Study Finds Self-Esteem Easy Prey for Enforma's DRTV Ads

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A new study sheds light on Enforma's marketing of its weight loss system, which was the subject of a recent settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.

The "Fat and Fit" study, conducted by HealthFocus Inc., Des Moines, IA, has no direct connection with either Enforma or the FTC but does definitely conclude that with less people concerned about losing weight, the claims Enforma made for its products are exactly those to which today's shoppers are most likely to respond.

In late April, Enforma Natural Products Inc., Los Angeles, was forced to pay $10 million to the purchasers of its products or the commission and to stop using "false and unsubstantiated" claims. The FTC fined Enforma for promoting its Fat Trapper and Exercise in a Bottle products with "deceptive" statements such as "With Enforma, you can eat what you want and never, ever, ever have to diet again" as well as that the Enforma System "helps your body to burn more calories while you're just standing or sitting around doing nothing -- even while you're sleeping."

"This is definitely what shoppers want to hear," said Linda Gilbert, president of HealthFocus. "There is a real decline in the number of people dieting. When we look at this whole category of trying to maintain or lose weight, consumers are moving away from dietary and lifestyle solutions to medical solutions like fat blockers. If you are selling this type of product today, there is more of a need to have a product that is a solution within itself that does not require a lifestyle change. Shoppers want to sit in front of a TV and lose weight. They want a fast and easy solution that doesn't require them to stop eating the things they like. They are tired of denying themselves things."

This seems to explain why the company would make such claims and supports the idea that though the claims were ruled "false," the company was tapping into what marketers have discovered is the best way to reach shoppers today. Enforma has been the No. 1 weight loss program sold through DRTV for more than a year. The study seems to show a direct connection between people who watch and purchase from infomercials and the general consensus about how shoppers feel about weight loss, dieting and self-esteem.

"For people who watch those kinds of infomercials, it seems that self-esteem is a big issue," said Gilbert. "There seems to be a little bit more of that in DRTV. And when you say you can lose weight by doing nothing, it makes it easier for people to succeed and feel better about themselves. This study itself shows that people today are more concerned with how they feel than if they are losing weight."

The study is a mixture of data from focus groups and a trend survey conducted every two years by HealthFocus that recruited 2,000 people by phone to take part in a mail survey. Eighty percent of the respondents were women who said they were the main household shoppers.

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