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Weight Watchers and Avon Products both go for a modern makeover

Weigh Watchers is slimming down its name to 'WW' in a wellness push, while the Avon lady is getting a digital makeover

Oprah Winfrey has a 8% stake in Weight Watchers
The health and wellness company is dropping Weight Watchers and renaming itself "WW" to reflect a shift in focus from weight loss to overall health

Weight Watchers International Inc (NYSE:WTW) is getting a leaner two-letter name. It is dropping “Weight Watchers” to rename itself "WW" to reflect a shift in focus from weight loss to overall health, it said Monday. Similarly, an icon of American health and beauty, Avon Products Inc (NYSE:AVP), is rebranding through a digital makeover of its "Avon Lady" image.

WW said the company’s new tagline will be "Wellness that Works." CEO Mindy Grossman is rebranding the company to draw more consumers to the weight-loss program in a bid to extend the momentum fueled by Oprah Winfrey’s embrace of the brand nearly three years ago.

Starting in January 2019, every product sold by WW will have no artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors and preservatives.

READ: Weight Watchers shares plump up after reporting above-forecast fourth-quarter earnings and sales after-hours

"We are committed to always being the best weight management program on the planet, but now we're putting our decades of knowledge and expertise in behavioral science to work for an even greater mission," Grossman said in a statement. "We are becoming the world's partner in wellness.”

She said no matter what the goal to lose weight, eat healthier, move more, develop a positive mindset, or all the above the company will deliver “science-based solutions” that fit into people's lives.

WW currently boasts a membership of 4.5 million people, one million more than a year earlier. In February, it announced would hit a target of $2 billion in revenue by 2020, up from $1.3 billion last year.

Embracing e-commerce

Winfrey, who claims she had lost 26 lbs by using WW’s programs, has been the program’s biggest ambassador. She recently pared her initial 10% investment in WW for which she paid $43.5 million, she still holds 8% in a stake worth $378 million, according to Bloomberg data.

"From the moment I chose to invest in the company and join the Board, I have believed that the role WW can play in people's lives goes far beyond a number on the scale," said Oprah Winfrey. "As Weight Watchers becomes WW, I believe we will continue to inspire people not only to eat well, but to move more, connect with others and continue to experience the joys of a healthy life."

The bulk of WW’s revenue, 80% comes from membership subscriptions, which start at $3.99 a week and extend to personal coaching plans, which begin at $12.69 per week.

The WW app, used by millions of WW members around the world, will be updated on October 4 to reflect the new brand identity. WW has formed a partnership with Headspace, a global leader in meditation and mindfulness, to help develop customized content for WW members.

Avon Lady goes social

Meanwhile, up to a million members of Avon Products’ global army of doorstep sellers are to receive training by the end of the year in how to exploit social networks to promote cosmetics, the Financial Times reported over the weekend.

The newspaper said the push into tech-driven “social selling” is part of what Avon executives are calling a “revolution at the company,” founded in 1886 by a door-to-door bookseller.

“Over the last number of years we lost our way,” Jan Zijderveld, who was installed as chief executive in February, told the Financial Times. “But the beauty market is growing, the direct selling market is growing – the core and essence of what Avon has to offer is still absolutely relevant.”

WW was up 1.3% to $70.66, while Avon was down 0.82% to $2.42 in morning trade.

Contact Uttara Choudhury at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter@UttaraProactive 

Quick facts: Weight Watchers International

Price: 26.04 USD

Market: NASDAQ
Market Cap: $1.76 billion

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