How to prove behaviour change

Using Technical Observation to deeply interrogate natural, everyday habits

Seeking to reduce water use in tooth-brushing, Unilever wanted to find a new way to measure the process. As experts in technical film, data analytics and behavioural observation we combined our talents to build a new solution.

We found an accurate way to record each person’s average water use per second. Then we filmed their daily brushing routine for 2 weeks. This approach increased the time, length and accuracy of technical observation studies whilst also reducing the cost.

First with a pilot, we created a step-by-step process for the researcher to measure water flow and set up the cameras, ready for the consumers to carry on without the interference of an ‘outsider’.

The video footage was then collected, codified and tagged. This gave us accurate data for variables such as brushing times, water usage and the details of brushing ‘pathways’.

Using micro-observation of the footage as well as qualitative feedback from diaries, we overlaid sensory experiences onto the raw data. The results showed a significant difference in water usage and behaviour between different toothpaste formulations. This provided strong evidence and confidence to support product development and new communications.

1. Always try and remove the ‘observer paradox’ from your methodology.
2. Understand the value of digital capture for technical observation.
3. Don’t be afraid to try new approaches. If needs be, carry out a pilot study to build confidence in the method.