WW CEO Mindy Grossman calls the business formerly known as Weight Watchers “a technology company with a human-centric overlay” — which sounds more like the mission statement of a warm and fuzzy Silicon Valley startup than a 57-year-old brand known for weekly group weigh-in meetings and food-tracking booklets.
But that’s sort of the point. Grossman, who was named president and CEO in 2017, has been investing heavily in technology to enrich and customize members’ weight-loss journeys with launches like myWW, its first program to match members with a personalized plan.
It’s got little choice but to take that path if WW wants to stay relevant, she believes.
In an era when consumers consume hyper-curated everything, be it their Spotify playlists or Peloton workout routines, “people want to be recognized as an individual,” Grossman told CO—during the National Retail Federation’s show, so WW must oblige.
While the notion of community and its 30,000 weekly group meetings nationwide are fundamental to WW’s DNA, Grossman is steering the brand to do much more than help members lower numbers on a scale, by spreading the gospel of holistic wellness.
From personalized digital health tools to its Oprah 2020 Vision motivational tour (Winfrey is a WW shareholder) to a partnership with Kohl’s department stores, Grossman shares how WW is creating a platform that delivers consumers an “eco-system of well-being.”
Our biggest investments over the last number of years have been in technology built around the power of customization and personalization.
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CO—: What’s a big goal this year and how will it be executed at WW?
MG: For us it’s really about having as big an impact as we can on the health trajectory and giving people the tools to live a healthier, better life, sustainably.
[In January] we kicked off the WW presents Oprah’s 2020 vision tour in Fort Lauderdale Our feeling is by the end of the tour in March, we will have had over 100,000 people, but those 100,000 people are going to inspire 10 times and 100 times [as many people]. And if we can create the ripple effect, and create the impact that we truly want to have, that’s truly our desire.
CO—: How is WW addressing the changing consumer?
MG: We will never abdicate our leading position in science-based healthy weight loss built on the power of inspired community, but today people want more.
So, we’ve built an ecosystem system of wellbeing — nutrition, activity, mindset and motivation, and always of critical importance, community, which is what the company is built on. The tours are an example of that, as are our 30,000 workshops per week globally.
But now we are really a technology experience company with a human-centric overlay, aiming to have as significant an impact as we can.
CO—: How will that tech-enabled human-centric overlay drive your business today?
MG: Our biggest investments over the last number of years have been in technology built around the power of customization and personalization. We launched our newest program in the history of the company [in November 2019]. It’s completely customized and personalized, we’ll take an assessment for you. It’s been our most popular program ever in all markets. Today, people want to be recognized as an individual, and the more we can personalize and use tech to be able to do that, the more powerful it will be.
CO—: Last year WW teamed with Fidelity Investments on a video series that tackled financial health and physical health as interrelated concerns. Is there more to come from that partnership?
MG: We are definitely continuing the conversation because, look, one of the biggest issues with health today is stress and sleep. We’re doing big pilots on sleep. If you look at the aspects of stress, it could be relational, it could be health, and it could be financial. So as we look at the whole ecosystem, [those factors are] important as well, so the more we can partner, the better.
CO—: What’s the strategic thinking behind partnering with Kohl’s department stores?
MG: We have an incredible partnership with Kohl’s. A few months ago we launched a 1,600-square-foot [WW-branded wellness] studio in Dekalb, Illinois.
[For the month of January] we launched 48 wellness pop-ups across Kohl’s stores in 12 markets, some around where the Oprah tour stops are, where people could come in, and they could meet with a coach, and they could talk about their wellness goals to start the new year, in addition to having our [Healthy Kitchen kitchenware] products in their stores.
If we’re going to reach as many people as we want to reach, it’s really [about] having our brand show up in different venues in different ways to different audiences. That’s really what we’re looking to do.
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Published March 10, 2020