The new offerings include a chocolate brownie made with real chocolate chips, banana nut muffin, peanut butter soft cookie, petite bagels (available only in the Northeast), an ice cream candy bar, giant mint ice cream cone, giant mint ice cream sandwich, two-pack cups in cookies and cream and peanut butter varieties. New cheese varieties include natural reduced-fat medium cheddar, Swiss and pepper jack slices, and reduced-fat pepper jack slices.
The new products will be supported by online and print ads, outreach to food bloggers and presence on WW's Facebook page, according to WW International licensed foods spokesperson Jenny Doppelt. The themes being used are variations on "sensible deliciousness" and "Stop Dieting, Start Living."
Weight Watchers' current branded product portfolio includes about 85 products that span eight categories.
Generally, one to two products are within each category each year. Licensees decide the timing depending on what makes sense for the category, but many launches take place in the first quarter because "people have a renewed sense of commitment to weight loss or maintenance goals" at the beginning of the year, says Doppelt.
Weight Watchers International posted a 4.7% gain in net revenue--to $1.54 billion--for 2008. Net income was $204.3 million, up 1.5% from 2007's $201.2 million. (Excluding U.K. VAT charges and after-tax expenses associated with a new joint venture in China, net income was $224.7 million--up 12%.) Earnings per fully diluted share were $2.60 versus $2.48 in 2007.