Weight Watchers is dropping more than pounds with a new, slimmer name.
The brand is adopting the title “WW” to broadcast a new emphasis on overall wellness with a revamped menu and other offerings to compete in the crowded wellness sector. The company hopes to take advantage of consumer interest in health technology like fitness trackers and mobile apps—as well as its traditional meal plans.
Weight Watchers will from next month ditch its name and rebrand as “WW” as it takes on competition from fitness trackers and phone apps and attempts to remould itself as a lifestyle tech brand.
Behind the relaunch is concern that the long-term effectiveness of diet plans is on the wane, while health and wellness are now in vogue. The US-listed firm wants to broaden its appeal and keep subscribers signed up by moving beyond a short-term diet fix to become a credo to live by, with an app that it hopes users will check as frequently as Facebook or Instagram.
The company announced the changes in a statement from its top leader.
"We are committed to always being the best weight management program on the planet, but now we're putting our decades of knowledge and expertise in behavioral science to work for an even greater mission," said Mindy Grossman, WW president and CEO. "We are becoming the world's partner in wellness. No matter what your goal is — to lose weight, eat healthier, move more, develop a positive mind-set, or all of the above — we will deliver science-based solutions that fit into people's lives."
Grossman also shared the news on Twitter:
WW has seen an increase in brand engagement after partnering with celebrity influencers, including Oprah Winfrey.
Winfrey, whose decision to invest in Weight Watchers and join the company's board has helped lead to a boom in membership and the stock price, is backing the shift.
"From the moment I chose to invest in the company and join the Board, I have believed that the role WW can play in people's lives goes far beyond a number on the scale," Winfrey said in a statement. "As Weight Watchers becomes WW, I believe we will continue to inspire people not only to eat well, but to move more, connect with others and continue to experience the joys of a healthy life."
WW has brought on actor Kevin Smith, music star DJ Khaled and celebrity chef Eric Greenspan as "ambassadors" for the company.
Its Freestyle program lets you eat a wider variety of food.
WW has also partnered with meditation company Headspace to provide exclusive content on the Weight Watchers app.
Though it’s keeping the initials of its original moniker, “WW” still lacks a clear identity in some eyes.
The company says the new name reflects its development from focusing on weight loss to overall health and wellness.
But the chief executive was unable to explain what the letters WW stood for.
Mindy Grossman said they did not stand for Weight Watchers or "Wellness that Works", a phrase the company has trade marked, but were simply "a marque".
"That marque represents our heritage and history and what we are going forward," she said.
The change was inspired by research into what customers appreciated about the company—and it had already started to appear in its outreach efforts.
As part of the overhaul, says Grossman, the company had interviewed thousands of people about how the brand impacted their lives. Not one person started their answer with how much weight they'd lost, she says; instead, each first spoke about how their lives were better or had been changed.
Even before the name change, the company was making a subtle shift beyond a weight-loss focus, promoting programs with names such as "Beyond the Scale," and had raised its profit forecast for the year.
WW ended the second quarter with 4.5 million subscribers, up 1 million from a year earlier, the company said in August. At that time, its chief financial officer said that average retention was exceeding nine months globally, which was an increase of more than 15 percent versus three years ago. "I would like to be able to start talking about retention in years, not months," says Grossman.
A major part of the change is WW’s removal of artificial sweeteners from its products.
Beyond the new name and logo—two Ws, one on top of the other, vaguely recall Volkswagen’s famous emblem—WW is in the process of shaking up its food and related products so that come January, none of them have any artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors or preservatives.
That’s no small matter: Products with those ingredients represent 70% of its sales in a category that includes products like bars, snacks, and cookbooks and generated 13% of WW’s sales last fiscal year. The company believes the category could grow dramatically. The bulk of WW’s revenue – 80%- comes from membership subscriptions, which start at $3.99 a week and extend to personal coaching plans, which begin at $12.69 per week.
On social media, some found fault:
"Guys, let's rebrand!"— Daniel Nolan (@iamdanielnolan) September 24, 2018
"Cool, what should we do?"
"No idea. Just make sure the new name takes longer to say than our old one, has no meaning, and that we don't brief our chief exec on how to talk about it."
Absolute mic drop from Weight Watchers here. https://t.co/quVCSLK52I
Weight Watchers is ditching the brand. Completely. It's going to be WW now. Not sure about the wisdom of this... https://t.co/huddfhojuY— Stephen Foley (@stephenfoley) September 24, 2018
Others found the new name unfortunate when uttered aloud:
Just heard on the radio how Weight Watchers are having a rebrand and their new logo is WW. Say this out loud and it says ‘double u double u’ .. surely they should promising to half you not double you ??? #weightwatchers— Diana Mahon (@dianamahon) September 24, 2018
What do you think of the rebranding, PR Daily readers?
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