balance: self compassion & digital health products | market research, evaluation, concept evaluation | Fall 2019

balance

integrating self-compassion into health products

Stepping on a scale can be a complicated, emotional experience. Weighing yourself is actually not all about the numbers; psychology, body image, and mental health play a big role as well. Furthermore, while there has been innovation in connected scales, there has not been much change in the way that weight information has been presented.

This research project sought to test and demonstrate that there could be a market opportunity for a compassionate scale.

my role

user research

project manager

the team

Evan Fowler

our approach

An experiment to test market fit

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the journey isn't linear,

let's not record it that way.

what were my responsibilities?

  • conducted literature review and interviews

  • developed survey and synthesized findings

  • developed visuals to communicate our research

what was the design process?

RESEARCH

UNDERSTAND

LITERATURE REVIEW

EXPERT INTERVIEWS

putting it together

TEST

CONCEPT GENERATION

SURVEY:  DEVELOPMENT,  DEPLOYMENT, & ANALYSIS 

EVALUATE

ANALYZE RESULTS

MARKET OPPORTUNITY

A thorough design brief validating opportunities to communicate weight status differently.

 

We ultimately didn't have the bandwidth to build, prototype, and evaluate UX components in 3.5 weeks. However, this project picked back up in Spring 2021, and we're working on building a functional prototype! Stay tuned.

what did I learn?

Learning Point #1

This space is not only a viable market opportunity, it's also one that has a lot more viability than I initially realized. It's exciting to design in spaces that can really empower consumers.  

 

Learning Point #2

I wanted to grow my design research skills in a health context for an interactive product. This project showed me how much information you can extract in a short period of time. While evaluating concepts in a survey is sub-optimal, this method produced a deep consumer insights that are useful before investing too much time developing a prototype that could have been misguided.

opportunity

How can we integrate self-compassion into digital health products, such as a self-weighing tool, to make this behavior more positive and accessible?

Our approach towards the problem space

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defining health

HEALTH

It’s easy to initially conceptualize health as how are bodies are doing physically--are we fit? Illness free? However, physical wellbeing is only one facet of health. Mental and emotional wellbeing are equally as impactful to a person’s overall health as their physical wellbeing; something that has often been overlooked in the American health system.

 

WEIGHT STIGMA

Stigma, psychological wellbeing, and physical wellbeing are all at play during self-weighing, but this is not addressed by traditional scales.

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This model shows how the complicated relationship between weight, psychological factors, and health.

from research into

design insights

Key Insight: Self-Compassion as a Moderator

Self-compassion is an emotion regulation strategy that involves taking a kind, nonjudgmental attitude toward oneself, particularly around challenges.

One review article, across 28 studies, found significant support for self-compassion's protective role against a negative body image & eating pathology.

 

​These studies are a key insight because it presents a design opportunity for compassionate wellness tools. A more holistic weighing tool may be able to accommodate populations that struggle with weight-focused self-compassion, decreasing the stress of the self-weighing process and leading to positive outcomes based on an individuals’ needs and goals.

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Competitive analysis

We found only one numberless scale comparable, the Shapa. Shapa focuses on behavior change and weight loss, different from our aim in creating healthier ways to think about weight. Other than Shapa, this research hasn’t been applied to products that are available in the market.

 

There is a space for a weight-monitoring tool that gives users information that is useful to them without a level of granularity that can be stressful or negative.

Ideation

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We began ideating after gaining a thorough understanding of the psychological effects of weighing. Due to a limited timeframe, we decided to evaluate our concepts using a survey. 

Balance Scale Storyboard

survey

We picked two of our most different-from-each-other concepts and evaluated them using a survey we distributed throughout our social networks.

The 33-question survey assessed:

  • current scale ownership

  • behaviors and emotions related to self-weighing

  • Concept 1 and 2 evaluation. Both concepts asked the same questions regarding perceived user experience and satisfaction 

Concept #1 - Pattern Scale

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Concept #2 - Bathmat Scale

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what were the results?

We collected 210 responses and over 130 comments on how to improve our initial concepts.

 

The survey validated some of our initial assumptions, while proving others were unfounded. Our sample skewed heavily female and we can assume most respondents were highly-educated, due to convenience sampling. We used open source coding to identify key themes, shown below.

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what were the key findings?

There is a space for a weight-monitoring tool that gives users the information that is useful to them without a level of granularity that can be stressful or negative.

 

KEY FINDINGS

  • Self-Weighing Frequency: many people do not weigh themselves more than once a week.

  • Emotional: Over 50% of people said that they always feel some sort of emotion when weighing themselves, and:

  • Negative Emotions: While some of the time people felt positive emotions, like pride, there was a significant portion of people who consistently experienced negative emotions such as self-consciousness or anxiety.

  • Communication: There were many disparate opinions about the best type and frequency of communication from the scale, so making those features customizable would be important going forward

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what feedback did you receive on the concepts?

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Conclusion ​

This was a pretty neutral concept. There were not many people who thought they would have an extremely positive experience with the pattern scale. Most people had strong reactions to the pattern, which was far from a final design.

Is there a market for a product like this?

Conclusion​

This was a polarizing concept, which stemmed from perceptions of an omni-present scale. 17% perceived they would have a negative emotional experience (not stop thinking about it), while 31% thought they would have a positive experience (where the scale fades into the background). 

Yes, we think so!

 

Americans have been buying $270 million worth of home scales every year since 2013 &demand is steady. Consumer spending on connected digital scales has almost quadrupled since 2013, with around 9 million units sold in 2018, and connected wellness products at large raking in $8 billion in 2018, up from $3.3 billion in 2013.

 

Furthermore, at least 60% of survey respondents who did not currently own a scale would consider using at least one of the conceptual scales in their home.

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What's next?

Looking to the future, Balance could expand to encompass a family of compassionate health and wellness focused products and services.

 

The Balance scale could have significant opportunity for integration with other health-focused products and apps (such as Fitbit, MyFitnessPal, Headspace, etc.). Initially, selling the scale would be the primary source of revenue, but premium features could be sold on a subscription basis, generating recurring monthly revenues.

A few last thoughts on the project

(in retrospect)

While the target customer segment still needs to be more clearly defined, the positive, compassionate relationship with users can be a very viable market opportunity. 

This project helped define design criteria to integrate into the product when moving forward, as well as demonstrating proof-of-concept and market opportunity for a numberless weight scale.