A Lesson in Marketing Targeting from the Obese and Overweight



TVB presented at the Marketing Disease Prevention and Awareness: Marketing to the Overweight American Conference September 28, 2011, in Washington, DC. The conference was attended by marketers, advertising people, clinicians, academics, government officials and the media. What was striking was the disconnect between the different constituencies. This underscored the importance of knowing who and where your audience is.

From the U.S. Government’s point of view about 67% of adult Americans are overweight or obese. They are most densely located in the south, cutting a swath from Texas over to Alabama then up through the border states to West Va. They are poorer, more African-American, more rural and less educated than the country at large.

But here’s where the disconnect begins. Only 13% of women and 6.5% of men consider themselves overweight or obese. Of the top ten O&O states for the Government and self reported, only one state, Kentucky, appears on both lists! To further complicate things, even among the self indentified O&O the people who have taken some sort of action to address the situation ranges from a low of 30% to a high of 60% depending on the state. To further complicate the picture many more people use various weight control programs than declare themselves overweight.

So what does the weight-control program user look like? You guessed it: more female, richer, more Caucasian, more urban, better educated and less southern than the market overall. It’s a virtual mirror image of the government profile.

What's the takeaway? Obesity is a huge public health problem that needs to be addressed by the public policy, medical and possibly the food service communities. There is a very specific geo and demographic profile to attack. But if you are marketing in the weight loss arena, your target is people most likely to use your products and services. And that’s a very different group indeed. Local TV can be a key player in both areas, but keep the difference in mind.

P.S., the good news: They watch a ton of Television! The weight control activist over-views sports by 10% vs. the general public. They over-view regular prime by 14% and they over-view news programming by a whopping 19%.

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