Selling To Online Dieters? You'd Better Pass This Test

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National survey of 14,799 pinpoints trends as prime "Diet Season" passes.

Analysts at Marketdata Enterprises (, the market research firm that operates, a Free diet analysis website, have just released the findings of their 2nd quarter Online Dieter Research Report. A total of 14,799 dieters were surveyed online from April 1st to June 30th, and data was compared with 1st quarter results. An analysis of how dieters responded to the survey yielded very interesting trends.

Advertising agencies and PR firms with weight loss clients, diet website operators, or any companies selling diet products or programs online, must pass this test if they are to be effective in selling to online dieters. Do you…

  • Get to them within a week of their search for a weight loss program?
  • Provide one-to-one personal counseling? Nearly one-third want it. Impersonal chat rooms and bulletin boards may not be enough.
  • Know that 43%-69% of them need some form of psychological support?
  • Make sure your program costs less than $250?
  • Accommodate the 40% of online dieters that have special foods needs or allergies?

"As the prime diet season (January 1st to Memorial Day) matures, selling to online dieters is tougher. They are less motivated by special offers and promotions, proven by the decline in that metric from 5.3% to 3.6% from quarter 1 to quarter 2. Weight loss marketers' offers and discounts must be more compelling to result in sign-ups and opt-ins. Online dieters are still mainly in the do-it-yourself group, but their interest in medical diet plans did rise as the season matured. These are the nuances picked up by our quarterly survey and daily real-time participation," according to John LaRosa, Research Director.

Marketdata, via, has created a real-time tracking tool that produces an online dieter profile—their demographics, needs, and preferences related to nutrition, exercise, and psychological roadblocks. As confused dieters search for the best diet program for them via our online survey, they leave lots of information, which when analyzed can reveal shifting preferences. "We know of no other research tool like this, with such a huge real-time daily sample," according to John LaRosa, Research Director.

Major Findings:

  • Of 14,799 people completing the survey in the 2nd quarter of 2005, 93.2% were female.
  • 4.8% are interested in weight loss surgery.
  • 4.9% are interested in home delivery of diet foods.
  • 69.3% need a diet program that covers emotional eating, 48.9% need one covering stimulus control, and 43.7% need one covering social eating skills—indicating a great need for weight loss programs providing psychological/lifestyle support.
  • Starting weight: Fully 58% of online dieters have a starting weight of 175 lbs. or more and 22.5% weigh 225 lbs. or more.
  • 63% have a reported budget of $250 or less to spend on a weight loss program.
  • 40% have "special food needs" such as food allergies or sensitivities.
  • The greatest share of 47% have used a weight loss center as a dieting method in the past, followed closely by the 41% that joined a health club. 38.4% skipped meals and 19.3% used a diet website.

"The online weight loss consumer is a fickle customer whose needs constantly shift and are rarely probed in depth. We now have a unique research tool to monitor large numbers of dieters like this to find out what makes them tick, on an ongoing basis and affordably," according to John LaRosa, Research Director.

About The Quarterly Online Dieter Report


  • gender
  • age (5 categories)
  • BMI (body mass index (5 categories, 18.5-40+)
  • Percent opting in for special offers
  • Percent leaving name and mailing address
  • Pregnant or nursing percentage
  • Medical conditions, percent indicating at least one (32 conditions)
  • Their diet budget (under $250 to $3,000+)
  • Preferred weight loss program location
  • Interest in weight loss surgery – percent
  • Interest in home delivery of diet food – percent
  • Preferred diet counseling format
  • Type food plan desired
  • Percent interested only in diet plans with pre-planned daily menus
  • Special food needs, allergies, food sensitivities – percent with
  • Readiness to begin a diet program
  • Previous types of diet plans used (18 types)
  • Exercise preferences
  • Psychological support needs: percent identified by analysis as needing… emotional eating support, stimulus control, social eating skills support

Also Included…

  • Discussion/analysis of the online dieting market: nature, market size.
  • List of the top diet websites.
  • Latest Alexa traffic rankings of the top diet websites.
  • Forecasts and early identification of key trends.
  • Latest results of surveys of online dieters by diet companies and others.
  • Overview (32 pp.) of the 9 segments of the weight loss market, with $ size and 2008 forecasts and status reports for: commercial programs, medical programs (MDs, bariatric surgery, RDs, diet drugs, hospital programs, VLCDs), multi-level mktg. plans, meal replacements & appetite suppressants, diet soft drinks, artificial sweeteners, diet/low-carb foods market. Dieter demographics, trends of past two years also analyzed.

The service costs $2,995 per year, or individual quarterly reports (approx. 50 pages each) can be purchased for $895.

About / Marketdata is operated by Marketdata Enterprises, Inc., an independent analyst of the U.S. weight loss industry since 1989. A database of 61 of the most legitimate and popular diets is automatically and objectively searched after the consumer fills out an in-depth 7-8 minute survey online. Consumers can also get detailed diet program descriptions, and have access to special offers by weight loss providers—all at NO cost. The website also contains lots of unique, free content. Marketdata’s diet market research is regularly quoted by all major media.

Contact Information

John LaRosa, Research Director Enterprises Inc.


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