Andy Swan is the co-founder of LikeFolio, a company that provides social data for investors.
Two years ago, Weight Watchers (WTW) was struggling mightily. The stock was well under $10 per share as investors had given up on seeing any growth from the company. Fortunately, that’s when Oprah announced that she was taking an ownership stake in the company.
Of course, when someone as influential as Oprah gets behind a brand, big things are expected to happen. That’s why she has her own channel in the LikeFolio App, which alerts users anytime she (or other top influencers) tweets about a brand or product owned by a publicly traded company. LikeFolio’s mission is to provide investors with actionable insights based on social data — whether that’s tweets by famous influencers like Oprah or analysis of consumer purchase intent trends.
One thing’s for certain — when Oprah talks, consumers listen. A great example of this occurred after her ownership announcement, when Oprah took to Twitter (TWTR) to make the case for losing weight using Weight Watchers in the kind of entertaining way only Oprah can pull off:
After that tweet, Weight Watchers’ share price exploded higher by almost 20%, equating to about $150 million in market value … or as it turns out, about $5.6 million per pound she lost on the program.
Even more impressive is the follow through, with Weight Watchers showing signs of a truly remarkable turnaround story as consumers follow Oprah’s lead back to the brand.
To measure this, we at LikeFolio use data gathered from social media to measure trends and shifts in consumer behavior. Our most powerful metric, “Purchase Intent Mentions,” looks at the number of people tweeting they’re spending money with a company at that moment. It’s this powerful metric that is showing us that the turnaround in Weight watchers is very real.
The green line shows purchase intent mentions on a 90 day moving average. The blue circles are highlighting the “New Year’s Resolutions” spikes for each of the past five years, with the pink circle showing the NYE resolution as Oprah began to support the company.
What’s really telling about this chart isn’t just the first-year Oprah-effect, which is huge, but the most recent resolutions season. As you can see, the 2017 NYE spike is larger than 2014 and 2015 spikes, which is a solid indication that Oprah’s introduction to the company was not just a blip on the radar, but perhaps a true turnaround of the company’s fortunes.
This massive “resolutions season” is why when Weight Watchers broke $20/share earlier this year, we started making the bullish case for the company. In fact, the last time we saw purchase intent mentions this high (aside from the initial Oprah buzz) was in 2013, when the stock was trading near $50/share.
With the stock up over 100% in just the past few months alone, there is reason to be cautious as we head into what have historically been dull summer and fall months for the company and the stock. But with the insights provided by consumer-based social data, we can be sure the Weight Watchers comeback story is truly underway.
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