Marketing the ‘Magic Pill’ – A consumer’s perspective

The Magic Pill

As I’ve embarked on the ever-so-challenging journey of weight loss, I’ve become more and more aware of diverse advertising efforts of different types of slim gimmicks (as I’ve fondly named them) on the market. I am talking about all the supplements, shakes & diet pills out there, competing for your attention with promises of fast results with little to no effort. Naturally, as a marketer, my interest was piqued.

I found myself asking these questions:

1. How does one market such ‘miracle helpers’ to the common consumer?

2. What role do they actually play in a person’s path towards a healthier being?

Let’s take diet pills for example. The average consumer of diet pills, according to an official report of the US Federal Trade Commission in 2002, is, or perceives himself to be, overweight, leads a semi-static way of life and has in almost all cases previously attempted (and/or failed at) weight-loss. The report also states that there has been a significant continuous rise in multi-media advertising campaigns for weight-loss solutions in the last 20 years or so. This means that an average consumer is likely to be exposed to such advertising on a daily basis and is more likely to buy it, thus turning ‘magic pills’ into a multi-billion dollar industry.

But what types of messages does that industry use to draw us in?

In most cases, false or unethically reported product results are used to promote extreme weight loss attributed entirely to the pill. However, in the fine print of most pills I’ve found on the market, it also states that product experiments have been conducted in accordance with a balanced nutritional diet and regular exercise. Naturally, a person is left under the impression that the pill does all the work, which might not be the case. Customer testimonials, on the other hand, deploy a different tactic of consumer-to-consumer communication, creating the sense of trust in the product, building around the old idea of peer pressure marketing. In most circumstances however, these come in the form of a copy-paste template blog of the ‘amazing transformation’ of a specific individual, frequently developed by the company producing the pills. After all of this mesh of advertising push, it’s as if we are almost instantly conditioned to associate diet pills with great results and the vision of a slimmer self. Now, I don’t mean to discredit all products on the market, but I do believe the hype around them has in a sense been artificially built.

What do diet pills actually provide consumers with?

With all that in mind, I believe diet pills do the exact job they are designed for – they provide a sense of security and an additional motivational mechanism in a person’s journey for weight loss. I personally am taking a certain brand of slim aids, but I do so to compliment my already established nutritional regime and exercise routine. For me, the pill provides the notion of direction and the desire to carry on with this endeavor. The effect might be purely psychological, and I am ready to acknowledge it as such, because it serves the purpose of continuously motivating me to go forward.

So for anybody out there who is trying their best to better their health and well-being by losing weight please keep in mind that we, the big bad marketers, will always try to lure you in with promises of incredible product features and fast results. Beware of how much you decide to rely on a pill to assist in your situation. If it is used in the right way, a diet pill or supplement may give you (psychologically and physically) that little extra push you need to start your journey. The decision should be yours and yours only.


Teddy T


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