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WW's acknowledgment of a changing society is a message that carries weight

The original Weight Watchers approach seemed outdated.

WEIGHT WATCHERS HAS announced that it is rebranding itself as WW.

Weight Watchers New Name Source: Amy Sussman/PA Images

And while initial reports suggested that WW was an acronym for Wellness that Works, apparently that is not the case.

According to CEO, Mindy Grossman, the WW doesn’t stand for anything in itself, but will, indeed, be used alongside the tagline ‘Wellness that Works’.

That marque represents our heritage and history and what we are going forward. This is just a next step, a point of validation. Like any brand we have to stay relevant.

While the move has been met with scorn online – cue countless Double You, Double You gags – the company’s decision to drop ‘weight’ from its title and incorporate the concept of ‘wellness’ indicates that it is taking heed of a changing narrative around health, self-care, and body ideals.

As it should.

Founded in the United States in 1963, the programme has spent more than 50 years focussing almost solely on the scales, and in a society which is now well versed in the physical and emotional impact ineffective diets can have on the individual, the Weight Watchers approach seemed outdated.

Even the most casual consumer of health and fitness content will know the importance of combining a nutrition plan with an exercise regime when it comes to changing the body’s composition and – and as is generally the goal – maintaining those changes.

And when nowadays so many of us know that a healthy body comes down to so much more than simply swapping out a Twix for two WeightWatcher biscuits, calorie-counting alone doesn’t cut it anymore.

NY: Second-quarter earnings calls Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

While the vast majority of people approach Weight Watchers because they are no longer happy with their appearance, each person has their own individual story, not to mention size, shape, sex and shortcomings.

The one-size-fits-all approach no longer, well, fits.

And with the launch of their new app, WW proves it knows this.

Explaining how the app reflects the company’s new approach to its clients, WW chief technology officer Michael Lysaght tells Digiday:

What we want to do is deliver an experience that meets our customers’ needs, and I think to do that well, we have to understand them better, and that centers around the data they provide. It’s all about using the data to help them on their journey in a way that will help them be more successful.

While WW don’t intend to phase out their point system, it will be adapted to cater to the individual while also promoting various physical activities, from HIIT to strength, which will help them reach their goals.

And that’s not all.

WW will also provide guidance from a mental and emotional perspective, finally cottoning on to the fact that embarking on a physical overhaul requires more than just a food diary and a points calculator.

Finding the right New Year's diet: Our first look, Weight Watchers Source: TNS/ABACA

As someone who was once a member of Weight Watchers, I can attest that the vast majority of meetings centred around food, the concept of guilt and the vague idea that if the scales didn’t move (in the right direction) once a week, you were a failure.

The latter was undoubtedly born of my own insecurities and lack of knowledge on the health and fitness front, but it arguably wouldn’t manifest under the company’s new focus.

By reframing their mission and prioritising wellness over weight, highlighting the positive impact a healthy diet and regular exercise has on the body and mind, and most importantly, reminding their clients that a sense of well-being will always trump a number on the scales, WW have dragged themselves into the 21st century.

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About the author:

Niamh McClelland

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