What sustainability can learn from weight loss companies

What sustainability can learn from weight loss companies

It’s that time of year again – when weight loss advertisements dominate the airwaves. Yes, Jennifer Hudson (J-Hud) looks great.  And Valerie Bertinelli (V-Bert) has kept her new, slimmer figure for 3 years now  – I checked the Jenny Craig (Jenny C) web site.

The ironic thing is that J-Hud and V-Bert probably didn’t need Weight Watchers (DubDub) and Jenny Craig to lose weight. What they needed, and what they ultimately found, was motivation.  And more importantly, they found intrinsic motivation.

Now perhaps this sounds like a Tony Robbins (T-Robb) seminar, but intrinsic motivation is what creates long-term permanent commitment to a thing (weight loss, a hobby, love) and manifests in a particular behavior – or in the case of weight loss, behavior change.   Seeing “after” pictures of celebrities and other attractive people is not enough to inspire long-term behavior change.  It is however, enough to drive short-term change, which is why most people don’t stick to diets very long; and a large reason why we see all of those diet commercials every January.

J-Hud and V-Bert were motivated to change their behavior before they ever aligned themselves with a diet product – those lucky products are merely a footnote.  Something got inside their heads that made them want to change their behavior and to stick with it.

Perhaps – and just perhaps – there was something in the marketing communication from DubDub and Jenny C that sparked that motivation.  And if so, we have something to learn from it, as this is the same challenge we are facing in world of sustainability.  We have learned that it is not nearly enough to show the “after” picture of a utility bill or the image of bluer skies to drive real behavior change.  Moreover, as mentioned in a recent blog post, some folks are using their high efficiency appliances as an excuse to run them longer and hotter or cooler.

Sustainability marketers – in an effort to sell product and to create real change – may be able to learn a lesson by looking at weight loss success stories.  The real answer may not be in a celebrity’s refrigerator, but it may be in the celebrity herself – in the kind of motivation that gets her to stick with something for the long term.

About the Author

Adam Kustin

Adam is a former contributor to Shelton Insights.

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