non-commercial ways.  But perhaps the biggest impact has been from social media and internet apps, forming online dieter communities which have challenged the physical gatherings at the core of the WW business model.  Why pay to attend a meeting when your smartphone can tell you how you’re doing through online activity monitors?  Now your cyber-buddies can remotely track your every up or down weight movement in real time, and it doesn’t cost you, or them, a cent.  Younger people are increasingly inclined to foregather electronically, rather than physically.

Curbing the onset of obesity is still a major and growing societal preoccupation.  It’s just that the Weight Watchers way of watching your weight... may no longer be worth the wait.

Zone: Connectivity & Drive Country: Multiple Geographies Product – Business / Professional