There are very few negatives in this year’s outlook for the U.S. weight loss market. The largest competitors are back in high-growth mode, unemployment is down, obesity rates are still high, and more DIY dieters seem to be joining structured programs.
The industry appears to be hitting on all cylinders, propelled by a strong overall economy and continued high demand for weight loss programs by a largely overweight population.
8 Key Factors to Watch in the U.S. Weight Loss Industry
1. Weight Loss Market Growth
The total weight loss market is expected to grow 3.2% in 2018 to a value of $70.3 billion, with commercial chains and meal replacements leading the way.
2. Millennial Weight Loss Strategies
Millennials now are the largest population group, outnumbering the Baby Boomers. Their weight loss efforts are likely to focus on clean eating, exercise, convenience, and avoiding artificial sweeteners and highly processed foods. This favors WW (formerly Weight Watchers) and meal replacements, but not NutriSystem, Jenny Craig, diet soft drinks or artificial sweetener sales.
3. Rising Size Acceptance Movement
The size acceptance movement is gaining, as “plus size” models become more popular and women become more empowered. This could be one of the few headwinds for diet companies.
4. Weight Loss Programs & Retail Partnerships
Weight loss services will continue to move toward more retail distribution. Both Walmart and Amazon.com have made it clear that they want to be major players in the healthcare industry. We’ll probably see them increase the number of in-store walk-in clinics (where weight loss services can be provided), following in the footsteps of CVS, Rite-Aid and other drugstore chains.
5. Commercial Weight Loss Companies
Commercial weight loss companies are expected to post another strong year in 2018, helped by a stronger economy and higher disposable income. WW is buoyed by a new CEO, a more flexible Points program, and Oprah’s continuing role. NutriSystem should benefit from the newly added South Beach Diet food line. Expect a 12.7% gain in this market segment, to $3.55 billion.
6. The Meal Replacement Market
Meal replacements (including shakes and nutrition bars) are posting strong growth and are still popular. Through 2022, sales of shakes and bars will outpace the growth of OTC diet pills (7.2% per year vs. 4.8%). This market segment is worth an estimated $4.7 billion in 2018, as multi-level marketing companies such as Herbalife, Shaklee, and Isagenix rack up significant sales and provide a major distribution channel for these products.
7. Diet Trends
The trend toward eating high protein and ketogenic plans should continue strongly.
8. Untapped Markets for Weight Loss ProgramsUntapped and underserved niche markets include: overweight adolescents, seniors, men, diabetics, people with medical conditions, worksite wellness programs, and persons with food allergies. Small entrepreneurs and medical diet chains will be the companies most likely to exploit these niches.
For More Information About the U.S. Weight Loss Market
To learn more about weight loss trends, check out Marketdata’s study The U.S. Weight Loss & Diet Control Market.
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About the Author: John LaRosa is the President of Marketdata LLC and is the author of 100+ industry and market studies. His research appears in top media outlets including ABC, CNN, Fox, Forbes, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and a variety of trade journals.