GLP-1 Winners and Losers

March, 2024

Since its debut in 2017, Ozempic has quickly become the de facto name (like Kleenex) of an entire class of drugs known as GLP-1 inhibitors that are helping roughly 300,000 (and growing) people manage their blood sugar and lose weight. If half of the American population that’s currently on a diet or trying to lose weight suddenly had affordable access to these drugs, it would be revolutionary. While the full impact of GLP-1 inhibitors is still being determined, they’re already creating quite a stir, which is why we’re looking at how they’re affecting the way people feel, think, and behave.

We’ve outlined a few “winners” and “losers” below. Winners are those poised to benefit with little to no effort taken. Losers on the other hand are fighting the headwinds of the changes brought about by the rising popularity of these medications — they will have to work hard or change course to maintain their relevance in a world saturated with GLP-1 users.

What other winners and losers would you add to this list?


Winners

Affordable Fashion 

As people change sizes on their weight loss journey, they’ll need clothes that fit without breaking the bank. Thrift stores, consignment shops, resale sites like Poshmark, or even Facebook Marketplace should all expect to see a boon as these drugs grow in popularity.  For those without insurance, being able to recoup some of the out-of-pocket medication costs could have greater appeal. This reselling represents a trend we call Monetize Me, where social and technological changes allow people to monetize themselves (i.e., make money from selling their old clothes that no longer fit).  

Employers that cover the medications 

Covering out-of-pocket costs for this drug long term is untenable for most without help from insurance. Various surveys have reported that 20% (or more) of employees would be willing to change jobs to get coverage or stay in a job they didn’t like for coverage. In a competitive job market where building a company culture necessitates retention, covering these drugs can be a linchpin in those hiring and retention strategies. 

Social Media 

With doctors under-trained in both nutrition and obesity, people turn to those who understand and share their experiences. In a trend we call Crowdsourced RX, people seek support, solidarity, information, and inspiration in online communities as they navigate various health conditions. Reddit, for example, has active communities dedicated to Ozempic (68k members), Mounjaro (60k members), Wegovy (40k members), and Zepbound (21k members).  Ironically, this reliance on online communities comes at a time when trust in social media platforms is at an all-time low (something we track quarterly). For many, making big life changes often means cutting ties with old habits and old relationships. The friendships forged in online communities can be a lifeline for someone starting a new chapter in their health journey. 


Losers

Restaurants 

Large portions and inflated prices are a losing combination for the growing population of GLP-1 users. Our third annual Inflation Nation report revealed that people are cutting back on dining out more than any other spending category. Restaurants, whose tastiest dishes are often laden with copious amounts of salt and butter, are no longer irresistible — or enjoyable — by people on GLP-1 medications. Restaurants would be wise to offer menu selections with smaller portions, wholesome ingredients, and simpler preparations – at a reasonable price point. 

Weight Loss Brands 

With the rise of GLP-1s, people no longer have to rely solely on their willpower to control their weight. Brands like WW, Jenny Craig, and Noom have been collecting the money of yo-yo dieters for years if not decades. These brands are already pivoting scrambling to new business models that purport to work with these new drugs rather than compete with them. However, their core customers will likely make an exodus to the GLP-1s over time and may not be looking to subscribe to a companion program. 

Pharmaceutical Companies

The makers of GLP-1 drugs are experiencing stock price surges due to their groundbreaking success. But once these drugs become more affordable and widely available to all who need them, the population of those taking medications for comorbidities — statins, biguanides, and ACE inhibitors — will shrink, along with the profits for the companies who make them. 

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