We all make New Year’s Resolutions in our personal lives.  But what New Year’s Resolutions should marketers make in their professional lives?  Well, we think there are some great lessons to be learned from that most relevant of “resolutions categories”, weight loss.

As we look ahead to 2015, many Americans will make their annual ritualized resolution to lose weight.  And they will try any number of methods, in the $60B weight loss industry, to accomplish their goals.  From Do-It-Yourself (gyms, pills, books, calorie counting, etc.) to the traditional commercial programs (Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig, etc.) to surgery (lap band, etc.), January is THE time to shed those lbs.

So, if every year there seems to be (unfortunately) a seemingly unlimited demand for weight loss products and services, then why have the biggest names in weight loss recently performed so poorly?

Since 2009 revenues have plunged at Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem while their combined market capitalization declined by over 45%. Jenny Craig was purchased by Nestle and then sold to a private equity firm at a rumored significant loss vs. what Nestle paid for it in 2006.

What can marketers learn from this in making their own 2015 New Year’s Resolutions?

We believe Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig’s woes boil down to three areas:

  • Business model flaws
  • Competitive apathy
  • Lack of product and marketing innovation

Business Model Flaws:
In today’s technology-centric world, do consumers still really want to go to a weekly group meeting (Weight Watchers) or a weekly counseling session at a “weight loss center” (Jenny Craig)?  And while Nutrisystem has recently started selling their food through traditional retail channels, albeit with modest success, they still suffer from a sub-par repeat purchase rate due to their poor tasting food.  Where’s the integration of technology and social media platforms that consumers want?  Where’s the willingness to cannibalize your own distribution channels before the newer technology-based competition eats you for lunch?

Marketer’s New Year’s Resolution #1:  I will challenge the status quo and I commit to updating my business model to ensure my product or service is meeting evolving customer needs.   In other words, if it ain’t broke, I’m still willing to break it!

Competitive Apathy:
The major players have had their head in the sand as new, non-traditional, and in some cases free, competitors in the technology space such as on-line/mobile apps (e.g.,,, etc.) and fitness hardware devices (e.g., Fitbit, jawbone, etc.) have captured the imagination of weight loss seeking consumers.  Only time will tell how successful these apps and devices will be in the long term, but for now they are stealing significant share from the traditional players.  And, more importantly, after two years there has been virtually no meaningful competitive response from Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig!

Marketer’s New Year’s Resolution #2:  I will continually monitor my direct, indirect and “blind spot” competition to ensure I am not caught by surprise and I will respond quickly and appropriately to legitimate competitive threats.

Lack of Program and Marketing Innovation:
Where’s the innovation???  We all know the life-blood of consumer products and service brands is innovation, and other than Weight Watcher’s breakthrough on-line program launch in 2011, the lack of exciting, consumer-relevant program innovation delivered by the leading weight loss competitors has been staggering.  In recent years, all they’ve offered is the same old “jump start”-style programs, or “free” this or that or other run of the mill discount promotions.  From a marketing perspective, Jenny Craig brought back Kirsty Alley for “Round 2” of her weight loss journey and Nutrisystem is still relying on Marie Osmond and Dan Marino.  It’s all very tired.  So, unfortunately, 2015 appears to be another yawner from an innovation perspective.

Having nothing new and exciting to engage customers is a big problem, especially in a category where consumers are always seeking and are willing to try the next new weight loss idea.

Marketer’s New Year’s Resolution #3:  I will leave no stone unturned in seeking and implementing meaningful, customer-relevant program and marketing innovation.

So, there you have it.  The decline of the major weight loss program players can teach marketers some valuable lessons and help them make their resolutions for 2015.

What other New Year’s Resolutions do you think marketers should be considering for 2015?  Let us know!


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