Striking similarities occur in the behavior of individuals trying to lose weight, stop drinking and those at the beginning of the financial planning process. Learning to properly address one has positive implications for others, according to Karen Miller-Kovach, Chief Scientific Officer for Weight Watchers International.
At the 2011 FPA Retreat in Bonita Springs, Fla., last week, Miller-Kovach examined the science of weight-related behavior change through psychographic segmentation and offered communication techniques that work when attempting to lose weight, or stick with a financial plan.
“There are obvious parallels between weight-related behavior and financial-related behavior, or any systems that involve humans, for that matter,” said Miller-Kovach. “But there are huge differences between knowing and doing.”
Part of the problem, she explained, is that professionals are taking increasingly educated clients and asking them to change. Trends in weight loss include an obesity epidemic in the United States; however, interest in losing weight is declining even as the understanding and awareness of obesity is increasing, a prime example of knowledge versus behavior, or knowing versus doing. People care less as obesity becomes more acceptable in society.
This type of challenge is best addressed through segmentation, or the study and application of how different audiences receive information.
“Segmentation means psychographics are far more important than demographics,” she said. “Demographics tell us little about a given population. By using segmentation, it allows us to specifically target who we want to answer questions and challenges. Psychographic segmentation is much more predictive of behavior that demographic segmentation.”
She offered six of psychographic segments that are identified in weight-loss behavior (or financial planning) and each must be approached differently in order to motivate clients to act:
1) Empowered lifestyler – Their goal is to live well, feel well and be well. They are not looking to achieve a specific number on a scale. It is more about the overall experience.
2) Methodical manager – They will focus on the process. They cannot have enough checklists. The more tasks they are given, the happier they are.
3) Trendy short cutter – They love trendy fads, and use these fads to supplant actual work.
4) High-touch hopeful – They want help; they need help, and with this comes a need for a high-level support. They are the antithesis if the methodical manager, and as Miller-Kovach said, their life is a mess.
5) Prisoner of weight – This person surrenders; they’ve convinced themselves they’ve tried everything and nothing works.