A look at WW’s Digital Transformation Journey

How Weight Watcher’s Leveraged digital technology and advanced data science techniques to reinvent itself for the wellness generation

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Since its founding in 1963, Weight Watchers has consistently reigned as one of the top weight loss programs in the United States. Key to its 58 year success is its uncanny ability to reinvent itself time and time again. 

While Weight Watchers started off as a subscription-based business centered around in-person meetings, by the 1980’s it had expanded into a variety of purchasable products, media and services. A pioneer of the omni-channel experience, Weight Watchers put its name on everything from low-fat sweets to magazines to spas. 

Though Weight Watchers thrived and continued to grow through the new millennium, as the world became increasingly digital and traditional attitudes about weight loss started to shift, Weight Watchers went into decline. 


Becoming a Digital Enterprise

In 2018, Weight Watchers rebranded itself as WW and embarked on a long-term digital transformation. Though WW’s highly lucrative in-person meetings remained core to its business model, it re-designed and expanded its digital offerings. The goal was to become “a technology company with a human-centric overlay” the offered customers an “eco-system of well-being.”

One of the key benefits of the WW’s mobile app, which they had launched over a decade before, was its ability to collect extensive data on its customers' eating, exercising habits and content consumption habits. Using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to mine this literal gold mine of data, WW is able to customize eating and wellness programs. For example, WW has developed bespoke programs to help users manage type 2 diabetes.  

As WW CEO, Mindy Grossman, explained to diginomica, “We are utilizing data science technology to make the experience more customized and personalized including in our 24/7 chat with the coach. Coaching and personalized support is a key priority area for us in 2019 and beyond, in terms of how we can better tailor the WW member experience in content. Our goal is to have every member feel that it is their WW. With a strong foundation, upon which to build across each of these areas, we work to attract both returning and new members to WW.”

For detailed descriptions of WW’s data science frameworks, WW has released the following studies and deep dives into its ongoing research:


WW 2020 and Beyond

Though industry and financial markets experts praised WW’s digital transformation as especially innovative, these accolades did not immediately transform into profits. Despite its strong digital presence, WW struggled to navigate the uncertainty and turbulence brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Though overall membership grew in 2020 and digital revenues increased by 2023, it could not make up for the revenue lost from the shuttering of its in-person meetings. 

However, as the world reopens and people look to shed their “quarantine 15,” the outlook for WW is bright. In fact, in early May of 2020, WW announced it had 4.2 million digital subscribers, a 16% jump from a year earlier and that in-person meeting were beginning to rebound. 

As WW CEO, Mindy Grossman, explained in a recent podcast, “And what we were actually able to do is probably do three years of acceleration in one year, because we were very focused on our employee and member first. How do we keep our community together? And how do we innovate to ensure that they have the support and the success they need? And so that's how I always think about these times, is how do you think of it as an opportunity, not just a challenge.” 


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