What role has product design played in your social marketing programs?

Social Marketer Nancy Lee has suggested that "product innovation is key to many people changing their behaviors." She envisions, for example, two innovations that could be standard in automobiles of the future:

  • A built-in breathalyzer (perhaps where the cigarette lighter or ashtray used to be) that will let us know our blood alcohol level at any moment.
  • A meter that tells us the anticipated cost of gas per trip based on the miles we are driving and how fast we are going--possibly yielding more economical and thus environmentally-friendly trips.

She imagines that these types of innovations could really change behavior by empowering us to make better decisions at critical moments.

One of her favorite examples of existing product innovations is text4baby, which sends timely text messages, or prompts, to pregnant women and moms tied to the baby's due date. Messages range from prenatal care to introducing food types to reinforcing breastfeeding to immunizations and beyond (See sample message content.)

Recipients can choose the messages to arrive one or two times per week, through 18 months or 2 years of life for the child. Nancy said, "For prenatal care and early care, that’s one of the coolest things." She added, "I’m a big fan of that kind of thing – reminders."

She said the CDC has some similar, customizable tools for flu season and seasonal tips for protection against skin cancer that can serve as needed reminders.

Another new release in product realm is the CDC "Solve the Outbreak" iPad app designed for, as the CDC described, "teens, young adults, and public health nerds of all ages." The app helps share information with the public about the spread of infectious diseases.