These are the first two questions that came to my mind when I received the challenge of creating a feature that delivers positive change to the world. My goal throughout this research is to get a better understanding of what positive change means for different people and to identify opportunities. At the end of it, I hope to be able to give a recommendation to a company interested to contribute in a positive direction as well.
Step 1. Persona
The initial persona is described as someone who wants to contribute to a better world, but she doesn’t want to compromise her comfort too much. But for this research, I would like to learn from people who are more involved in doing positive actions and who keep themselves up to date with what’s happening around the world.
My hypothesis is that our users are well informed and up to date with the latest news and follow reliable sources. They are aware of the need to change their daily habits for a better future, and they believe they are solely responsible for how they achieve that. However, they lack time, and they wish for an easier way of contributing.
(Method: Quantitative Research)
To get a better understanding of what sort of actions people take, when they refer to positive change in their life, it was necessary to discuss with a number of users that fulfill the following criteria: female/male, 30–45, stable income, higher education, uses social apps, has some knowledge of the sustainable development goals.
To identify those people I have created a Screener Survey which received a total number of 47 answers.
(Method: Qualitative Research)
Out of 47 people that answered to the survey, 26 agreed to be further contacted for an interview. Based on the mentioned criteria, I proceeded further with only 8 users – from Norway, UK and Ireland. I chose people from different countries, in order to observe different ways of thinking. 7/8 of the interviews were conducted during video calls, which allowed me to record them for further research. One of the users could only agree to a phone interview.
The interview questions were based on the initial hypothesis, however, each discussion was unique, and the order of the questions may have been changed, for keeping a natural flow of the conversation.
“ I have spent the last two years creating it (talking about Facebook newsfeed) just to have Science feeds, News feeds… I am very, very careful to put up my pictures. I tend not to interact with other people’s pictures. I very rarely like anything belonging to anyone else, because the algorithms kick in and ruin what I´ve been creating.“ (Dave, Ireland)
“Positive change means change of habits. This can be applied to: recycling more, reuse of food that you have and don’t buy loads. Reuse and recycle, Buy local. If you do that as often as possible, that would become a habit and that’s a positive change.” (Teo, UK)
“Positive change means that you really want to make an effort…Even if it doesn´t really matter on a global scale, because there are so many people and I am just one insignificant person. It matters if you actually start.” (Anna, Norway)
“Effortless positive change it is…effortless when it comes from a different mind zone. If people would work to have a different mind set from the beginning, to appreciate nature more or to appreciate people around them more, then that would become effortless. If you change how people think, then it wouldn’t be very difficult. So probably it comes from education, i would say. If education is good, effortless changes are happening” (Diana, UK)
“You have to be the change yourself. You can’t blame others for things if you don´t do it yourself.”
“We shouldn´t ask for organic food. It should just be The Normal. If I would have to make a wish, I would choose not to have the organic stamp on it. I would like it to be the other way around. The industry food to be marked as industrial and the organic food to get the normal.” (Anne,Norway)
“I am searching to buy local products all the time. And I bike from place to place, to all these shops, and I arrive back home with my backpack full and my back really hurts from carrying all this food around. (Diana, UK)
“ I would like to be able to support local businesses more, but it really comes down to economy´s scale …But on that side, it costs more money, more time, more travel to go to those individual shops, plus the trade of if I am driving the car to all these, or the trade of my time. Is it actually worth it? When I can go to one shop and get everything.” (Dave, Ireland)
“It should be the new normal: ok, we need organic local food. We don’t need anymore. If we can use Corona to something positive, you can see that it is so important to have all these farmers in our country. Because if there is a shut down, if there is something else and we can’t produce our own food, we just depend on others, that’s just a horrible situation” (Anne,Norway)
“I hate to waste, so I try to reduce waste as much as possible in my household, I plan in advance my shopping. So I buy only what I need. In terms of clothing as well, I don´t like buying more than what I need, or more than one item that I need, because I know it is very difficult to recycle clothing, if it barely exists. “ (Diana, UK)
“There are two ways to look at it. If I decide not to purchase an item in the supermarket, that it´s not in season, is that item getting thrown out? Is it going to a bin? Because that is even a greater disaster. Because after importing from somewhere, it was for no good reason, but at least if I purchase it and eat it, I´m eating it and it´s gone to good use. (Dave, Ireland)
On the first instance, after hearing many of the users talking about buying local, I saw an opportunity for creating an easier way to encourage this positive action.
Direction no 1:
Based on the learning I got, my further recommendation is addressed to a norwegian company that delivers food from different supermarkets, to make it easier for users to discover and buy the products that are local —(easy to understand what products are local).
However, relistening what one of the users was saying about Norwegian local market, made me question my suggestion:
“In Germany you have the big industries and then you have the small, organic producers. And there is a big gap in the way they produce. In Norway the farms are still in a small size, so they don´t need to use Antibiotica or those sorts of things. And I think this is the reason why the organic, local thing hasn´t grown that much as in US or other countries in Europe. Because you don´t have this big industry on the other side. It is an industry and it is still an industry, but it´s so much better than other places.”
After reflecting on this information, I believe my initial recommendation needs to be tested with users based in Norway. (the research has been done with people from several countries in Europe)
Direction no 2:
After a longer reflection on what I have learned from the interviews, my thoughts went back to the first insight — Positive change becomes effortless when it turns into a habit.
Is this something to look more into? Now that I recall some other quotes that I haven´t paid enough attention the first time, I would like to go back and dig deeper into another challenge:
Writer: Alis Chetreanu