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WW CEO talks 2022 health goals, fitness competition, and tech investments

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WW International CEO Mindy Grossman joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the outlook for Americans' fitness resolutions in 2022.

Video Transcript

BRIAN SOZZI: It's a new year, but the battle against the pandemic pounds is never ending. Sprinkle in a heavy dose of COVID fatigue, and you've got a fertile environment for those companies operating in the health and wellness space. Let's check in with WW International CEO Mindy Grossman. Mindy, always nice to see you. Good morning.

MINDY GROSSMAN: Great to be here.

BRIAN SOZZI: I think the last time-- Yeah, it's always nice to see you. The last time we talked to you, you were talking about a little bit of a consumer fatigue on wanting to get healthy. Many folks being OK, perhaps, with a few extra pounds and maybe not fitting into their jeans. Have you seen any change in that sentiment to kick off the year?

MINDY GROSSMAN: Yeah, well it's interesting. We had commissioned a study, along with Kantar, to get people's perspective on how they were feeling about health, wellness, et cetera. And almost 80%-- it was a pretty comprehensive study across many different countries-- said that they want to get healthier, they need to prioritize health in their life. But on the same side, they are not going to sacrifice anything to be able to do that, which is why we were excited, and I had spoken last time I was on.

We had just launched our newest innovation, two and a half years in the making, PersonalPoints, which we started our significant marketing right after Christmas. And it really is empowering people to still live the life they love but lose the weight they want. And given what we've all been through, none of us want another sacrifice, but we all know how critical our health is, also given what we've all gone through. So to have something so personalized, so incentivized to have you have the healthy habits, and with the newest science behind it, we're really seeing people get great results from the program. And now we also have diabetes vertical, which is also very significant.

BRIAN SOZZI: Mindy, there's a lot of competition in this space right now. Look at me, for example, I do meditation classes on my Peloton App. As a company, how could WW cut through that clutter?

MINDY GROSSMAN: Now I always say there's always competition. But there's a reason that, for the 12th consecutive year, we were named number one best diet for weight loss and number one best diet program. And I think a lot of the work that we've done over the last couple of years to build out a complete health and wellness ecosystem within our program-- and to your point on meditation, we have integrated Breathe, for example, as our partner.

We have obé fitness for video fitness as well as everything that we've built and incorporated around sleep and hydration and recipes and all of the content and coaching that people want. And I think it's really important that the science behind everything we do, no matter what vertical of health and wellness, is really our integrity, our efficacy, and the sustainability of the program, which ultimately is the most important when you marry it to livability.

JULIE HYMAN: Mindy, I want to turn a little bit more squarely to the business and also to the stock, which we're showing up in the screen. And of course, we should also mention you're almost done as head of WW International. You are stepping down after this quarter. As you look at the performance of the company, of the stock in particular, what do you think needs to happen in the years to come to kind of convince investors to get back in here?

MINDY GROSSMAN: There's no question that the last 18 months or almost two years have been a challenge for the business because we had to significantly pivot. But we were on a path around, really focused on the investments in technology, the program itself. But the team had to do a tremendous amount of work, particularly during this time, to accelerate all of those efforts.

And if you look at the investments we've made in technology, in data, in performance marketing, in everything to accelerate the company forward, that's really what is going to set us up for future success. And that's why we're excited about the innovation, the work that we've done. Our improvements in our retention continue.

Our gross margins have now exceeded 60% consistently. And we see further growth there. So that's what's really important, and I think it's just people recognizing the work that needed to be done to set us back on a path for sustainable, profitable growth.

BRIAN SOZZI: Mindy, I'm curious on what you might be up to next.

MINDY GROSSMAN: Well, as I keep saying, right now I have pretty heads down. We've got a lot happening, and there's a lot of work to do. But I'm also excited about the future. And we'll certainly talk about that at another time.

BRIAN SOZZI: Fair enough. All right, well don't be a stranger. It's been a pleasure talking with you throughout your WW journey. WW International CEO Mindy Grossman, good to see you.

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