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Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2008 at 6:23 am

How Jenny Craig Uses Personas for Successful Marketing

By Michele Miller
August 12th, 2008

jenny craig personasWith annual revenues for the weight-loss industry estimated at $60 billion a year, competition is fierce. Food-based programs like Nutri-System and Weight Watchers account for hundreds of millions of dollars, so getting the right message across to potential customers is critical.

While other companies have featured real-life success stories in their advertising, Jenny Craig has chosen another route: the celebrity spokesperson. While I’m not a big proponent of celebrities as an effective marketing tool, Jenny Craig has applied the use of personas (either consciously or unconsciously) to their campaigns and is experiencing a surge in revenue.

Consider the last three Jenny Craig campaigns, and how they’ve followed the persona business model:

Kirstie Alley: A Spontaneous type if ever there was one. While annoying to some consumers, other Spontaneous types were drawn to her quirky delivery and “it’s so easy to do” mantra about the Jenny Craig program. Throw in her effusive comments about the different kinds of dessert you can have, and you’ve got the Spontaneous dream of what a diet should be.

Valerie Bertinelli: A born Methodical, Valerie’s ads were all about the structure of the program. She cited statistics about obesity and facts about the nutritional value of the Jenny Craig foods. She was straightforward, dependable, and encouraged other Methodicals to apply structure their eating habits. That, combined with regular, specific updates on her progress cause membership to surge amongst Methodicals.

Queen Latifah: This is the woman who’s reaching out to the Humanistics that know they need help but are fearful of specifics and possible failure. The advertising program for Queen Latifah has moved away from previous messaging and started talking about “just feeling better.” She’s telling others that for her, it’s not about numbers on a scale but rather living a healthier, happier life. And, most importantly, she not only talks about how a healthier body feels better, it also means you can do more with your loved ones. That hits the “hot button” for a Humanistic – it’s often not about her, but how she can have a stronger connection with friends and family.

It will be interesting to see if the next celebrity spokesperson for Jenny Craig completes the persona cycle by using a Competitive type. Hmmmm. I wonder who it will be. Who would you like to see in the spotlight?

Review the Jenny Craig campaigns when you can – they are an excellent case study for success using personas, and good examples of how you can apply them to your own marketing and advertising.

Editors note: If you’d like help with your personas and planning campaigns for them please let us know.

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Comments (11)

  1. The whole personas in marketing movement makes complete sense if you think about it. To a large degree it’s similar to the idea of social media’s effectiveness in relating to a ‘person like me’.

  2. A competitive persona could be someone like Noelle Pikus-Pace, the world champion skeleton racer. She recently had a baby, which is something many Jenny Craig customers could relate to (having a baby and trying to lose weight afterward).

  3. Excellent points, Seattle and Noelle. Authenticity is certainly the key to effective persona use. And choosing an athlete (especially with the Olympics in full swing) who has recently had a baby would be a terrific choice!

  4. Great article! Sometimes using personas can prove to be bad a well…it truly depends on who you pick and how they relate to the brand. In this case, Jenny Craig absolutely chose 3 diverse and great people. My wife loves that Queen Latifah is now the face for them — apparently she’s very likable!

  5. Thanks for the comment, Nick. I’d certainly love to find out if this personal thing happened purely by accident, or if there was a strategy behind the overall campaign. If they pick a Competitive next, I guess we’ll have our answer! And it’s not only personality, but the messaging that goes with it – their copywriter has done an excellent job.

  6. I would love to hire someone to build more persona design into my website but I am unsure who would really be good to use?

  7. Please speak with one of our Authorized Persuasion Architects

  8. Audio Bible, I’d recommend you contact the folks at Future Now with help on this. They’re the experts (there’s a link to their “Contact Us” page in my original post).

  9. I’m sure there was research behind it.

  10. I’m guessing Jenny Craig doesn’t market to my demographic (30′s male); however, I tend to be repulsed by every one of their actors and their commercials. Go figure huh ;)

  11. [...] to take through the lens of whichever persona that you are speaking to. A great example of using personas to frame the various decision trees is the Jenny Craig website. Oh by the way, the point of using personas to help propel the audience [...]

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