Interview with Noom’s Susanne Wechsler
People always have different goals when it comes to using their phone to better track their activity levels or food intake, but one of the more common seems to be the age old: losing weight. Noom is a simple, stylish app for iPhone and Android is a refreshing take on merely functional competitors like MyFitnessPal. But with so many options available to consumers to help them shed those extra pounds, how does Noom plan to stand out from the crowd and keep making money in a freemium world. I recently caught up with Susanne Wechsler, Noom’s German MD, to find out more…
PH: HI SUSANNE, COULD YOU PLEASE EXPLAIN WHAT NOOM IS?
SW: Hi! Sure…Noom makes health and fitness apps for smartphones. Noom Weight, available on iOS and Android, helps users live healthier lives through better diet and exercise, by logging their meals, snacks, exercise and weight. It evaluates meal composition and – the part we’re most proud of – offers tailored nutrition and fitness tips, plus assigns daily targeted challenges.
Humble brag time…Noom Weight has had over ten million downloads globally since its launch in 2011 and was Android’s #1 grossing Health and Fitness app for 2013!
PH: HOW DO YOU HOPE PEOPLE USE THE APP?
SW: Actively recording your daily food intake makes you more conscious of nutrition, portion size and meal frequency – we know that from scientific studies, and our own user data corroborates the science.
We recommend starting with Noom by using the food and exercise diary diligently every day, plus exploring the in-app motivational articles, healthy recipes, community groups and challenges.
PH: WITH SO MANY OTHER ESTABLISHED COMPETITORS, HOW DO YOU THINK NOOM IS DIFFERENT?
SW: There are many calorie-tracking apps out there – but too many make it too difficult for non-technical people to understand the numbers – or, crucially, to know how to act on them. That means many of these apps are used by people who are already proficient, whilst those who could benefit most from lifestyle changes remain refuseniks. Noom’s food diary, however, is simple and quick, with a traffic light colour coding system to represent foodstuff’s calorie count.
With Noom, you don’t just collect your data – we have a three-pronged approach that combines tracking, active coaching and community support.
We have learned so much about the psychology of motivation; our founders really know what it takes to help people think positively and change their lives. Noom rewards and encourages healthy choices every day, and we think we do it better and in a more friendly way than any other app.
Noom is also social. Users can join 12-person groups of like-minded peers who share stories, offer motivation, set group goals, and provide much-needed personal support.
PH: HOW DOES NOOM MAKE MONEY?
SW: We have received investor funding, but our revenue comes from Noom Pro subscriptions. Noom is free to download but users can choose to pay for more features, including extended healthy recipes libraries, more groups in which they can share their weight loss journey with peers.
It’s a simple business model. It’s inexpensive and, when users go Pro, we find that they lose weight about twice as fast as free users – naturally, they are thrilled about this. Creating the best user experience possible is very important to us. This is why we don’t place ads in our app and we never, ever sell user data.
PH: WHAT’S COMING NEXT FROM NOOM?
SW: We have a strong presence in the US, Korea and Japan so now we are moving into Europe. As we expand into the UK, we are concentrating on producing a localised UK version of our app. We’ve already inserted databases from all top UK supermarkets – this is key because many of the top food tracking apps and even the apps for wearable fitness bands don’t include well-known UK food products.
It’s also a really exciting time at Noom, to be honest, as we have a big redesign in the works! I have caught some glimpses of the new design over the past few days and it is absolutely fantastic. It will be revealed in the coming weeks so keep your eyes peeled! The new design is friendly, inviting, and functional – three qualities that embody Noom. It’s exciting as it comes with a feeling of energised renewal.
PH: WHAT DO YOU PERSONALLY TRACK ON A DAILY BASIS?
SW: I track my calorie intake every day. Because I’ve been using Noom for some time, I have learned how many calories are in different foods that I eat regularly and I have developed a more conscious approach to the food that I eat.
The app automatically tracks my steps every day (so I can identify any dips in activity!) and I also log my workouts; partly to keep up-to-date records and partly because it feels like a sense of achievement when I finish a workout.
PH: LASTLY, WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE FUTURE OF SELF QUANTIFICATION?
SW: The QS movement is fascinating but we at Noom see quantification as the means to an end. Most people don’t want to quantify every aspect of their lives just for the sake of it – it’s important than quantification is accompaniment by pattern recognition, so that people can see any bad habits and change them.
The more data we gather, the more patterns we identify. That’s where we want Noom to go deeper. For example, if I drink coffee after 5pm one day, will I have fewer deep-sleep phases that night? I am looking forward to learning more about more complex correlations like these, but I also think it is very important for us to keep listening to our bodies’ natural signals and not manage our lives through tech only.
[watch this space for the full review of the Noom Weight app coming soon]