Consumers Resolve: Lose Weight, Quit Smoking, New Job

Losing weight and quitting smoking aren't just some of the most common resolutions Americans make every year--they are some of the most lucrative.

The Nielsen Company estimates that in January, consumers will spend more than $61 million on anti-smoking aids, and more than $47 million on diet aids. The Schaumberg, Ill.-based company says anti-smoking products generated 8.7% of annual dollar sales in January last year, while nutritional diet aids generated 9.9%.

And just in case you thought you were the only one ignoring the bathroom scale in December, last January's sales of diet products registered a 91% increase from the previous four-week period. But typically, resolutions are quickly forgotten. After a high of nearly $47 million in January, sales of nutritional diet aids dropped more than 14% to $40 million in February.

Typically, health and fitness resolutions are the most common:, a goal-setting Web site, predicts that 28% of all resolutions will fall in this "lose weight, quit smoking, get to the gym more" category, compared with 27% last year.



But thanks to economic worries, "we expect people to focus a lot of time and energy improving their careers and getting out of debt," the company says. It expects resolutions related to debt reduction to increase sharply as a percentage of all finance-related resolutions (to 52%, up from 26% last year). And it says resolutions related to saving money will rise, from 11% to 24% of all finance-related resolutions.

Another big jump: Career-related changes, which it expects account for 21% of all New Year's resolutions--up from just 12% last year.

Nielsen finds considerable geographic variation. Denver, for example, is the most enthusiastic market when it comes to giving up cigarettes, with consumers in that market buying 281% more over-the-counter anti-smoking products than would be expected for a market of its size. The next most avid are residents of Portland, Ore., Cincinnati, San Antonio, Texas, and Seattle. (Nielsen includes over-the-counter products such as anti-smoking tablets, caplets, gum, replacement filters, anti-smoking kits, smoking alternative sprays or inhalers.)

When it comes to spending on weight-loss promises, Seattle comes in No. 1. Consumers there buy 69% more than would be expected for a market of its size. Portland, Ore., Cincinnati, St. Louis and Baltimore are runners-up.

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