Our personal views about health are changing the way we want to be engaged

If you read every nutrition label on your food, listened to every ad about fitness, and read every pamphlet about your personal health… your life would likely be very different than it actually is today.

  • Data doesn’t motivate us, our loved ones and our personal goals motivate us.

This was a consistent finding from four recent projects that our CX Innovation & Design Thinking firm, PH1 Media, completed across the public health and food sectors. It is likely one of the main reasons public and private organisations struggle to engage consumers on public health issues, and also likely contributes to challenges related to other social impact and goal-based causes — like nature conservation, or higher education.

We believe that organisations who take advantage of this innovation opportunity can improve their marketing, user experience (UX), and customer experience (CX).

How users view their own health and personal goals

Our research was conducted over the course of four projects:

  1. Innovating the support smokers receive on their journey to quit

The constant factor across all of these projects was that consumers behave much differently about their health than you would expect they would.

In all four projects, consumers prefered to make decisions about health based on perceptions rather than verified data. Our research also showed that consumers tend to be less motivated by health goals, and instead motivated by personal achievements.

  • The majority of smokers prefer to get information about smoking from people like themselves rather than experts. Quitting may be their ultimate goal but they are motivated every time to meet micro-goals, like smoking one less cigarette per day.

Lessons for organisations in any industry

We believe these lessons are an innovation opportunity that allow organisations to create deeper engagement around personal goals, like health, food, charity, social causes, and community:

Lesson #1: Many organisations may be trying to motivate using goals that don’t align to what is important to a user.

  • Example: Finance, insurance, lotteries, and the real estate industry often use goals in their campaigns to encourage users to think about their future. For some users the future isn’t their priority, personal, near-term pain points are how they want to be engaged. Charity lotteries have been the subject of recent reports and studies showing that their customers can’t relate to the prizes and ultimately can’t afford them even if they do win due to taxes and other costs.

Lesson #2: Users are not motivated by goals, they are motivated by their ability to meet a goal.

  • Example: Committing to a goal of losing fifteen pounds may be less motivating than the knowledge that 90% of people achieve this goal within one year (and what the average person did to achieve this). Milestones along the way also help create momentum by showing that you are getting closer and that it is achievable. Unlike most charities that focus on large mandates Dosomething.org is a platform that inspires youth by celebrating micro-actions they can take.

Lesson #3: As much as users want to be the best version of themselves, they are generally more interested in limiting their relapses and finding a sustainable balance.

  • Example: Consumers are increasingly eating organic, eating less meat, and eating more local. For many, committing to doing these all of the time is a stressful matter due to their discretionary income and because of social pressures. For many people who want to achieve the goal of eating no meat, the motivation isn’t a result of being perfect, it is a result of balancing ‘poor’ behaviour (eating meat) with an increasing amount of ‘positive’ behaviour (eating less meat).We have observed that the motivation comes from meeting and exceeding realistic targets, often ones based on balancing poor and good behaviours.

Lesson #4: When users are seeking a trustworthy source, the majority prefer not to have to look for the information, they prefer to have a handful of authorities or certifications they rely on.

  • Example: Fair trade and unfair labour practices are major concerns today because so many food, fashion, and CPG products are sourced Internationally. While consumers may indicate that these issues are important to them, they generally would prefer to trust the brand, retailer, or certification than to look up how each product is sourced. The MSC certification is one of the most respected in the industry, however consumers do not seek verification of their purchases themselves.

Lesson #5: Many users are less interested in authoritative information, and more interested in getting decision support to help them understand their choices.

  • Example: Investing has traditionally relied on speaking to advisors and getting expert insights. It is now moving towards a model of automated products that help them make the investments that align to their goals and personalities. This may be due to users feeling overwhelmed by the the amount of information and choices possible in investing. They prefer to get decision support rather than advice and that is what fintech startups like Wealthsimple have done to reach new audiences.

Lesson #6: Users prefer to get support and advice from people they can relate to, not from experts.

  • Example: Smokers are less likely to call a support line operated by trained experts than they are to ask someone who is not an expert for advice. Our research found that unless the support line can directly answer their question, they would prefer getting support from people who have recently gone through the same issue that they have. This can come in the form of being able to ask them a question or reading about the experiences of people they consider to be similar to themselves. One of Canada’s largest banks, RBC, recently launched Arrive as a way to guide and new families and provide them hyper-relevant support.

Have you found similar results in your work? Our firm’s goal is to empower public and private organisations to think in a more human-centred way about behaviour, and this case it is about being more realistic and relatable when it comes to goals and support.

Arpy Dragffy is the Strategy Lead at Vancouver-based Innovation Research & CX Strategy firm PH1 Media. He works with leading Canadian and international organisations to audit and assess innovation opportunities through market analysis, CX/UX/Usability audits, Design Thinking, and research. He has two decades of experience in technology and experience design.

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