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Marketing weight loss prior to the 20th century would have been analogous to marketing blankets in a desert; being obese used to be a super cool way to tell people that you were rich and well nourished. The average American’s knowledge of William H. Taft extends no further than the fact that he (allegedly) got stuck in the White House bathtub. You think he would have gotten elected had he run (or walked briskly for 30-35 minutes, three times per week) on a platform of CrossFit and lentil burgers? Please.
Now, of course, the opposite is true: obesity is rampant and people are willing to try just about anything to lose a few pounds. It should come as no surprise, then, that the American weight loss industry is valued at roughly $68 billion. Marketing to overweight and obese Americans means marketing to the majority of Americans.
Who is doing this marketing? You know the big names: WeightWatchers, NutriSystem, Jenny Craig, etc. These commercial brands are massively popular because they guarantee fast results with minimal effort. They recognize that the average American cannot make or find time for meal prepping and exercise. They make weight loss easy, and they expect high sales going forward as disposable incomes grow. If you’re marketing a meal subscription, your advertisements must emphasize the ease of use as much as the health benefits.
Retails giants have noticed, and they want in on the action: places like Amazon and Walmart are now offering diet plans to their customers. Plus, retailers are home to the hundreds and hundreds of diet and weight loss products, ranging from diet sodas to low-calorie granola bars to protein-packed shakes. As consumers continue to jump from trend to trend in search of the perfect solution, the market for healthy, pre-packaged meal replacements will grow further.
One small caveat: young consumers are as fiscally minded as they are healthfully minded. Millennials tend to favor inexpensive dieting and weight loss methods, like clean meal planning, exercising, and cutting out junk foods. So, if you’re in the weight loss marketing business and you’re targeting 20-somethings, an emphasis on free apps and lifestyle tools is a smart move.
Social media is a huge part of the weight loss industry, particularly when it comes to exercise. Gym-goers frequently document their workouts, and fitness accounts are increasingly popular on Instagram. Elsewhere, there are countless YouTube videos that aim to teach viewers about everything from yoga to deadlifting.
And who could forget about food pictures? For some people, the best part of starting a new diet regiment is showcasing it to their friends online. Plus, few types of content capture Facebook users’ attention quite like the recipe video; if your product involves prepping or cooking, consider breaking down the process in an aesthetically pleasing video shorter than two minutes. Anyone seeking to market a product or service related to weight loss should take advantage of the massive influence social media exerts.