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The New York Times has an interesting story about a cultural problem that faced Weight Watchers a couple of years ago, and that continues to bedevil certain kinds of companies.

Nobody wanted to diet anymore. It wasn't that people didn't want to lose weight, but "diet" was seen as a dirty word. And companies like Weight Watchers, which was all about dieting, were facing all sorts of trouble.

Here's how the Times frames the issue:

"If you had been watching closely, you could see that the change had come slowly. ‘Dieting' was now considered tacky. It was anti-feminist. It was arcane. In the new millennium, all bodies should be accepted, and any inclination to change a body was proof of a lack of acceptance of it. 'Weight loss' was a pursuit that had, somehow, landed on the wrong side of political correctness. People wanted nothing to do with it. Except that many of them did: They wanted to be thinner. They wanted to be not quite so fat. Not that there was anything wrong with being fat! They just wanted to call dieting something else entirely."

You can read the entire Times piece here.

In some ways, this story reminded me of something that I heard a nutritionist say at the Organic Produce Summit a few weeks ago - that people don't want better nutrition, but they do want better health. What this ultimately meant, I think, is that customers are more interested in results, as opposed to process. That's something that marketers have to be aware of, and that this story nicely illustrates.
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