Read This Before You Join Weight Watchers

Weight watchers groupAssociated PressSinger and actress Jennifer Hudson poses with members of Weight Watchers. The brand is moving away from celebrity endorsements in a new set of ads.

Weight Watchers is in trouble. 

Sales have declined for seven quarters, with executives blaming the popularity of new apps from competitors. 

But a troubling statistic could show why Weight Watchers is struggling.

“The program costs the average user about $US377 a year and results in a weight loss of only 5 pounds,” Businessweek writes, citing a Duke University study. 

Weight Watchers Online charges new members a one-time fee of $US29.95 and then $US18.95 per month. Members also spend money to drive to events and meetings.

The program is much more expensive than apps like the FuelBand, Fitbit, and MyFitnessPal. And it isn’t necessarily effective. 

The same Duke study found that Jenny Craig, which provides food for members, costs $US2,500 for a weight loss of 16 pounds. 

The company is offering a revamped app with fitness coaching to improve sales. It’s also taking a more blunt approach with marketing. 

In its new commercial, Weight Watches acknowledges that “our relationship with food is complicated,” reports Claire Suddath at Bloomberg Businessweek. The ad includes images of a woman eating cheese puffs in a bathtub, and a man stuffing appetizers in his face at a party. 

The brand normally relies on celebrity spokespeople like Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Hudson. 

The business of weight loss is a great opportunity. Almost 70% of American adults or overweight or obese. 

If Weight Watchers want to improve business, it will need to learn to keep up with its cheaper competitors.

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