Electronic Retailer - January 2012 - (Page 50)

RICK PETRY But Weight … There’s More h 50 Health and fitness consistently ranks as the No. 1 category among infomercials and no wonder: You might say it’s a growth industry. Why? Because there is arguably no problem weighing heavier on America, literally, than the rate of obesity that has overtaken the country. According to a recent column by the You Doctors – Oz and Roizen – the rate of obesity reported in the U.S. in 1990 was 6.9 percent. Today, just over two decades later, that figure has quadrupled to 28 percent. In DRTV parlance, that represents a 4-to-1 ratio and a mighty big back end. That might be funny if it weren’t so tragic because one of the byproducts of such an unhealthy lifestyle is an epidemic of Type 2 Diabetes, particularly among children. The battle of the bulge is being lost at immeasurable cost. Our fast food nation’s kids have tossed aside a baseball bat in favor of chat, and while their concerned parents heave a collective big gulp, those parents need only look in the reflection of their TV monitors to figure out whose behavior the children are modeling. One factor that contributes to the public’s ongoing struggle with girth is their desire for a quick fix. People aren’t just busy – they’re overwhelmed, so many products are marketed in terms of getting fast results broken down by the minute or, if you want to forget about the time required to maintain a healthy lifestyle altogether, a pill. Enter federal regulators who want to ensure that the public is not deceived by overly enthusiastic claims and you have a fascinating paradox: a nation saturated in fat and marketers trying to solve the problem by offering solutions that require the smallest amount of effort possible. This isn’t rocket science. But then, as any seasoned direct marketer of fitness products might tell you, perhaps it is. The solution to America’s obesity problem lies in a combination of diet and exercise, simple enough. The complication arises when one seeks to find the nuances that will motivate the public to get off the couch and get moving somewhere other than the pantry. Add claims that encapsulate what the average consumer can expect to get from a given diet and exercise program and the situation becomes even more complex. Consider, for example, that an individual’s success factors include, but are not limited to, starting weight, genetics and program compliance, with the latter covering everything from proper use of equipment to adherence to recommended food intake both in terms of type and quantity. But, as the old saying goes, the truth shall set you free. Perhaps the first thing the public, marketers and regulators should do is a simple test: Stand in a circle and look down. If you can’t see your feet, then you know there’s a problem. The second thing is to realize that no pill or portion, over-the-counter or otherwise, and no minutes-a-day workout is really going to turn that belly fat into washboard abs. The nation needs to look up from that collective vantage point of feet that can’t be seen and start taking one step at a time in the form of a genuine commitment to proper diet and exercise. And that is where this industry comes in. It has to be honest with the public about what it really takes to turn the tide on obesity and stop buying in to their aversion to blood, sweat and fears. Weight loss requires real commitment to real results. And this industry has the products and tools and the creativity to facilitate that change. The question is: Do we have the moxie? Some will suggest this approach will never work. People are lazy and want easy answers. But at a time where so many feel disempowered, it is not cynical to suggest that the answer to regaining a sense of control is staring them in the mirror every day. One may not feel like they can have much impact on the state of the national debt, but they can certainly affect whether they are going to bankrupt their own health or not. All of which represents a fabulous opportunity. In the throes of some of our darkest economic days, there is light at the end of the tunnel; light represented by, of all things, truth in advertising, where the public, health and fitness marketers, and the government row in unison. Together we can slim down the nation, transfer the girth to the bottom line, and change the regulatory tenor to one that is toned down, while our world collectively tones up. Rick Petry is a freelance writer who specializes in direct marketing and is a past chairman of ERA. He can be reached at (503) 740-9065 or online at rickpetry.com. On Twitter at http://twitter.com/ thepetrydish. electronicRETAILER | January 2012 http://www.rickpetry.com http://www.twitter.com/ http://www.electronicretailermag.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Electronic Retailer - January 2012

Calendar of Events
Your Association, Your Bottom Line
Industry Reports
FTC Forum
eMarketer Research
IMS Retail Rankings
Jordan Whitney’s Top Categories
Lockard & Wechsler’s Clearance & Price Index
SENSAtional Marketing
When Words Can Hurt
‘Because They Can’t Afford to Get Sick’
Guest Viewpoint
Guest Viewpoint
Inventor’s Corner
Payment Processing
Member Spotlight
Advertiser Spotlight
Bulletin Board
Advertiser Index
Rick Petry

Electronic Retailer - January 2012