Where are Your Customers



According to the National Institute of Health Research, UK men are more likely to be overweight or obese than UK women (BMI of 25+) but they are far less likely to participate weight loss programmes than women. With this fact in mind, a few years ago Wigan Culture and Leisure Trust was commissioned to design a weight loss service that would appeal more specifically to men.

At the time, Wigan was a town punching above it’s weight (no pun intended) in football and rugby league. Wigan Athletic Football Club were still in the Premier League, Wigan Warriors Rugby League Club were (and still are) in the top flight Super League, and nearby Leigh Centurions Rugby League Club were consistently topping the Championship. All three clubs had legions of local fans.

The Trust partnered up with the three clubs and designed their weight loss service to attract local men by offering a reward they were sure would appeal to them. Simply, if they completed a 12-week programme, which was rugby and football themed, and successfully lost 5% of their body weight, they would receive a brand new team shirt, in their brand new size, from their choice of the three clubs. New shirts cost approximately £50 to buy so this was a great incentive. The programme was called “Drop a Shirt Size” (which is oddly hard to say out loud*).

But that’s not what I liked the most about this service. For me, the real genius was how they recruited the men into the first wave of the programme. They went to places where the incentive of getting a new club shirt would appeal the most - showing up outside the stadia on match days, with a table, a portable height gauge and a set of weighing scales. Any man who was brave enough to have his height and weight measured there, in the most public of places, was given a free match programme worth about £4.

It seems the men of Wigan weren’t shy, so much so they formed a queue and the team almost ran out of programmes (and a queue makes something more desirable, right?) From the measurements the team took, they were able to identify potential participants and sign them up. They filled all the available places.

Rather than repeating the same old messages about obesity and health risk, the Trust attracted participants by offering them something they actually wanted at both the ‘screening’ stage and in the programme itself.

And they turned up exactly where they knew they would find the customers they wanted to appeal to the most.

You may be wondering about the men who don’t like football and rugby, or the ones who went to the match but didn’t want to be weighed in public. The programme was run more times, with more groups - this was just the first cohort. With so many weight loss programmes struggling with uptake from men, they had to start somewhere, and in my opinion, they did it brilliantly.

Where do you find your customers? And in what way do you draw them in? What you know they will find appealing?

*bet you still tried