WeightWatchers digs deeper with AI-moderated research

Nov 29, 2023


Aaron Cannon

The challenge

WeightWatchers wanted to better understand the deeper motivations behind the decision to get healthy. For example, many people just say “I want to get healthy”…but what do people really mean by “health”? Fitness? Appearance? Managing a heart condition? Dealing with chronic pain?

These were the kinds of questions the team needed to answer. Understanding these base-level motivations was (and is) critical to better serving WeightWatchers members.

But previous surveys were proving too surface-level. And long, in-depth interview projects would have required way more time and resources and still only gathered a small fraction of the audience they wanted to access.

"The depth and thoughtfulness from a traditional survey are often disappointing and with interviews, we are limited by researcher bandwidth." — Wilson Readinger, Head of UX Research @ WeightWatchers

The Solution

In partnership with Outset, WeightWatchers ran a series of AI-moderated interviews (i.e. a conversation with participants led by AI) with 100 people in just 24 hours. The Outset AI interviewer asked critical questions to each person and then dynamically probed deeper into underlying drivers of their behavior.

"We saw an opportunity to collect richer data, at scale, than we otherwise would be able to collect on our own." — Wilson Readinger, Head of UX Research @ WeightWatchers

Once the participant conversations were finished, Outset synthesized all the transcripts into a mix of qualitative takeaways, quantitative breakdowns, and key quotes that told the story.

"We got research results in days — and not weeks — and they included categories, counts and rich quotes, which minimized the time, energy and effort it took to create a report and finish my synthesis." — Nii Codjoe, UX Researcher @ WeightWatchers

The Result

The WeightWatchers research team got the results they needed in a fraction of the time they expected. They saved about 1-2 weeks of effort and got a deeper set of data than any traditional qualitative method they would deploy.  

But more importantly, they got deeper beneath the surface to understand how people really think about their own health and weight loss journey. This empowered the team with the data they needed to make impactful strategic, product, and marketing decisions. Thanks to AI-powered interviews, they uncovered the nuance that people often bury beneath the surface at a scale and speed that was never before possible. 

"If you find yourself forced to make a choice between the richer, contextualized data collected in an interview and the broader reach of a survey... choose both!" — Wilson Readinger, Head of UX Research @ WeightWatchers

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