Dieters: The Skinny on Weight Conscious Consumers
No pun intended, but weight loss is a big concern throughout the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 30 percent of Americans 20 years of age and older—some 60 million people—are obese. The percentage of overweight young people also has increased exponentially, tripling since 1980. Currently, 16 percent of teens aged 6 to 19 years are considered overweight. And, since being overweight or obese can lead to serious health problems, many Americans now actively are fighting the battle of the bulge.
The Scope of the Market
The market for weight-loss products decidedly is female. According to Julio Rodriguez, owner and president of Union City, N.J.-based list management and brokerage firm Bulls Eye Marketing Inc., which handles a number of diet-related lists, 66 percent of all dieters are female. In comparison, he notes, "on any given day, one in four men are on a diet." At least 51 million people in the United States are dieting to lose or control their weight, according to Rodriguez. And, two out of three people dieting are more likely to be found in rural rather than urban counties.
According to Scott Parker, vice president of marketing for Carlsbad, Calif.-based weight management company Jenny Craig Inc., within this female demographic, dieters "tend to be between the ages of 25 and 54, married, college educated and interested in losing 40 to 45 pounds." However, as household size increases, the likelihood that someone is dieting decreases, cites Rodriguez. After all, it's difficult to focus on dieting with a busy household full of kids.
Regardless of whether they're on the East or West Coast, in the city or the country, dieters spend as much as $2 billion on weight control products per year, according to Rodriguez. If you add on other types of diet products and services, such as meal replacement plans, the amount multiplies to approximately $34 billion, he says.
Where's the Spend?
For the most part, diet-related products fall into two categories: meal replacements and appetite suppressants, says Rodriguez. "That probably ties in a lot to the psychographics," he notes. "I think you've got two types of people: Those who basically want the quick fix and those who are more health oriented."
In fact, the concept of dieting has changed over the years, with greater emphasis placed on healthy eating, rather than deprivation. Parker says, "We believe that most dieters—particularly after trying 'quick fix' approaches that may not have worked for them—are interested in a balanced, comprehensive and safe approach to weight loss." Which may account for the high profiles of weight management companies such as Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers.
Along with primary products and services such as appetite suppressants and meal replacement options, other products of interest to the weight conscious include exercise apparel, sports clubs and diet-related publications.
A Touch of Humor
When reaching out to dieters, whether via direct mail, e-mail or TV advertising, Parker suggests a little humor goes a long way. "With all of the self-image and health implications involved with being overweight, weight loss is a serious subject and ours is a fairly serious business. However, Jenny Craig's current marketing campaign is taking higher ground," he describes. "Through our promotion of Kirstie Alley and integration of her honest, straightforward humor, we believe we have created a paradigm shift around the perception that weight loss can actually be a positive experience, instead of a painful one."
However, you don't have to execute an elaborate media campaign to reach weight-conscious consumers. For instance, Herbalife, a provider of weight management, nutritional supplement and personal care products, recently has had success using a postcard with an inbound number so prospects can call in to qualify themselves. According to Rodriguez, whose firm Bulls Eye Marketing worked on the campaign, the company feels the postcard is the most cost effective for them. "The objective is to try to better target their market, rather than put something out there that's broad-scoped and generic," he explains.
Along with the message and the choice of media, when you reach out to dieters can be as important as how you reach out. Come holiday time, the tendency to overindulge combined with the urge to turn over a new, healthier leaf in the new year, drive increased demand for diet-related products. "Without a doubt, it's a big time of the year for diet mailers," says Rodriguez. "I know for my clients, January is a big month."
Another aspect to consider is that for many customers, dieting tends to be cyclical. Unfortunately, people tend to regain the weight they lose because a particular diet doesn't work for them, so they may be open to new, diet-related offers throughout the year. For this reason, Rodriguez says he's seen weight-loss companies mail the 60- or 90-day hotline names from another diet company's buyer file. "Unfortunately for some people, [dieting's] a novelty; they try [a diet] for a few weeks, and then the novelty wears off and they engage in a new diet. I think that's another example of a timing factor," he notes.
Given the significance of this market, isn't it time you made a New Year's resolution to connect with weight conscious consumers?
Lists to Test:
Absolute Diet Weight Loss Responders: 2.9 million people who want to lose weight. Price: $85/M. Call: Great Lakes List Management Inc., (814) 456-2175.
Active Dieters: 175,000 online responders and buyers of weight loss products. Price: $110/M. Call: Paramount List, (814) 459-8787.
Diet & Weight Loss Product Buyers: More than 3 million buyers of products and information to help reach weight loss goals. Price: $100/M. Call: The Catamount Group, (203) 778-4110.
EZ Weight Loss Buyers: 18,403 dieters who purchase multiple diet products on a weekly basis. Price: $100/M. Call: Bulls Eye Marketing, (201) 770-9000.
Healthy Source Weight Loss/Diet Consumers: 91,917 weight loss and diet consumers who subscribe to newsletters for an online counseling network. Price: $100/M. Call: Wholesale Lists, (888) 808-3282.
Natural Weight Loss: 27,000 buyers of an all-natural weight loss product. Price: $90/M. Call: Country Marketing, (315) 895-7737.
Rodale Whole Life Bookbuyers Masterfile: 3.8 million Rodale book buyers looking for information to help them achieve a healthier, more fulfilled lifestyle. Price: $100/M. Call: American List Counsel, (609) 580-2769.
Ultra Slim Down Weight Loss Plan: 165,155 buyers of a diet program that is an all natural combination of seven specially formulated ingredients. Price: $95/M. Call: The List Authority, (201) 666-0100.
Weight Loss and Diet Conscious Consumers: 5.6 million consumers who have expressed interest in diet and weight control information. Price: $70/M. Call: Infocore, (760) 607-2500.
Weight Loss and Health Product Buyers: 2.7 million individuals who have purchased weight loss products with a credit card or by check. Price: $130/M. Call: OmniPoint Marketing, (954) 202-6000.
Weight Loss Inquirers & Buyers: 735,120 buyers of and inquirers about products that can help them lose weight and improve their health. Price: $85/M. Call: North American Mailing Associates, (310) 657-3877.