Current Trends Impacting the Weight Loss Industry & What to Anchor to in Times of Change
— By Karol Clark, MSN, RN
An unstable environment requires clear focus, adaptability, and resilience from you and your team.
There are a number of weight loss industry trends causing concern for weight loss practitioners. No doubt, change has become constant, which requires a specific plan of action and resilience skillset. During such challenging times, it is important to identify trends and potential positive outcomes, while embracing your important anchoring beliefs. This allows you to optimize your practice operations and services, while staying true to your core values.
This may seem a bit overwhelming. Yet, it is also an exciting way to enhance your credibility and solidify your place in the market, while enhancing outcomes for your patients as well as your practice.
Current Industry Trends Causing Concern for Weight Loss Practitioners
As a busy weight loss provider or team member of a weight loss practice, you are very aware of the many joys and struggles that go along with the current trends of the territory. Here are the most common industry trends affecting the weight loss industry at this time:
- Soaring Demand for Anti-Obesity Medications: In the past year, new prescriptions for the anti-obesity medications Ozempic® and Wegovy® have surged by 140 percent and 297 percent respectively. In addition, the anti-diabetic medication Mounjaro™ saw its quarterly sales grow year over year from $16 million to nearly $1 billion.1 Like it or not, this has led to shortages and a significant increase in the prescriptive use of compounded glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) medications for overweight and obese individuals seeking weight loss solutions. As a weight loss practitioner, you likely have patients clamoring to get their hands on such medications as well. And while very frustrating, some of these individuals are interested in the medicine alone in lieu of also focusing on understanding and applying the lifestyle changes necessary for longer-term weight loss results.
- Increased Competition: Traditionally, bariatric surgeons and medical weight loss practitioners were the primary source of personalized weight loss care. However, the landscape has evolved with the emergence of big-box alternatives such as commercial weight loss chains (some of which now also offer injectable weight loss medications) and digital health platforms. These newcomers offer convenient and sometimes more affordable alternatives, leveraged technology, fancy marketing tactics, convenient meal plan options, and community support networks to attract clients. Such competition has ultimately been beneficial for consumers, as it has expanded their choices for weight loss products and services. This dynamic shift underscores the importance of evidence-based approaches and a holistic understanding of health within the weight loss market. It feels as if survival of the fittest has become survival of the most adaptable and resilient practitioners and programs in the industry.
- Industry Consolidation: The health care industry has experienced a significant trend toward consolidation of entities and practices in recent years — particularly by health care systems and private equity firms. Some of the reasons for this trend include rising labor costs, increased supply costs, higher competition, lower insurance reimbursement, and a transition to value-based care. While this has affected weight loss practitioners, there is a smaller subset of weight loss physicians choosing to move to an independent practice model to experience more autonomy and implementation of their vision for effective and convenient patient care.
- Labor Shortages: Many practices are grappling with a labor shortage. This encompasses a wide range of health care professionals, including nurses, physicians, technicians, and support staff. Factors contributing to this trend include increased demand for services, aging populations, and the retirement of a large number of experienced health care workers. Burnout, stress, and safety concerns related to the pandemic have led some to reconsider their careers.
- Artificial Intelligence Impact on Patient Care & Marketing: Artificial intelligence is making quite an impact on patient care with improved diagnostic speed and accuracy, AI-powered interactive nutrition and fitness applications, and predictive outcomes and data interpretation. From a marketing perspective it has been used for faster advertising asset creation, interactive chatbots, marketing automation and tracking. While there are cautions, AI will continue to evolve and be used in more ways.
Most Important Questions to Ask
With all of the trends creating uncertainty for weight loss practitioners and their teams, you are better positioned to calm the chaos and create a clear plan of action when you stop to ask a few questions. Four important questions include:
- What do your patients want? This helps you to clarify desired weight loss nutritional products and services your patients are seeking, along with their top barriers to success that you can help them overcome. When you listen, you can gather insightful information that can help you not only meet their needs, but provide the best messaging to attract them to you and your practice in the first place.
- What have your patients been told? This question is important so you can dispel any myths patients may believe that may be holding them back from success and/or seeking what you offer.
- What do your patients expect? You need to know what they expect so you can help them set realistic goals and minimize unnecessary confusion or frustration.\
- What do your patients need? You are the expert when it comes to evidence-based weight loss best practices and care of your patients. You know what your patients want, you know the myths they may believe, and you understand their expectations. Now is the time to insert your expertise — that they can get from no one but you — into their prescribed plan. Insert your personality into your education and your content marketing. Take a stand and boldly guide them to weight loss success.
Important Anchoring Beliefs to Effectively Manage Times of Change
Now that we have identified trends and questions to ask, how do you determine your next steps? To effectively manage these changing times and tides, you must ensure that your actions align with your core anchoring beliefs and values — while providing the services overweight patients desire and need. Sounds simple, right? However, it is easy to get caught up in the excitement and end up in a rip tide or whirlpool going nowhere fast.
If you are being thrown around in a whirling tide of changing times, here are some things to consider in order to calm the chaos and guide your actions:
- We live in a Cause & Effect World: You tell your patients that their actions and behaviors will create their results. It is the same with your weight loss practice. Regardless of the changes in the industry, to get consistent results in weight loss or business, your daily actions will create your results. Trends and fads will come and go but you have a long-term perspective and evidence-based care to guide your care. And, from a business perspective, if you have the systems in place for monitoring profitability, marketing initiatives, new patient lead and conversion management, clear team expectations and performance indicators, as well as patient satisfaction/outcome tracking and promotion, you can pivot and trial new initiatives in an easier and predictable way.
- Ongoing Faith in Yourself & Your Team: The mindset of yourself and your team influence your success tremendously. When you have a “we’ve got this” attitude and trust the team you have built, collaboration and brainstorming occur with greater ease. You do not have to go it alone. Your team wants to be a part of the solution. They also listen to your patients every day and have important insights to share. Faith in yourself and your team goes a long way.
- Abundance Mindset: With 74 percent of the American population being overweight, there are plenty of people who need your weight loss expertise. Rather than focusing on your competition, focus on the needs of your patients and those you want to attract to your practice.
- No Single Solution Works without Prescribed Guidance from an Experienced Source: As you know, medications are just one aspect of weight loss. You have many other tools to help your patients and none of them work well without an expert such as you and your team. You can provide various options, but the prescription for success comes from your evidence-based care. This cannot be understated and needs to be communicated clearly.
- Quality Care & Effective Communication Never Go Out of Style: People buy from people — especially when it comes to weight loss. Providing quality care and effectively communicating how you are uniquely able to help patients attain the transformation they desire will never go out of style.
- You always have a Choice: You have the autonomy to choose how you proactively prepare for and respond to industry trends. Whether you embrace them or not, you are in control and you should take a bold stand and move forward with confidence. Everything can be figured out — it just takes commitment, creativity, teamwork and a willingness to make it happen.
In summary, when you anticipate and understand trends as well as exactly what your ideal patients want and need, you can position yourself for success in any market. Staying true to your values while employing these anchoring beliefs will help calm the chaos and allow you to move forward with confidence.