Dieting No Longer Tops the List in a Post-9/11 World

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- In a major shift, Americans' top two New Year's resolutions for 2002 are not about dieting or saving more money, but rather about enjoying life and devoting more time to friends and family, according to a poll by General Nutrition Centers.

Conducted for GNC by International Communications Research of Media, Pa., the national telephone survey found that 67% of Americans have vowed as a New Year's resolution to enjoy their lives more, and 59% have vowed to spend more time with family and friends.

They indicated that issues such as diet, exercise and better management of personal finances were lower on their lists.

Last year's
Last year's most popular New Year's resolutions were to go on a diet, get more exercise and save more money, according to the 2001 New Year's Resolution Survey, conducted by Simmons Market Research Bureau.

In fact, the public's move away from concerns about dieting and exercise for 2002 may be even more pronounced than GNC's survey findings suggest. A November study by the American Institute for Cancer Research in Washington documented that about 56 million Americans have been on an anxiety-induced high-fat, high-calorie eating binge since Sept. 11. By year's end more people than usual

were likely to be feeling bloated and out of shape. Nevertheless, people at large told GNC surveyors they are now more concerned about the quality of their own life and their family relationships than with their body weight or physical appearance.

Stronger commitment
This year's GNC/ICR survey found that more people have resolved to "manage stress better" and "show more patriotism" than "lose weight" in the coming year. And more people -- 68% as compared with 2001's 50% -- said they are more committed to keeping their resolutions this year.

"People have really changed since Sept. 11," said GNC media-relations director Stephanie Mangini. "Our survey findings were very different from previous years but the results weren't that surprising in light of all that has happened."

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, GNC markets vitamins, herbal supplements, sports nutrition items and dieting products through 5,300 U.S. retail outlets. Currently, the most prominent product promotion on the gnc.com Web site is for the Scan-Diet line of weight management food supplements.

But the new adjacent promotion copy suggests consumers "Begin the New Year with

GNC: No dramatic changes but listening to its customers.
a commitment to yourself. Take this time to reflect on the past and embrace the year to come."

Traditional American images
Ms. Mangini said GNC had not made dramatic changes in its marketing message as a result of its findings but was including more traditional American images and inspirational sayings like "Work Toward Unity" in the 2002 calendars it gives out in its stores.

"It is important for any company to pay attention to what its customers are feeling and saying," she said. "There has been a lot of discussion in the media about how consumers may have been changed by events and our survey was designed to help us understand if that was really true. We found that it is true."

Ethnic differences in response
Another interesting aspect of the survey is the ethnic differences it detailed. For instance, it found that Hispanics feel a greater need than whites or African-Americans to actively demonstrate their patriotic feelings in the coming year.

Sixty-one percent of Hispanics said they were resolved to show their patriotism more compared to 44% of whites and 41% of African-Americans.

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