With almost a third of our citizens considered to be obese and half considered overweight, America is heavier than its ever been. Such a disturbing trend will create some serious problems of course. But where some may see problems, enterprising individuals might see opportunity. America's rapidly expanding waistline translates into a increasing population in the target market for the weight loss products, which encompasses everything from gym memberships, to work out DVD's, to fad diets and reality television shows.
The commercial diet plan Weight Watchers is a fixture in this world of weight loss world. Weight Watchers, along with its smaller competitors Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig, generate the majority of the $3.3 billion commercial weight loss plan category that has been built by the wallets of women.
Naturally, they're trying to change that. Following in the footsteps of Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig's celebrity backed campaigns for male weight loss plans, Weight Watchers is putting $10 million of marketing muscle behind its campaign for men. The ads are promoting Weight Watchers' male-specific website, launched quietly in 2007, rather than its meeting-based service. According to Chief Marketing Officer Cheryl Callan, since launching the website, "we've seen a lot more male success stories come though and that inspired us to think we have an opportunity here."
They're plenty of fat men walking around so Ms. Callan assertion of opportunity in the male weight loss market seems logical. The opportunities are just not for Weight Watchers.
Weight Watchers was able to grow into a $1.46 billion company through a strong demographic focus on women. While it may be logical to say, "if it works for women then it will work for men," customers prove everyday that logic doesn't matter in a cluttered marketplace. Weight Watchers brand doesn't have the authenticity with guys that male targeted brands like P90X or Crossfit do (although different products).
In order to take advantage of opportunities in a different market, Weight Watchers needs a different product and a different brand. By extending their core brand they didn't do either. Compare the male targeted site with the traditional female site. If the website is any indication, it appears to be the same product. Meanwhile, adding "for men" to the name isn't a new brand.
In business, the fast and easy money might look good in the short term, but like a fad diet, the brand eventually pays in the end.