November 27, 2021

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WW Redesigns Its Weight-Loss Points System

WW International Inc.,

the company once known as Weight Watchers, has revamped its core system of counting points for foods consumed, the latest move in its ongoing shift toward emphasizing wellness, and not just dieting.

The system, which is the first thing members see when they sign into WW’s app or website, still assigns point values to foods and gives each member a suggested daily goal. But for the first time it will let members raise their daily caps with actions such as drinking water, eating a non-starchy vegetable or walking the dog. Water and such vegetables had counted as zero points, but didn’t boost members’ daily point budgets.

The system now recognizes a wider variety of activities as exercise and does not separate these into a different point system as it did before.

WW is also setting a wider range of daily points goals for incoming members based on their answers to questions about their eating and physical habits.

The goal is to better engage and retain subscribers as consumers look to become healthy by joining programs that add value to their lives, said

Mindy Grossman,

president and chief executive officer of WW.

“We’re providing a whole new way of looking at the food program, the behavior change, the incentivization,” Ms. Grossman said.

The company has been trying to reposition itself since 2018, when Ms. Grossman famously told stock analysts “the world doesn’t need another diet” and the company later dropped the “Weight Watchers” name.

A 2019 tweak introduced a tiered system called myWW in which members could choose from three plans that met their needs. It replaced a previous program that lumped all into a single plan. And last November, the company released a program called myWW+ including tools to help members track their sleep and mind-set.

Membership has fluctuated. Last week, WW said it had 4.5 million members at the end of the third quarter, down from 4.7 million a year earlier, but up from the 4.2 million it reported at the same time in 2018, when the name change was new.

Meanwhile, revenue has declined, partly as a result of a decrease in subscriptions to the company’s more-expensive plans that offer access to workshops. WW posted revenue of $293 million in the third quarter this year, down from $321 million in the period a year ago and $366 million in the third quarter of 2018.

More From Experience Report

WW faces competition from traditional weight-loss programs such as Nutrisystem, which asks users to eat its prepackaged meals, as well as startups including Noom Inc., which has raised $540 million from investors and tells members that it uses psychology to help them build new habits.

WW’s long history presents difficulties as consumer attitudes change, said

Jeannie Walters,

chief executive of Experience Investigators, a customer-experience consulting firm.

“It is going to be a hard thing to overcome when they already have so much competition and they haven’t always talked about things in a way of health and wellness,” Ms. Walters said.

“There’s a bigger discussion going on around about health—it is not about calories in and calories out,” she added.

WW took two years to design and test the new system, which included assigning new values to hundreds of thousands of food items, according to the company. Executives said they hope it will help WW keep up with consumers who don’t just want to focus on limiting what they eat.

“If we can have a system that can produce weight loss, but at the same time develop healthy habits and a livable way—that’s sort of what we’re after,” said

Dr. Gary Foster,

chief scientific officer of WW.

Write to Ann-Marie Alcántara at [email protected]

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https://www.wsj.com/articles/ww-redesigns-its-weight-loss-points-system-11636760047