Why is Weight Watchers Making a Name Change?

Weight Watchers meeting room.

Weight loss program mainstay, Weight Watchers is dropping a key portion of its name: weight. The company, which has been in business since 1963 made the bold move to transform the company’s name from Weight Watchers to simply, “WW” with the tagline, “Wellness that works,” MarketWatch reports.

Moving away from the focus on weight loss, the company announced it wanted the brand to include other aspects of health and wellness. In a statement, CEO Mindy Grossman said the company is “committed to always being the best weight management program on the planet,” CNN reports.

The brand has always enjoyed celebrity recognition. Recent additions include celebrities like Kevin Smith, celebrity chef Eric Greenspan, and DJ Khaled to the company’s ambassador program, according to CNN. The group joins WW spokesperson, Oprah Winfrey.

So what’s in a name? And why is Weight Watchers changing its iconic name?

The transformation is a long time coming

While the new name announcement sounds like a sudden pivot, it isn’t. A new logo was introduced in 2012 that has made its way more and more into materials through the years, according to Fast Company. Beginning in 2015, the company moved toward diminishing the “diet” mantra because it felt too restrictive. Grossman told Fast Company that it is no longer about weight but rather being preventative and living a healthy life.

The company also introduced “Freestyle,” which was a new way to track food intake, Vox reports.  But loyalists didn’t like the new approach, even starting a Change.org petition. The argument was that Freestyle was actually more restrictive and the diet became similar to Atkins.

Focus shifts to health over diet

The notion of being on a diet no longer resonates with consumers, according to a 2017 survey by Mintel. In fact, over half of survey respondents considered the term “dieting” to be outdated. Darren Seifer from NPD Group said to MarketWatch, “For the longest time we’ve noticed that consumers don’t like being on a diet, so any notion that you’re doing something restrictive just feels like something that’s not sustainable.”

It’s how you feel (not look)

Today’s WW is more about how its customers feel rather than look. Instead, the company says the program is designed for, “anyone who wants to build healthy habits — whether that means eating better, moving more, developing a positive mindset, focusing on weight…or all of the above.”

“We are becoming the world’s partner in wellness,” Grossman said in a release, Fast Company reports. “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.”

Some program aspects will be updated

A focus on mindfulness will play a role at the new WW. The company plans to partner with meditation app, Headspace, Fast Company reports.

Also, the digital community platform, Connect will expand. Plus the company will introduce “Groups,” a forum for open discussion about interests, hobbies, and more.

Is WW really out of the ‘diet’ business?

Although WW appears to be moving away from diets, it may not be the case. WW is still focused on weight loss, Vox points out. And the company may be making this play as consumers shift to body positivity over weight loss. Some Connect posters made their position clear: “To me this is like when Kentucky Fried Chicken changed the name to KFC. It will still be the old name to most of us forever.” or “I think it’s a terrible idea. By all means, focus on healthy habits but people join because they want to lose weight. Concentrate on your core audience,” Vox reports.

Other Connect users are excited, posting, “So excited about this change! I was hoping for something like this when they came out with Freestyle. … Focusing on health is so much more sustainable than just cutting calories and only focusing on weight loss.”

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