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Marketing Case Study: Weight Watchers Leads the Weight-Loss Race

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By Fausto Mendez

We love to break down complex marketing campaigns to uncover the core motives of human behavior that fuel corporate success. This week, we’re analyzing Weight Watchers and the company’s classic marketing techniques. 

    Weight Watchers continues to dominate the weight-loss game with over $1.2 billion revenue each year and 8 million website visitors per month, and it’s closest competitors are about a third of its size. This constant success stems from a solid product that delivers results, but behind every great product is an even greater marketing campaign. Below, we break down the principles that made and continue to make the company’s marketing campaigns so damn successful. .

+ Sell the consequences. The average Weight Watchers customer isn’t interested in the product itself. Actually, the idea of self control is scary or boring, so why are people lining up for a membership? They want the consequences associated with that self control. They want the success, intimate relationships, fitness, appearance, money and whatever else results from losing weight, and they want to eat what they want while getting it. Weight Watchers sells the consequences, not the product.

+ Sell happiness. Weight Watches sells happiness, not a weight loss system. Similar to the previous point, the idea is to focus on the internal (emotional) results, not the actual product. 

+ Offer a test drive. Weight Watchers allows prospective customers to “join” the service for free. Furthermore, Weight Watches doesn’t force prospective customers to hand over a credit card number to do this. This style of free trials produces about a 30% conversion rate, which is not bad at all. 

+ Make it easy. The PointsPlus system makes it easy for customers to track calories without actually tracking calories. Sure, it’s based on basic nutritional science, but the target audience hates learning. PointsPlus is much easier in the short term. 

+ Exclusive products make it hard to leave the proprietary system. Weight Watchers sells (and sometimes gives away) PointsPlus calculators, snack foods, frozen meals, ice creams and other products that make it even easier to track calories. These products actually serve a brilliant marketing purpose because they: 1. boost brand awareness at key locations within supermarkets (where the target audience spends a lot time) and 2. make counting calories the traditional way even more tedious. 

+ Seek out new audiences. Your audience can get stale if you don’t actively court new targets. Weight Watchers recently started marketing to men, but they don’t expect men to show up at the meetings where 90% of the attendants are women. As a result, the company launched online tools and mobile apps that help men diet on their own - since men often prefer to diet alone. 

    As a marketing professional, it’s hard not to get jealous when a company’s marketing campaign is consistently successful, but that’s why we’re here to break it down. Happy hunting! And thanks to  Marketing Profs for the core data

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