Weight Watchers is finding itself in a fast-paced world of automation, wearable technology, applications and hyper-connectivity.
As the company loses market share and profitability year over year, Weight Watchers is hoping that Oprah Winfrey can help the company "get back on an' poppin'"...both Oprah and Weight Watchers may be on to something.
Oprah invest $45 million into Weight Watchers and Joins their Board of Directors
In October 2015, Oprah Winfrey bought 6.5 million shares (at $6.79 a share) into the personal health and weight loss behemoth, giving the media mogul and television personality a 10% ownership of the company and a board seat.
With her $43 million investment into Weight Watchers' shares comes an option to have an additional 5% ownership stake. Oprah's new stake in the company means that the company's $1.724 billion drop in revenue and $200 million drop in net income (according to a 2013 SEC filing) are now also her problems.
Oprah now site very prominently on the Weight Watchers website and serves as both brand ambassador and business advisor
But how exactly will Oprah guide the company towards the similar level of growth it enjoyed throughout the 80s and 90s? In 2016, both Weight Watchers and Oprah must now compete with fitness and nutrition monitoring applications like FitBit and Jawbone.
The first tactic of Weight Watchers with Oprah Winfrey seems to be celebrity and social currency.
Star Power creates millions for Winfrey and Weight Watchers
This past Tuesday, Oprah Winfrey flexed her personal brand muscle when she posted a simple tweet: "Eat bread. Lose weight. Whaaatttt? #ComeJoinMe."
That morning, before Oprah sent that tweet, Weight Watchers stock was trading at $11.35 a share.
The million dollar tweet.
Apparently, folks went crazy for Oprah's opinion ... as in 2,209 likes (now Twitter hearts) and 947 retweets crazy.
Later that day at the market's closing, the stock price had jumped 20% to $13.29 a share.
Given her recently acquired ownership of the company and 6.5 million of its shares, Oprah made herself $12.5 million in just one day, with just one tweet.
A Need for Scale and Tech for Weight Watcher's in Modern Market
However, if only Weight Watchers' battles could be won on Twitter.
Since the company clearly won't be able to cause a $1.94 stock price jump for the rest of the calendar year with Oprah's tweets and celebrity power, she and the rest of the company will have to find other ways to achieve growth.
Above: A Screenshot from Jawbone's website, one of two big players in wearable technology space.
Above: A Screenshot from Fitbit's website, where they adverise their various models, including a collaborative piece with and by Tory birch...This is what Weight Watchers has to compete with.
Companies such as Fitbit and Jawbone are flying past Weight Watchers- they automate much of what Weight Watchers does manually. They have integrated web/app software and wearable hardware to measure results and they do it all for pennies on the dollar compared to Weight Watchers' monthly fees.
If Weight Watchers will have any chance of attracting millenials in the next 2-5 years, they will not only need celebrity power, but they will need tech which enhances their service.
It may even help if they tier their services into a "freemium" or subscription type model that allows for them to increase their audience and gain much needed new customers.
Weight Watchers could invest in their own apps and software, or they could just buy into/partner with a rising start-up that has a viable product and market-fit. The options are plenty- it is only time that Weight Watchers does not have too much of.
After a pretty good start in January, let's see what else Winfrey and Company have in mind for the rest of 2016. Hopefully she can get this company back on track.
Medvis Jackson is a web designer at Hindsite, curator at Kulchah and avid cricket fan. You can follow him @medvisjackson for his random thoughts.