The food industry and the weight loss industry are experiencing a convergence of marketing interests.
Jon Bon Jovi and Sir Isaac Newton walk into a juice bar. The physicist says, “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Lifting a glass of mango, papaya and acai berry juice to his lips, the rock star replies, “yes, but the more things change the more they stay the same.”
And so it is with the relationship between the food industry and the $60 billion weight loss industry. Food producers and retailers are adapting to reactions and challenges in the marketplace. While commercial weight loss chains try to rekindle relationships based on the ever-present desire among consumers for greater health and better body image. And now the two industries are looking to connect with the same consumers.
After years of working to supply a burgeoning global population, the food industry is now facing push-back, especially in Europe and the U.S., to overly processed foods, preservatives, GMOs, the use of antibiotics and other applications that promote yield, distribution and shelf stability. More than ever, consumers are concerned about what they put on their plate and what that means to their bodies. This has given rise to the better-for-you consumer and enhanced purchase appeal of premium food items, including “local” products and food that is humanly raised. Organic food sales grew 7.4% in 2012, more than double the annual growth forecast for all food sales that year.
While McDonald’s has recently launched the Egg White Delight – a lower fat, lower cholesterol McMuffin in order to lure more diet-minded patrons. On some level, the weight loss industry has always had a connection to the health-conscious consumer – or at least those who consciously want to be healthier. For the most part, people have always had an interest in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Whether the concern is founded in a quest for better health or better self-esteem, some things never change.
Some estimates maintain that two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese. And as the health-conscious, better-for-you consumer lifestyle becomes increasingly mainstream opportunities arise for a range of mutually beneficial marketing programs. Weight Forward, the in-store weight management program offered by RediClinic inside H-E-B grocery stores is one example of this type of synergy. Weight Forward is a medically supervised program which also helps participants identify nutritious foods and prepare quick and easy meals.
During the recent recession, many consumers reverted to low-cost food options. That meant that satiety often won out over nutrition. And in 2010 commercial weight loss chains saw enrollment rates impacted as many individuals opted to use free or low cost plans. During this period a near record high 80% of weight conscious individuals described themselves as “self-directed” dieters.
Now as the economy begins to recover, consumer confidence grows and more discretionary money becomes available, food producers are again looking to higher-margin premium foods for profitable growth. Weight loss clinics are beginning to see a return of those consumers looking for more structured programs – especially for medically supervised initiatives.
From specialized coupon programs and co-branded product promotions to in-store clinics and weight loss cooking classes expect to see greater convergence between the food industry and the weight loss industry.