Mindy Grossman

Having a purpose is non-negotiable for a business in 2018, according to Weight Watchers International president and chief executive officer Mindy Grossman.

“Everyone in this room may define themselves as being in the beauty business, but in today’s world, we must all be in the purpose business — empowering individuals, embracing transparency, personalizing experiences and helping people live their most connected life of meaning,” Grossman said. “This is critical for brands and businesses.”

Since taking the helm of Weight Watchers last summer, Grossman is focused on modernizing the weight management company for today’s wellness-oriented consumer.

“We’re rethinking our brand and business and empowering people to redefine and own what healthy means to them – we want all people to embrace their healthy and empower them to make the best life they can for themselves.”

Driving the company’s transformation is a list of what Grossman identified as six “global consumer truths” — ideologies that are shaping consumer behavior today. These included things such as “people want inspiration, not just information;” “healthy is the new skinny;” “it’s not about lifestyle, it’s about livability,” and “people crave purpose and value trust above all else.”

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In amassing the insight and data that led to Grossman’s consumer truths, she and her team discovered a paradox — despite more access to information about health and wellness than ever before, along with modern advancements in science and food, consumers are more confused and more unhealthy than ever. She also noted that despite oversaturation of information on the Internet, underserved communities still lack access to many factors in a healthy lifestyle, such as fresh food.

For Grossman, solving that paradox is driving Weight Watchers’ transformation strategy. It led to the creation of its “Impact Manifesto” — the company’s strategic vision to make wellness accessible to all consumers while growing revenue to $2 billion by the end of 2020.

Driving the Impact Manifesto are more of what Grossman calls “universal truths” — wisdoms she imparts to employees as they work to transform the company, including a global mind-set, brand focus and human-centric values.

The internal shift in messaging has translated into external changes for Weight Watchers members — and Grossman says they are working. The company’s more flexible Freestyle program, launched in December, has led to the highest retention and subscriber rates in its history.

Weight Watchers currently as 4.6 million members enrolled in its digital program, WW Connect, and 1.6 million who attend 30,000 live meetings a week. Grossman is taking this community element a step further by creating a network of 200 influencers that “reflect the diverse community we are trying to reach,” from Oprah Winfrey to DJ Khaled. The company’s app and technology offerings will becoming increasingly personalization-driven, while its community events program is growing — a kitchen food truck just ended a 20-city tour, and the company this year held its third WW cruise attended by 1,000 people.

Grossman is also shifting the company’s events and marketing focus from January-centric to a year-round schedule. This summer, Weight Watchers will launch the Summer of Impact campaign — including the company’s first refer-a-friend integration in its app, Freestyle community events around the country and a social impact campaign to provide underserved communities with fresh food.

Instituting a “purpose filter” is what Grossman said helps Weight Watchers determine if its next moves are aligned with its strategic vision.

“It’s more important what you don’t do than what you do,” she said. “We’re focusing our efforts on, ‘Will it improve? Will it retain? Will it elevate the brand? Will it add value to people’s lives?'”

Grossman first applied the purpose filter to the company’s food products, eliminating any items with artificial sweeteners or ingredients — 70 percent of its existing sku’s have already been cut. Next up will be putting the company’s branding through the purpose filter. “How are we going to relaunch all our branding to feel more relevant, to feel like a wellness brand, bold, transparent and joyful, and consistent globally at everything we do?” said Grossman. “Because a brand is an expression of purpose.”

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