Jan. 11, 2024
The pandemic had significant effects on the way commercial weight loss companies operate, along with the explosive demand for GLP-1 obesity drugs such as Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro. Marketdata estimates that between Medifast, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and Noom, at least 26,500 weight loss coaches have lost their jobs since 2020.
Here’s why…. Commercial weight loss companies such as Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and Medifast have faced a major reset in the market during 2022-2023. The obesity medications market soared with huge demand from consumers for Ozempic, Wegovy, Saxenda, Mounjaro, and now, Zepbound. As a result, revenues and growth were negatively affected and companies laid off staff such as weight loss coaches.
Jenny Craig shut the doors of its 600 retail centers, and shifted to a purely online operation. When Jenny Craig closed its retail outlets and its assets were purchased by Wellfull (parent company of NutriSystem), it lost weight loss coaches. Since NutriSstem already had coaches on staff, it’s likely that most of Jenny’s coaches were let go and the NutriSystem coaches then handled both brands. Jenny used to have approximately 1,200 coaches or “counselors” (2 per 600 retail centers). Marketdata estimates that at least 50% of them, probably more, were let go after the Wellfull acquisition. — 600 coaches lost
Weight Watchers also shuttered 800 retail stores and jumped into the medical market by adding a service to provide such drugs. It’s known that during the pandemic in 2020, Weight Watchers fired 4,000 employees via a Zoom call. Many of these had to be coaches. More layoffs have followed since 2020. The WW website now lists approx. 729 coaches — 4,000+ coaches lost
Medifast saw its roster of health coaches shrink from a peak of 68,000 in Q2 2022 to 47,100 as of the 3rd quarter of 2023. -Average annual earnings per coach slipped from $26,668 to $20,032, no doubt due to the strong competition from the GLP-1 drugs. In addition, many of these MLM coaches probably did not feel comfortable shifting to a medical program and resigned. — 20,900 coaches lost
Noom let go 25% of its 2,000 person coaching staff in 2022, due to falling revenues and the customer shift to the popular diet drugs. More layoffs followed, paring the coach count to about 1,000. — 1,000 coaches lost
Add up these layoffs for just four weight loss firms and it comes to 26,500 weight loss coaching jobs lost.
The coaches that are still left are being overburdened, sometimes handling hundreds of clients, with a lot less time to build rapport, track client progress, customize plans and devote enough time per call to really understand a client’s needs. The number of retail weight loss centers is shrinking, resulting in less in-person contact. Everything is going virtual. The MDs who have added GLP-1 drugs to their practice certainly don’t have time to do coaching, nor do staff at med spas that have now begun to offer weight loss drugs.
What this means for the weight loss consumer is that they are receiving poorer quality service and less coaching support. There is a gap in the availability of good counseling. This is likely to persist as long as the GLP-1 drugs remain popular. SOME of the coaches that were laid off may have set up their own businesses, but this number is probably small, since not everyone wants to be an entrepreneur or knows how to market themselves. Some of the gap may have been filled by Registered Dieticians, certified Nutritionists, and other health/wellness coaches. It’s hard to tell how much.
The job of a weight loss “coach”, “counselor” or “consultant” has always been a low-pay, high turnover job with little chance for advancement. Many coaches are forced by management to be mostly sales oriented and depend on commissions. Unfortunately, not much has changed over the past few decades. To receive a higher level of service, consumers have to find an RD or higher-priced weight loss program.
Need More Weight Loss Market Analyses?
You will not find deep insights like this anywhere else. Marketdata has tracked the weight loss market for 37 years, with 50+ published market studies, custom research projects and consulting. Our largest and most comprehensive report is: “The U.S. Weight Loss & Diet Control Market”, March 2023. See: marketdataenterrprises.com for a Table of Contents, Sample pages, or to order the study ($1,395). Call Marketdata at: 813-971-8080. Email: john at marketdataenterprises.com. We love talking about the weight loss market. Pick our brains any time!