While the old-fashioned way for weight loss was to burn calories the hard way, a flurry of weight loss drugs and treatments like Ozempic have hit the market of late as companies get “creative” about marketing.
Obesity is among the major diseases globally and more often than not the condition leads to other health complications like diabetes and high blood pressure. People looking to lose weight are looking to Ozempic to get a push in the right direction, but there’s a catch – it is a drug used for type 2 diabetics and is not approved for weight loss at all.
It’s an injectable prescription medicine with injections of 0.5 mg, 1 mg, or 2 mg and is meant to be used for type 2 diabetics or to reduce the risk of major cardiovascular diseases.
Ozempic Isn’t Approved for Obesity But…
Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk which produces Ozempic as well as its FDA-approved weight-loss partner Wegovy has listed several potential side effects of using Ozempic including cancer and weight loss. Novo Nordisk’s ads for Ozempic tell the audience that the drug is for type 2 diabetes but then makes sure to focus on the side affects, specifically weight loss.
Others are seeing how successful this marketing and are getting creative about marketing weight loss products. One of these products is Supergut, a health startup is pitching its mixes, shakes, and bars as an alternative to Ozempic. These are made from its proprietary prebiotic fiber blend, which the company calls “nature’s Ozempic.”
One stick of Supergut’s fiber mix has nine grams of total carbs and eight grams of dietary fiber which gives only one gram of net fiber.
According to Supergut, it has sold over 3 million products and its CEO Marc Washington said that sales have soared 50% over the last month.
Incidentally, Supergut’s products were also originally designed for Type 2 diabetes patients but are now being sold across several grocery stores after the company also started to market them for weight loss.
In an apparent swipe at Ozempic which comes in the form of injections, Supergut said, “Sick of the prick?” while marketing its products on Instagram.
Novo Nordisk Spawns Wave of Pivots to Weight Loss
Meanwhile, Supergut is hardly the only company that is marketing its products for weight loss, and in 2022 Noodles and Co came up with pasta made with Bay State’s HealthSense wheat flour which contains more prebiotic fiber than traditional flour.
Bay State is a Massachusetts-based ingredients supplier that currently gets only a small fraction of revenues from the high-fiber wheat flour but expects the sales of its prebiotic wheat to grow significantly in coming years as awareness grows.
BellRing Brands which sells protein shakes and powders said last month that while some of its products are already being used for weight loss, it is also looking at new formulations with micronutrients that people might need as they eat less. Notably, the way drugs like Ozempic work is that they reduce the craving for food by making one feel full.
Stock Markets Take Notice of the New Marketing Strategies
The US stock markets are also game for weight loss and while BellRing shares have doubled over the last year, both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have plunged this year amid fears that demand for their carbonated beverages would taper down as more people turn to weight loss.
While these beverage giants have come up with healthier alternatives even those might not stand the test for those looking to lose weight. Food companies like Conagra Brands and Campbell Soups are also figuring out how the growing usage of Ozempic and other obesity treatment drugs would impact demand for their products.
Meanwhile, insurance companies are also concerned about the growing use of drugs like Ozempic and some have even stopped their coverage amid the rampant misuse.
However, the craze for “magic” obesity treatment drugs refuses to die down among companies as over 40% of US adults are obese which makes it a big target market for Big Pharma as well as startup health companies.
Pfizer is also working on a weight loss drug but recently halted the trials of its experimental weight loss pill as nearly half of the participants discontinued the medication due to high rates of adverse events like diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
The company however sees weight loss as a big market with CEO Albert Bourla predicting the pill to generate annual sales above $10 billion while forecasting the overall market to be as high as $90 billion.
All said, in the absence of clear-cut guidelines as well as the off-label use of drugs like Ozempic, companies are cashing in on the growing market for obesity treatments.