Oprah tour driving Weight Watchers memberships

WW memberships grow with Oprah at the helm of wellness tour

Oprah’s wellness tour is heating up Weight Watchers sales.

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The queen of all media, who owns 8 percent of the diet plan company’s shares according to FactSet, is headlining her sold-out 2020 Vision tour interviewing the likes of Michelle Obama, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Jennifer Lopez. And her position as the face of the brand is driving up subscriptions.

Weight Watchers, nown known as WW, grew its subscriber total by 8 percent at the end of fiscal year 2019 to 4.2 million subscribers, an all-time, year-end high for the brand, which now has more than five million subscribers.

Oprah speaks onstage during her 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus tour presented by WW. (Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

“Member recruitment so far in 2020 has been well above the prior year, as expected,” WW’s chief financial officer Nick Hotchkin said in a statement.

Direct tour revenue is slated to be close to $15 million, with up to $20 million in expenses for the first quarter, MarketWatch reported.

Oprah and Jennifer Lopez onstage in Inglewood, California. (Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

The 66-year-old media mogul kicked off the tour on Jan. 3 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and will hit nine cities culminating on March 7 in Denver where she'll interview Gayle King. The day-long event is an uplifting lecture from Winfrey on all things wellness, including her personal highs and lows. Winfrey's wellness tour has featured her running on the treadmill with "The Rock," clinking vodka-filled shot glasses with Kate Hudson and opening up about mental health with Lady Gaga.

Attendees take part in interactive sessions such as workbook exercises that prompt guests to put together an action plan for their goals in 2020. And, of course, food from WW is served. Ticket prices range from $69.50 to $299.99.

"Say goodbye to procrastination, denial, feeling stuck and wishing for a better life," Winfrey wrote in an open letter promoting the tour in her magazine, O The Oprah Magazine. "This is going to be a day-long party for everyone, celebrating all that you are — and all that you're meant to be."

The global wellness industry grew 12.8 percent during the last two years, from a $3.7 trillion market in 2015 to $4.2 trillion in 2017, according to the 2018 Global Wellness Economy Monitor. So its no surprise that more entrepreneurs and brands are leveraging the consumer trend of living healthier lifestyles by putting on events and speaker series.

Indeed, wellness tours are becoming the new concerts as lifestyle gurus and fitness instructors take their shows on the road to help fans live their best lives and earn profits from tickets and retreats that help extend their brands.

Actress-turned-lifestyle authority Gwyneth Paltrow, the founder of wellness empire Goop, created a retreat bringing together some of the biggest names in health, wellness and entertainment for In Goop Health. Ticket prices started at $1,000 a day and around $4,500 for the weekend.

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And last year, Jennifer Aniston's fitness trainer Taryn Toomey took her program The Class, a workout that combines music, dancing and shouting with bodyweight exercises and mediation, to several cities like Chicago, Atlanta and New York.

WW rebranded in 2018 offering its members the ability to choose programs that are tailored toward their individual weight loss plan so they can have more flexibility with foods they enjoy eating.

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And there seems to be growing interest in the market. An online poll of U.S. adults by CivicScience and NPD Group asked respondents between 2015 and 2016 how important health and fitness activities were in their lives and found that 73 percent valued both interests with 51 percent saying exercising as a priority.

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