Blogging Off the Bulge: The Slimming Effects of Cyberspace

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Posted At: May 14, 2008 9:59 AM
by Katie Lynn McInnish

With the expansion of the Internet, as well as the expansion of America’s waistline, it is no wonder that diet gurus have blended the two together. Weight-loss warriors today can opt for support every step of the way without paying big bucks for trainers, cooks or hypnotists. Weight-loss plans no longer stop at meetings and meal deliveries. Customers want experts to e-mail, doctors to comment and fellow dieters to encourage. So, how has the billion-dollar weight-loss industry adapted to include these new personal demands for its customers?

According to Business Wire, people are attracted to the sense of community that an online diet site offers. The article explains that on http://www.SparkPeople.com “members post their comments on message boards and can join one of the thousands of teams that are grouped around a common theme or lifestyle, such as a work group, new moms or people over 50.” This grouping aids the Web site’s visitors and allows them to not feel isolated or overwhelmed.

Web sites like SparkPeople.com are a growing trend in social media today. Another example of an online industry success is http://www.MyFoodDiary.com. For a monthly fee of $9, members of MyFoodDiary can log in their calories, nutrients, exercise and recipes while searching through the support forum and motivational reports.

These sites have utilized feedback from consumers to provide them with the tools they need to successfully lose weight. One question to consider, though, is how have the traditional weight-loss companies, such as Slim Fast and Weight Watchers, reacted to this new trend of personalized and private dieting?

As for Slim Fast, the change has been easy. Their new slogan, “Find Your Slim,” appeals to the growing consumer need for permanent, healthy weight loss. Therese Caruso, EVP for strategy and planning at Ogilvy Public Relations, says in a recent PRWeek article, “In PR we always look for what is going on in culture so that we can tap into what the press is writing about. At end of 2006, Spain’s Fashion Week banned models size 0 and 2, and then Cosmopolitan banned models smaller than size 8 and we thought, ‘Wow this is just starting to gain headway here and we can we take the messaging of ‘Find Your Slim’ and really adapt it to what we’re hearing.’”

Weight Watchers, too, has included the changing needs of its publics into its programs. Online “eTools” can be utilized with the program selected, allowing customers the option of privacy as opposed to meetings. While the online tools mirror those of free or cheaper diet sites, the established brand image and reputation of Weight Watchers give more credibility to the support provided in its “convenient and customized online plan.” In fact, Weight Watchers stands out from its competition by utilizing the newer trend of video blogging, or vlogging. The company’s newest campaign, “Stop Dieting, Start Living,” is echoed through a personal journey to lose weight.

The diet and fitness industry is far from fleeting in today’s world filled with celebrity obsessions and fast food addictions. As more and more resolutions are made, it is important to examine how dieters defeat the bulge, as well as how they fail. By listening to feedback and following trends, practitioners can help change how people approach health and wellness. Fortunately, public relations strategies allow access to valuable and vital information, giving clients exposure, as well as giving consumers the weapons they need to battle the bulge.

Sources:

Ward, David. (2008, March 13). Front and CenterPR Week US Online.

High, Kamau. (2008, January 18). Weight Watchers Enlists VloggerBrandweek Online.

(2007, December 5). Revolution Health NetworkBusiness Wire Online.

Are there any other ways the weight-loss industry can cater to our cyber needs?

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