Dynamic Earth - Winds

Different People, Places, and Reasons for Addressing Obesity

Metallic ValknutIf you spend time puzzling over the seemingly impossible knot of the obesity problem, it becomes evident that many different people, places, and reasons come into play. Different people, in different places, all have very different reasons for what they do and what will work to address obesity.

Sorting out the different needs of different people in different places is a core skill of marketing. It’s referred to as segmentation analysis. The trouble is that it’s anything but a linear problem-solving process. Different professionals — all highly competent — can come up with entirely different segmentation models that work perfectly well. There is no one right answer to a market needs segmentation problem. But it does become evident when a particular segmentation model works better than others, because the people who are guided by it get better results.

Clearly in the realm of obesity, the needs of people are diverse. Only about 10% of the adult population has no interest in weight management. The remaining population ranges from people who feel very successful in managing their health, weight, and fitness to people who have arrived at a sense of futility about the whole subject. Trying to sort out these needs based solely on a physical characteristic like BMI is tempting, but almost useless. Whenever someone tells you “people with obesity want…” you can stop listening. Wants and needs are far more complex that that. Both demographic and attitudinal data will inform a really thoughtful analysis.

So it’s interesting in Obesity Facts to see Carola Grebitus and colleagues publish an analysis of factors that drive people to act as they gain weight in different countries around the world. The authors find big differences between countries, genders, and attitudes toward food, health, obesity, and industry. Motivations for people from India, for example, are quite different from those for people from the U.S.

As interesting and extensive as the data are in the study by Grebitus et al, they represent just one way of looking at segmentation of weight management around the world. We need more thoughtful work like this.

Especially in obesity, one size does not fit all.

Click here to read the study by Grebitus et al. Click here and here for more information on needs segmentation analysis.

Dynamic Earth – Winds. Photograph from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / flickr

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