Monday, January 3, 2011

For Weight Watchers Dieting has Always Been Social

Anyone interested in narrative marketing should look at the commercial weight loss industry, a fascinating business and can-do culture that promotes talking, sharing and success story testimonials. Weight Watchers International for example has a huge asset in its network of staff and members who delight in advocating the brand - holding themselves up as proof that the program works.

It’s no surprise that Weight Watchers embraces storytelling. The company began in the early 1960’s when founder Jean Nidetch, an overweight New York housewife, hosted weekly pep talks for her dieting friends. She discovered that talking about one's weight struggles and successes was highly motivating, and today millions around the world attend weekly community-based Weight Watchers meetings where sharing is integral to the program.

Of course the web has given rise to all kinds of online diets, and many incorporate peer support via social networks. Indeed Weight Watchers does, with its own private network for members supplemented by branded channels on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.  According to Mashable other dieting giants like Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem, and diet-friendly food brands, effectively use social networks, too.

Each brand is anchored in its own brand story - Weight Watchers USP is its proprietary POINTS System. But the commercial story is secondary to the millions of very real, truly engaging, utterly inspiring member stories that continually encourage fellow members to succeed while (quite organically) helping promote the superbly managed brand. 

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