Strategic design for wellbeing


User research and strategic design lead


6 week engagement


We set out to identify new ways in which an airline could support members with their wellbeing goals on the ground and create ongoing engagement in their loyalty program.


Stakeholder interviews

Before we defined this research challenge, we interviewed key stakeholders across the business to understand potential areas for discovery.

The interviews were summarised into 3 potential opportunity areas that were discussed and voted on in an alignment workshop:

  • Innovating on the core product offering
  • Optimising existing acquisition funnels
  • Expanding the existing wellbeing engagement platform

A graphic facilitator helped visualise some of the key discussion points for wider playback.

Live scribing at the alignment workshop

After dot voting and lively discussion, the wellbeing opportunity area was chosen for further discovery, with particular interest in how small rewards might help customers achieve big financial, mental and physical wellbeing outcomes.

Desktop research and ethnography

One of the criteria we used to recruit customers was a subjective wellbeing measure, the Cantril ladder question, which has been used since 2012 in the UN World Happiness Report.

The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. If the top step is 10 and the bottom step is 0, on which step of the ladder do you feel you personally stand at the present time?

Cantril’s Ladder of Life Scale

We spoke to participants that reported at various rungs on this ladder to understand various states and approaches to wellbeing and discover possible environmental drivers and behaviours that could influence it.

Appreciative enquiry and co-design research approach

One of our first tasks was to capture a shared understanding around the term ‘wellbeing’. To begin this we combined models from our literature review with an analysis of our customer attitudes around the term.

An 8-factor model, or ‘wellbeing wheel’, based on the nested model of wellbeing was used as one of the research activities with customers.

Our research protocol combined qualitative data capture via appreciative enquiry as well as quant from the research activities that could be extended into a wider survey.

Appreciative enquiry is an intervention strategy for changing behaviour. Its purpose is to help clients explore and resolve ambivalence in reference to a current health and wellbeing behaviour, while respecting client choice and not imposing solutions. The phases of the intervention process are defined as Discovery, Dream, Design and Destiny.

Ludema et al., 2006

At their homes or place of wellbeing practice, we asked participants about:

  • Life challenges faced
  • Moments of personal growth
  • Their wellbeing goals and priorities
  • Barriers to achieving goals
  • What an ideal state of wellbeing could look like
  • Reward moments

Analysis and synthesis

One of the first tasks was for the research team to collate the findings from each of our interviews onto boards ready for synthesis.

We then read each other highlights from each of the interviews and started to create affinity diagrams of common themes.

Each participant’s lifestage was considered along with the demands on their wellbeing, their resources and locus of control.

Behavioural archetypes were drafted by grouping participants with common attributes such as wellbeing scores and wellbeing needs areas.

Stories, needs and painpoints from our participants’ challenges and wellbeing achievements were assembled into a journey where many opportunities for support were identified.

Finally, insights and opportunities were combined into four key focus areas to communicate to the business:

#1 My wellbeing is personal

The way we contemplate and engage in wellbeing is personal and can be triggered by a major life event or life stage.

How might we…

  • Anticipate wellbeing needs based on lifestage?
  • Help you track your wellbeing goals over time?
  • Provide the relevant next best action for your wellbeing goal?

#2 Guide me towards my wellbeing goals

To reach our wellbeing goals, we seek trusted guidance, through personal and professional channels.

How might we…

  • Help you plan for physical and nutritional wellbeing?
  • Provide trusted guidance for financial wellbeing?
  • Provide a community of trusted guides and peers?

#3 Help me balance my approach to life

‘Busyness’ and everyday demands can dominate life. We need ways to find ‘me time’ for self-care and to sustain our wellbeing.

How might we…

  • Extend brand trust to advocate for wellbeing and self-care?
  • Help others manage stress and balance the demands of life?
  • Offer ways to build and sustain habits for wellbeing?

#4 Breaking routine helps my wellbeing

Travel and other breaks from routine enable self-discovery and foster wellbeing while rewarding achievement.

How might we…

  • Bring your next trip into the context of your wellbeing journey?
  • Help highlight the learning and discovery that travel can bring?
  • Provide encouragement along the way to a bigger goal?

Prioritisation workshop

Using these artefacts, we were able to share our findings with the wider team. We ran rounds of prioritisation activities to stimulate discussion and began to identify where value for customers and the business could be.

Case studies and concept ideation

As we focused in on our key opportunity areas, we looked across markets to see who was already providing solutions for each problem space. We identified key business models, performance metrics, design patterns and technologies for each of the exemplars using the desirability, viability and feasibility (DVF) framework.

Leadership immersion session and video

To quickly create empathy and immerse the leadership team in our customer insights, we produced a video supporting each key need area with excerpts from our interviews, condensing 12+ hours of footage into a 3-minute package.


With a renewed view on where the key wellbeing needs of customers stood in relation to the existing offering, the business had a case to pursue further exploration into key opportunity areas and prioritise wellbeing initiatives.

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