Sexual health 'retail therapy' pilot: Evaluation research
Summary of findings
Respondents spontaneously imagined a range of sexual health services, (a “Brook Clinic plus…”), but a shop housing services was well-received.
The ideal was a simple format for everything, with clear signage indicating process and journey through the experience - and no room for getting things wrong. The NLP intervention was felt – from the target audience perspective – to need to flow as part of the whole experience.
In marketing and explaining NLP, both target audience and practitioners prefer using more mainstream concepts and language like ‘confidence boosting exercises’ and ‘improving communication skills’.
General values for the look and feel of the shop were identified as high-street, confident, mainstream, feminine, up-market and colourful.
A simple, visible exchange (either payment for services or a free voucher hand-over) was ideal in order that the target audience felt validated as ‘proper clients’ under the conventional rules of a beauty treatment shop.
There was a strong need for an all-female staff (from bouncers to floor staff to NLP practitioner).
For the NLP expert witnesses, the concept had strong merit. NLP techniques were felt to be appropriate and suitable to achieve the types of behaviour change in the area of sexual health that one might expect.
An order of priority for techniques would begin with the Circle of Excellence, felt to be highly appropriate, and then to include options such as Mental Rehearsal, Sandwiching, Intuitive Questioning, Belief Changing – with more complex options being reserved for either the most engaged and intellectually flexible clients, or a possible second stage intervention.
Across both the target audience and the NLP professionals, there was a desire for a system and process that was well-managed and ‘risk-reckoned’ (all potential hazards piloted out/difficult to go wrong).
Importantly, a well-regarded practitioner was deemed essential and the voluntary nature of the experience should be emphasised to lower risk. Any pilot would also have to prepare for a range of possible negative responses of some members of religious and cultural communities.
Finally, the NLP aspect of the intervention is perceived to require more investment in terms of training, trialling, resource and post-care than may currently be envisaged. The message from the NLP experts, who endorse this approach in principle, is ‘NLP: For best results, seek to understand as much of the client as possible. Be flexible and adaptable. Handle with care’.
The main objective was to evaluate initial “design and content” ideas for the pilot to assist the development of intervention activity/processes that are as effective as possible.
Following strategic work (conducted by COI and DH) and research for social marketing interventions aimed at improving sexual health (conducted by Define), an interventions agency consortium (The Lounge Group) developed a number of pilot initiatives.
One of these initiatives was labelled ‘Retail Therapy’. It was designed to harness strategic insights and use NLP techniques to create behaviour change amongst the female 16-24 audience.
Women from Black African or Caribbean backgrounds were included in the research as they particularly at risk.
Key features of Retail Therapy included:
- Using retail locations, one in London and a possible second location in the North of England to provide the interventions
- Encouragement of females into this “shop” to offer them a choice of service which pampered them in some way (such as a mini-manicure, or hair-straightening session)
- Invite those who identified themselves as wanting to improve their sexual health confidence and behaviours to enter a second room (called The Studio)
- Applying NLP and confidence building techniques during a ‘brief intervention' within The Studio to promote behavioural change
Formative research was required with the target audience to further shape and refine the Retail Therapy pilot initiative.
Those interviewed in the research included:
- Target audience - females 16-24 - interviewed in the chosen urban environment for the pilot intervention (Brixton) and in a second location, (Sheffield) equally urbanised but outside M25
- NLP experts - to add to and refine NLP “confidence scripts” that were being proposed within the pilot
The ideal was a simple format for everything, with clear signage indicating process and journey through the experience - and no room for getting things wrong. The NLP intervention was felt – from the target audience perspective – to need to flow as part of the whole experience. Across both the target audience and the NLP professionals, there was a desire for a system and process that was well-managed and all potential hazards piloted out.
A cross section but with a deliberate skew to black women.
The methodology comprised five stages:
- Development Days working with a small group of target audience to build the proposition
- Expert interviews with NLP professionals/experts who will provide us with evidence and data that we can use to stretch the target audience response and understanding
- Workshop to bring the findings and emerging conclusions to the attention of the whole client team, in order to facilitate decision-making based on latest insights
- Local stakeholder engagement through interviews with stakeholders providing sexual health services in the environment
- Whole team ‘Walk-Through’ where target audience members would assess the technical and dress rehearsal of the event
The project ran to the end of ii) before being postponed due to issues with executing the initiative.
Final approach was as follows:
Development Days – 8 female respondents for 4 hours, including:
- Group 1: Aged 16-17 (highly creative individuals)
- Group 2: Aged 18-19 (highly creative individuals)
- Group 3: Aged 20-24 (highly creative individuals)
All were sexually active and self-identified as engaging in moderate to high risk sexual behaviour
The Development Days began with warm-up and a briefing, followed by a creative workshop session where the target audience were encouraged to work in small teams or pairs to develop and refine the different aspects of the proposition in principle.
Key questions included how the store could look and feel, how it would be set out, and what characteristics staff would have to best facilitate an open and welcoming front-of-house experience.
Respondents were then directed to explore potential customer journeys and how they might feel comfortable enough and informed enough to take advantage of the NLP exercises to improve their self-confidence in sexual situations.
Respondents were invited to leave the research room and literally go walking in the environment where ‘Retail Therapy’ was envisaged to take place. (This was most likely to be a High Street or a Shopping Mall).
Expert Interviews – 4 x 90 minute interviews with expert NLP witnesses, drawn from list supplied by COI and DH
Within the Expert Interviews, the concept was explained and then the specific NLP confidence-building scripts explored in detail.
Data collection methodology
3 groups (n=24) and 4 depth interviews (n=4)
19-26 August 2009