Research type: 

Qualitative

Region: 

National

Year of report: 

2010

Summary of findings: 

Responses to stimulus material indicated that social norms messages can potentially form the basis of a campaign strand with appropriate creative development. In order for this mechanism to be effective, however, the audience need to be taken on a ‘journey’ whereby they see a well done message alongside a personal risk assessment message. This prompted respondents to query where they were personally in relation to others and prompted a desire to be part of the better norm. Different clusters do have defences around why they have not achieved these behaviours to date which will need to be addressed and mitigated via some executional detail and in the call to action. Building in some fulfilment to social norms messaging (e.g. receiving a Snack Swapper tool, or personalised action plan) may help overcome barriers to participation and facilitate change. Increasing interaction levels between audience members and C4L in this way could also lead to greater attachment to the campaign objectives and messages. The research explored four areas around which social norms messaging was focused. These were joining Change 4 Life, specific Change 4 Life behaviours (5-a-day, activity, snack swapper and HTK completion), specific Change 4 Life benefits (free swimming and Snack Swapper) and the HTK survey (completion and receiving an action plan). Findings indicated that the areas which had the most potential were: C4L behaviours (behaviour change): • At a principle level the behaviours that worked most effectively fulfilled the following criteria: o A clear link to healthy behaviour, appeared easy to achieve, ‘easy to measure’ behaviours, not requiring extra expenditure • Therefore, of the behaviours tested, those that performed best were: ‘Snack swapping’, ‘5 a day’ (although this was felt to be a regularly heard message and therefore lacked novelty) • These principles also highlight potential for additional C4L behaviours: o ‘Snack check’, ‘60 minutes activity’ and ‘regular meals’ (N.B untested). C4L benefits (behaviour change and acquisition): • Snack Swapper - if details of the tool are provided • Free swimming - potentially a very powerful incentive to respondents to get involved with C4L • It will be important, however, to ensure that the benefits described are definitely available and in the local area. If not there is a real danger of a backlash against C4L. HTK (for acquisition): • Respondents were interested in completing the HTK when they found out about the personalised Action Plan and tips. Therefore, communicating these benefits as ‘reasons’ to complete HTK is likely to be required in conjunction with social norms messaging. • A strong push to completion is, however, likely to be required and could potentially be achieved via schools or flagging up the benefits via a door drop. Whichever the focus of norms, the audience needed to be able to readily ‘compare’ themselves against others in order for the norming messaging to be effective. Some clear guidance emerged on the expression of location and numbers that optimise the impact of social norming: Location • Being as specific and local as possible in terms of naming an area is more likely to be successful. • Referring to main towns and cities is also likely to have a good impact for those living there or close by (although there was some evidence of disassociation with nearby towns from semi-rural respondents). • Using ‘your area’ also has a positive impact as long as the audience can (if they wish) see where the data has been drawn from (there is a slight risk, however, that there could be some pushback if they don’t see any evidence in relation to this) Expression of numbers • The most powerful expression of numbers were proportions, e.g. 7/10 people and should ideally be coupled with location to increase comprehension and impact. • In order to have greatest impact these proportions need to be high enough so that the audience can see that they are in the minority (i.e. many people are doing this so perhaps I should) but not so high that the main take out is 'nearly everyone is doing this’ as too high a proportion: o means the message is seen a well done message only and not an invitation to improve o reduces the potential of the respondent/audience to consider themselves in the worse minority (they feel they are ‘more likely’ to be in the larger group) • The most motivating proportion then is around 6 or 7 out of 10 • Using large numbers alone, e.g. 65,000 people can also have some impact but needs to be anchored to a location in order to clarify to the audience that this number ‘could include them’. Most of the stimulus as executed failed to connect with the audience due to a number of factors, but some clear guidelines emerged for going forward: Visuals • Using characters to depict more literally ‘real life families, situations and individuals’ is likely to have greater impact and meaning versus using a multitude of figures in the executions to convey the high numbers of people involved. Call to action/Copy • It is important that the CTA/copy sets out a clear invitation for the audience to join in this time • It will also be necessary to demonstrate what is included in the HTK - details of the benefits and collateral are likely to be really helpful in reinforcing motivation to participate. • Ideally alternative means of contacting C4L should be provided to prevent lack of IT skills or access to a computer being barriers to participation. • Demonstrating (in brief) a valid data source for the facts will be necessary in order to offset any push back on C4L claims.

Research objectives: 

The overall objective of the research was to inform understanding of the potential value of a ‘social norms’ approach (in terms of engaging the audience, influencing behaviour and driving HTK completion) and any parameters around how this type of messaging needs to be delivered for best impact. In addition, the research aimed to provide an assessment of the relative strength of different executions and concepts.

Background: 

The Department of Health (DH) was interested to understand the potential of a new advertising strand in the C4L campaign that looked to harness social norms theory. The stimulus developed for testing aimed to prompt a reassessment amongst the audience of what constituted ‘normal’ behaviour in relation to diet and activity. Research was required to gauge the potential of this advertising mechanism with regards to effecting positive behaviour change and/or driving interest for the second wave of the HTK survey.

Quick summary: 

The overall objective of the research was to inform understanding of the potential value of a ‘social norms’ approach in the Change 4 Life campaign. The research indicated that social norms messages can potentially form the basis of a campaign strand with appropriate creative development. Whichever the focus of norms, the audience needed to be able to readily ‘compare’ themselves against others in order for the norming messaging to be effective.

Audience Summary

Gender: 

Male
Female

Social Class: 

BC1C2DE

Methodology

Methodology: 

 

The fieldwork consisted of eight trios and four groups with the core target audience, with the sample structured as follows:

 

 

Cluster*

5

5

2

2

 

Groups of 4-6

 

C2DE

C2DE

C2DE

C2DE

Urban

Semi-rural

Urban

Semi-rural

Sheffield

Redditch

Camberwell

Sheffield area

Cluster*

1a

1a

1b

1b

Trios

 

C2DE

C2DE

C2DE

C2DE

Urban

Urban

Semi-rural

Semi-rural

Sheffield

Sutton Coldfield

Kings Langley

Redditch

Cluster *

3a

3a

3b

3b

 

Trios

 

 

C2DE

C2DE

BC1

BC1

Urban

Semi-rural

Semi-rural

Urban

Camberwell

Sheffield area

Kings Langley

Sutton Coldfield

 

 

*cluster of lead respondents

 

Additional considerations for the sample were as follows:

·       All respondents were female and the primary carer in their household

·       All had children aged 2-11 and there was a spread of family-size across the sample

·       There was also a spread of family composition, meaning that:

o    at least half had an oldest child aged 11 or under

o    there were a mix of boys and girls aged 2-11 in the families represented

o    a mix of parental circumstances (i.e. single or partnered) was included

·       A spread of levels of engagement with and awareness of Change4Life was represented, i.e. different levels of familiarity with TV advertising

o   However, no respondents were to have responded to HTK or to be on the Change4Life customer database, i.e. to have registered with Change4Life via the website or telephone 

 

Data collection methodology: 

Focus groups

Sample size: 

c. 50 respondents

Detailed region: 

Sheffield, Redditch, Camberwell, Sutton Coldfield, Kings Langley

Fieldwork dates: 

March 2010

Contact Name: 

Helen Selby

Email: 

helen.selby@coi.gsi.gov.uk

Role: 

Research Manager

Agree to publish: 

Private

Research agency: 

Define

COI Number: 

301934