Merchants to Target the Weight Loss Market with New Strategies

By any measure, the majority of U.S. consumers have a weight problem. The most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicate that 34% of consumers over age 20 are obese and 34% are overweight (but not obese). The numbers for children are not much better, although only 10% of kids between the ages of 2–5 are considered obese. This problem has resulted in a big market for merchants who sell weight loss or weight control products and services.

Updated research from Marketdata Enterprises shows that the total value of the U.S. weight loss and diet control market reached $60.9 billion in 2010. Historically, about 70% of consumers who attempt to lose weight have done so by using ‘free and low-​cost do-​it-​yourself’ plans. During the recession, that number jumped to 80%.  Consumers who are trying to lose weight embark on a diet about 4 times a year.

The weight loss market includes the following categories:

  • Commercial weight loss chains, including small local operators: $3.14 billion
  • Retail diet pills/​meal replacements: $2.69 billion
  • Diet websites: $842 million
  • Diet food/​home delivery services: $942 million

In addition, consumers turn to supervised medical programs often based at U.S. community hospitals. Prescription diet drugs represent another channel for consumers who want to lose weight. And when all else fails, consumers are turning to lap banding and gastric bypass procedures.

Marketdata Enterprises Research Director John LaRosa notes that 75 million U.S. consumers are dieting at any time. The new economic reality for many consumers leaves little extra money for expensive weight loss solutions. LaRosa also points out that dieters are “are fickle and shift from fad to fad.”

Marketers who have effective and less-​expensive solutions will likely target consumers willing to pay for their products and services.

[Source: Fastats. Obesity and Overweight. CDC​.gov. Web. 25 May 2011; U.S. Weight Loss Market Worth $60.9 Billion. Marketdata Enterprises. 11 May 2011. Web. 26 May 2011] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.