From Plus Size to Print Shops: How Ozempic is Reshaping the Apparel Landscape

From Plus Size to Print Shops: How Ozempic is Reshaping the Apparel Landscape

It’s hard to imagine a time when a medical breakthrough would potentially drive the apparel industry to an upside. However, Ozempic – a drug used for diabetes and weight loss – has recently been gaining significant popularity online and is even known as a celebrity weight loss drug. The impact of Ozempic may extend beyond just a person’s calorie intake and spill over into various aspects of their lifestyle.

Ozempic mimics a hormone called glucagon-like peptide 1, or GLP-1 in short; it regulates our feeling of fullness. As a result, it’s normally prescribed to people with obesity and diabetes to help them lose weight. Continuous use leads to reduced calorie intake and weight loss. Given that 45 percent of the US population is considered obese while 70 percent are overweight, Ozempic’s effects can be far-reaching.

This boom in popularity has resulted in a shortage of the drug, leading to some concerns that those who need it won’t be able to get it. More GLP-1 drugs are also expected to be approved soon, with its own share of implications.

But how will this concern you, a print shop owner? We’re getting to it.

The Implications of Ozempic Use

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Grocery stores, fast food restaurants, and food brands will be among the most impacted by Ozempic. People’s buying and consumption habits are slowly but surely changing, resulting in reduced consumption of fast food, snacks, and sugary beverages. Those taking Ozempic experience a 20 to 30 percent decrease in their daily calorie intake, while more than 70 percent of individuals on the drug reported visiting fast-food restaurants less frequently.

“Some people report that their “food noise,” or ruminations about food, disappear after taking… Ozempic.”

Dani Blum, for the New York Times

Will other sectors also see some changes via Ozempic use? It seems likely.

  • Gyms are expected to benefit as people on weight loss drugs are more likely to lead an active lifestyle. In a survey by Morgan Stanley, they noted that a majority of respondents exercised more often once they started taking anti-obesity medications (AOMs) like Ozempic. It does seem to imply that it’s not simply a wonder drug and that people are willing to do more to keep their health in check.
  • Health and fitness equipment vendors, like yoga mat sellers, will likely see a spike in sales as a result of the potential fitness boom.
  • According to Jefferies Financial, it’s estimated that “United Airlines would save $80 million a year if the average passenger weight decreased by 10 pounds.” This is pretty self-explanatory.
  • Telehealth is also expected to see an increase as individuals make use of it for their refills. Per Morgan Stanley, “telehealth has double the share (~7%) for refills than original prescriptions.”
  • Alcohol and nicotine sales may be negatively impacted, as patients taking AOMs or weight-management prescriptions report a “suppressed desire” for these substances.
  • Since it mimics GLP-1, Ozempic helps lower blood sugar levels. This can impact medical device manufacturers with a reduced demand for insulin medications.

Ozempic and the Apparel Industry

The apparel industry is likely to experience significant changes due to Ozempic. As individuals gradually lose weight, they’ll need to look into getting a wardrobe makeover, leading to increased spending on apparel and a shift in consumer preferences. According to the Bank of America, consumers are expected to refresh their wardrobe “for every two size changes.” Under this assumption, the apparel industry stands to gain a whopping $50 billion in new apparel spending, which equals an additional 2.1 percent compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) “through 2030 from wardrobe replacements.”

Traditional clothes retailers are expected to benefit from increased demand, especially if people taking Ozempic or other AOMs are likely to exercise more often. As a result, sales in activewear and athleisure segments have seen a modest rise: 30 percent of surveyed consumers who take AOMs say they’ve bought “more athleisure apparel and footwear since starting the drug.”

In fact, athletic apparel and footwear look set to be the big winners within the apparel industry.

Change in apparel category purchasing since starting drug (among total)
Sourced from Morgan Stanley

Conversely, plus-size retailers are likely to experience a decrease in demand. The average woman’s size in the US is currently between 16 to 18 (or XL – XXL), compared to size 14 a decade ago. Traditional retailers typically carry sizes up to 14, while plus-size retailers – such as Torrid, Lane Bryant, and DXL – cater to sizes above 14. The 10 to 20 percent loss of body weight can substantially weaken the demand for plus-size retailers, especially as those who take AOMs have started shopping less frequently at plus-size retailers.

