Weight Watchers’ customers are now watching their weight online with apps instead. The weight loss company Weight Watchers’ revenue fell 10 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014. At the same time membership has dropped 15 percent. Weight Watchers’ downfall could have apps to blame.
The Weight Watchers company is largely based on coaching and support meetings. Most of the business they lost reportedly went to calorie tracker apps. The company admits they were slow to adapt to technology, but now correcting the mistake with steps such as partnering with the fitness tracker Fitbit.
The company was founded upon the idea that people need support groups and weekly meetings to lose weight and make better food decisions. Free weight loss apps show that people do not even need to leave their house to lose weight – given better food choices.
The company was founded in 1963, and its stock is now around $20 per share of stock, after a two year decline from a peak of $80 per share of stock in 2011. The struggle is also felt with other weight loss companies such as Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem.
The company now has their own fitness app, but this fitness app is different from the other apps, as stressed by the company. The app is surrounded by the idea that dieting alone isn’t easy. On average, a person makes 200 food decisions per day; weight watchers makes it easy for people, because as a group it is easier. Now people are watching their weight with apps and so Weight Watchers made their own app. The company’s app is free but for $19.95 to 69.95 a month, Weight Watchers will help people make that potentially bad late night food decision.
90 percent of the company’s customers are women, and a large portion of women are at the age of 55. A large amount of women have a weight loss resolution in 2015, yet a very few are considering Weight Watchers. The company’s downfall is also what sets it apart from the other companies – they have support meetings; half of the people who consider Weight Watchers do not join because they do not want to go to a meeting according to Lesya Lysjv, North American president of Weight Watchers. Nearly sixty percent of people who sign up for the weight loss program are online subscribers of the mobile app. The company will still provide support, motivation, and accountability for members and future members.
For now, the company’s turnaround will take longer than expected according to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jim Chambers. The company has been making modernization efforts – just not enough or not for long enough.
Former Weight Watchers CEO David Kirchhoff said he did not see wearable and calorie track-able devices as a fad; he related this to the low carb fad diet in 2000. The relatively new CEO Jim Chambers admitted that the company needed to remake it image and what it offers. Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Nicholas Hotchkin, said that they were slow to innovate and did not add value to their products.
It seems dieting is not easy, but neither is modernizing. However, the company has over one million downloads on Google Play. Weight Watchers is modernizing through the partnership with Fitbit where people can track their activity level and because of Weight Watchers very own food tracker app.
Weight Watchers’ customers are watching their weight by themselves with apps. What sets Weight Watchers apart from other companies is that they provide support; but, now people seem to be more independent. The company’s tragic flaw is that people were changing and the company was not. With the Weight Watchers app people can track their calories and receive support at the touch of a button; this is much like how the company has meetings except online.
By Jacob Dowd
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Photo by Sarah Sphar – License