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The four-decade old Weight Watchers company is enjoying a resurgence, Fortune magazine reports, in part because it became an independent company not owned by Heinz.

Before Heinz sold it to a European investment firm in 1999, the strategy was to use the Weight Watchers name to build sales for a line of prepared and packaged foods. These days, the company instead is promoting its “points” system that allows people to eat normally within a specific range, and building its business through its meetings and membership fees and sale of ancillary items such as cookbooks and diet calculators.

And while Weight Watchers is perceived as being for women, the company is developing a strategy that will appeal to men, as well.
KC's View:
Seems to us that the key to Weight Watchers’ success is that it isn’t just selling stuff, but rather is building a sense of community among people who share common and powerful interests and motivations.

We’ve always felt that this is a much-ignored potential for many supermarkets, which have a built in customer base that both shops frequently and probably shares more interests than they realize. The building of community is relegated to the folks who run the loyalty marketing programs, but even they don’t have the resources or the mandate to exploit this strategy.

In a time of heightened competition and enormous threat from big box stores that are sales machines (sort of like sharks with scanners), it seems to us that community-building is one way for many of the smaller boxes to fight back.