Weekly exercise before/after starting drug (among total)
Sourced from Morgan Stanley

Athletic apparel is anticipated to see the most significant benefit, especially for individuals on Ozempic who are more likely to lead an active lifestyle. Brands like Lululemon, Deckers, and Nike are expected to experience increased demand in time. Additionally, there may be a general increase in the popularity of athleisure wear that showcases one’s figure, as well as sports footwear and even casual apparel, primarily benefiting brands like American Eagle, Gap, Levi, and Foot Locker.

Meanwhile, intimates will also experience some benefits, while business casual and luxury apparel are set to see a decrease.

Change in apparel category purchasing since starting drug (among category purchasers)
Sourced from Morgan Stanley

It should be noted that these changes won’t happen immediately, as the reported trends for apparel are expected to change over the next 10 years.

Ozempic and Your Print Shop

The potential gains in the apparel industry will no doubt translate into the custom apparel decoration space, and your print shop stands to gain substantially if you play your cards right.

For one, the trending wave of fitness enthusiasm is bringing athletic wear back to the forefront. Print shops will likely see an uptick in demand for printing on athletic apparel; it’s possibly a return to form for some shops that used to service frequent athletic wear orders before the demand for activewear began to wane. Expect to see demand revolve around vibrant designs, motivational quotes, and personalized messages that resonate with individuals on their fitness journey. The same can also be said of casual wear.

Print shops catering directly to consumers might want to consider offering a much wider variety of apparel, from athleisure to casual wear. Doing this can help tap into a growing consumer appetite for comfortable, versatile, and stylish fashion that also complements an active lifestyle. You’ll still need to be prudent about managing stock levels as demand changes over time; for starters, keep a smaller stock of larger sizes, given that its demand will reduce in time.

A focus on marketing towards women might also be a good idea, especially as women are more likely to refresh their wardrobes than men. This is visible in their purchases of athleisure and casual wear, followed by intimates. This isn’t going to happen overnight, so check your sales figures and identify your major customers so you can spot current sales trends.

Net change in purchasing apparel category by gender (among category purchasers)
Sourced from Morgan Stanley

The market shift will definitely be capitalized by apparel brands, and print shops may find new contracts coming their way from brands that specialize in athletic and casual wear. Companies like Urban Outfitters, Lululemon, Nike, and American Eagle could be looking for reliable print partners to embellish their apparel with creative prints that appeal to both activewear and casual markets.

Ozempic Isn’t Widespread Yet

Morgan Stanley foresees a scenario where, by 2035, 20 percent of the 133 million obese Americans will be using AOMs like Ozempic. But things won’t change overnight because of one growing trend; consumer spending on apparel is still low today.

“In the US, we estimate that today approximately 4 [million] people use GLP1s approved for Type 2 diabetes and 750k-850k patients are treated with approved GLP-1 therapies for obesity, though we acknowledge some off-label use of GLP-1 therapies approved for diabetes in obesity patients.”

Morgan Stanley, GLP-1 ‘101’: Top 10 Investor Questions on Diabesity Medications
Total weekly prescription volumes for GLP-1s, 2022-present
Sourced from Morgan Stanley

Still, wider Ozempic use could possibly have a significant cascade effect on various industries: it changes people’s eating habits, which also influences their health, bolstering a desire to keep fit. Later, their clothing sizes will change, which will influence their apparel buying habits. The rising obesity trend is still worrying, but hopefully, the Ozempic shift may help drive a shift toward healthier lifestyles.

There are still some key caveats that are worth mentioning. Most notably, Ozempic is no longer covered by some medical insurance plans due to rising costs, and it still has side effects of varying severity: nausea, dehydration, constipation, and even pancreatitis are just a few examples. That’s why doctors are cautioning against the frequent use of Ozempic by those who don’t need the medication.

Nevertheless, its potential to redefine the apparel landscape and disrupt various industries is still a narrative worth tracking. As modern medicine improves, it could lead to fewer risk factors or side effects, thus making it more possible for anyone to have access to Ozempic and other similar medications.