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    Review three surveys on obesity. Which industries stand to benefit the most?

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    Consumer behavior is influenced by both internal and external factors. Internal factors, also called the personal factors, are things like motivation, learning, and perception. External, or social, factors include things like social norms, family roles, and cultural values. Trends in the external environment can have major impact on consumer choices and preferences. It is important for marketing managers to be aware of such trends. How can managers learn about such trends? Let us explore the Web site of a company that conducts national surveys and publishes reports on such trends.

    Harris Interactive frequently publishes several survey findings that can be of interest to marketers. Let us examine three such surveys. First, take a look at a survey done on March 6, about the Obesity Epidemic in America. This study finds that among people over 25, 80 percent are overweight. This proportion has been on a steady increase since 1983 (when it was 58 percent). The proportion of obese people was 71 percent just a few years ago, in 1995. Interestingly, 60 percent of people surveyed said they wanted to lose weight.

    Another survey done by Harris Poll focuses on whom Americans trust. This survey presents data on which professions are considered most trustworthy to Americans. The survey indicates that Americans trust priests and other clergymen the most (90%), followed by teachers (88%), doctors (84%), and police officers (78%). Among the least trusted professions were trade union leaders (37%), members of Congress (42%), business leaders (43%), and journalists (49%).

    A third survey conducted by Harris Interactive focuses on Americans' leisure time activities. This survey asks people to name their favorite leisure-time activities and how much time they allow for their leisure. The most popular leisure-time activity is reading (28%), followed by watching TV (20%), spending time with family and kids (12%), fishing (12%), and gardening (10%). The popularity of these activities has stayed fairly consistent over the years. The survey also found that Americans spend 50 hours per week on their work. In the early 1970s, this number used to be just 41 hours a week. Some other relatively popular pastime activities included swimming (8%), computer activities (7%), and going to the movies (7%).

    After reviewing the three surveys mentioned above, answer the following questions.

    1. Given the trend in obesity among American consumers, which industries stand to benefit the most? Why?
    2. How would you use the information on whom Americans trust for marketing purposes?
    3. How can marketers use information on the leisure-time activities of Americans

    Describe how to position products and services compared to the competition.

    Discuss the implications of the societal marketing concept.

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    Solution Preview

    Given the trend in obesity among American consumers, which industries stand to benefit the most? Why?

    Those industries that sell products related to health, especially those related to foods that promise weight reduction benefit from these trends. The industries include the diet foods and low calorie foods.

    Those in the food industry that position their products as "health food" stand to gain the most. In addition, further those companies that sell natural or organic food also are likely to gain from this trend.

    There are slimming powder marketers and slimming product manufacturers these are the marketers who are likely to gain the most.

    In addition there are slimming clinics and slimming gyms that will benefit from the trend. Finally, even esoteric clinics that teach practices like yoga will benefit from the increasing awareness of keeping slim.

    The business implications are also enormous. American girls today shop for clothes that are roughly two sizes bigger than those worn by their mothers. Seats in public places such as sports arenas are being made bigger, as are those in aircraft. Drug firms are searching for miracle slimming drugs and the latest dieting fads become best-sellers. After claims that its advice on healthy eating is obsolete, the Bush administration said on September 23rd that it will draw up new guidelines. Expect hard lobbying by food firms fearful that the government's panel of experts may advise against eating their products.

    Some food firms have announced plans that could affect the health both of their customers and of their profits. On September 18th, Burger King launched its first product aimed at people watching their waistline: a low-fat chicken sandwich. It hopes to reverse a six-year slide in sales, in part due to competition from chains such as Subway that offer "healthier" alternatives to burgers and fries. McDonald's, having put salads on its menu as part of a global makeover, has signed up Bob Greene, an exercise guru best known as Oprah Winfrey's personal trainer. He will promote a new chicken-based meal called "Go Active" which comes with exercise tips and a clip-on pedometer to encourage customers to walk more. Next year, Kraft Foods, America's biggest food firm, will trim its portion sizes and provide more nutritional information.

    How will consumers react? New research shows that most Americans are well aware of the risks of obesity. "But people are not prepared to give up taste as their solution to this problem," says Gary Epstein of Euro RSCG Tatham Partners, part of an international marketing group. One of the most striking findings of his new study on globesity is that some 90% of American consumers believe they are ...

    Solution Summary

    The 1,720 word, well-cited solution presents a comprehensive study of the trends in marketing for various business opportunities regarding the American issue with obesity.