Self-Improvement Market in U.S. Worth $9.6 Billion

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Personal coaching & infomercials do best.

Marketdata Enterprises, Inc., a leading independent market research publisher, has released a new 321-page market study entitled: The U.S. Market For Self-Improvement Products & Services. This is the ONLY publicly available national market study about this business. The study traces the market’s value from 1996 to 2010, examining these markets: Infomercials, Mail Order Catalogs, Holistic Institutes, Self Help Books & Audiobooks, Motivational Speakers, Seminars, Personal Coaching, Weight Loss and Stress Management Programs. Also examined are… customer demographics, 40+ profiles of the leading motivational “gurus”, and sample TV infomercials featuring SI products/services.

“There is no shortage of demand for products and programs that will allow Americans, especially affluent female Baby Boomers, to make more money, lose weight, improve their relationships and business skills, cope with stress, or obtain a quick dose of motivation. Now more than ever, Americans are turning to gurus for help in a variety of areas. They want to be more in control of their emotional and financial lives. An elite handful of multi-millionaire celebrities like Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra and Suze Orman have leveraged their names to build multi-media empires consisting of: websites, books, tapes, CDs/DVDs, public or corporate seminars, workshops, catalogs, infomercials, TV or radio shows and consulting.”, according to Marketdata’s Research Director, John LaRosa.

Major Findings:

1) Market Value… The total self-improvement market (incl. revenues of weight loss programs) was estimated to be worth $9.59 billion in 2005. The market grew more than 24% between 2003 and 2005. We expect 11.4% yearly growth through 2010, to a value of $13.9 billion.

2) Infomercials… ALL infomercials sales grew strongly in 2005, up 10% to $2.69 billion. Self-improvement shows represented 48% of the total, or $1.29 billion. Financial/business opportunity shows grew the fastest.

3) Audiobooks Market… Audiobook sales have been growing about 4.5% per year. Total audiobook sales were estimated at $2.08 billion last year, with self-improvement titles representing $354 million of this.

4) Books… We estimate that $693 million worth of self-improvement books were sold last year. Fueled by continued strong sales of diet books, the market is forecast to grow 8.3%/year—better than overall publishing.

5) Motivational Speakers… This segment’s sales are estimated at $328 million for last year, for the top 12 speakers only, including operations of Franklin Covey Co. All 5,000 speakers take in $1+ billion per year.

6) Gaiam Inc.… This firm is emerging as a major force in the market, especially in catalogs. The company is expected to grow from $142 million in 2005 to $200 million in 2006.

7) No new major self-help “gurus” have emerged on a large national scale since 2004, although the media can create one within months. The big names are still big, and are changing their distribution channels to adapt to the market. More of them are now offering life coaching. Formats include DVDs, not just CDs.

8) Self-improvement customers are most likely female, middle-aged, affluent, and live on the two U.S. coasts. 70% of SI books buyers and seminar participants are women.

9) Personal coaching… This is becoming more popular. Marketdata estimates that 40,000 people in the U.S. work as life or work coaches and this $2.4 billion market is growing 18% per year. It’s becoming a status symbol to have a personal coach. Most charge $200-500 per month for a weekly phone call, but corporate coaches charge more. Many of the top motivational speakers perform coaching or have “certified” coaches to work under the company name. There are even fitness-by-phone coaches and love/dating/relationship coaches (John Gray – Ask Mars Venus). No license is required and the field is largely unregulated.

Value of Self-Improvement Market Segments: 2005    

2005             Yearly Avg.

($ millions)     Growth to 2010 (%)


$1,290             9.7

Mail Order Catalogs

70                 0.0

Top 12 Motivational Speakers

328                12.6

Personal Coaching

2,400             17.5

Holistic Institutes & Training Companies

320                9.8


693                 8.3


354                 4.5

Weight Loss Programs *

3,970             10.0

Stress Management Programs

310                 6.0


$9,593            11.4

  • commercial chains & medical programs only, not incl. diet foods, drinks, books or surgeries.

About the Report & Marketdata

Marketdata Enterprises is a leading independent market research publisher and consulting firm with a focus on service markets since 1979. The Self-Improvement Products & Services study is 321 pages in length, costs $2,195, and contains 52 tables/charts. It’s also sold by individual chapters at lower cost, and is available in digital or print format.

Contact Information:

John LaRosa, Research Director

Marketdata Enterprises, Inc.,

Phone: 813-931-3900.


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