The Journey of Water
Designer, Researcher
10 weeks
Intercept Interviews, Systems Thinking & Mapping,
Visual Design, Secondary Research
A four-part journey that aims bring grocery store customers along to raise awareness, change their behaviors and empower them to participate in water conservation efforts.
1. Posters and Wayfinding for Awareness
2. Water Cost Labels
3. Saved Water Calculator
4. Flow App
Collect water savings, convert into travel mileage
Intercept Interviews
We started by conducting intercept interviews to 10 individuals, asking them these 2 questions:

Do you know the current drought situation in California?
Do you know how much water it takes to produce meat?

Even though drought seasons are stretching longer periods of time, and getting more extreme, only 2/10 individuals were aware that California is still in a drought.

90% of our participants were also unaware that meat production is an extremely water intensive activity. Which brings us to the problem that we were trying to tackle—raising awareness to the drought situation and encouraging the reduction of meat intake.
Identifying the Problem
And the reason for the massive water consumption in Agriculture is because of the food we consume: Meats.
The reason for this massive water usage lies in the food that the animals consume. Corn and soybeans—which are typically used to feed them—are extremely water-intensive.
Interviewing to Understand Behaviors
We interviewed four people of various dietary lifestyles—vegetarians and meat lovers—to understand their thoughts around food and impact.

And the key things we learned are that:

1. People don't feel the urgency, and don’t think it’s their responsibility to act upon or try to make change.
"I don’t go beyond what’s in front of me. If I need a bag at the grocery store, I’ll still take it. If I don’t, then I won’t take it.”
2. People feel discouraged because the problem is huge and their efforts are “small”.
"I played no significant part in changing the current ethical problems faced by animals and workers in factory farms.”
—Willy J
Understanding our Audience
We then observed and learned that there are two types of grocery shopping customers.
Goal-Driven Customers
The first type of customers are Goal-Driven and have existing purchase goals. It's trickier to persuade them to choose differently, but awareness and acceptance might be achievable.
Exploratory Customers
The second type of customers are Explorers and have no definitive purchase goals. We think there's more room to influence their purchase decisions.
Finding Leveraging Points
Subsequently, we mapped out their journey and looked for opportunities to intervene.
Their journey is split into 4 main phases:
Needfinding, Arrive at Store, Browse in Store, Check Out.
Brainstorming Solutions
We came up with a total of 30 concepts, and sought for feedback from our peers. These were the selected concepts that had most positive feedback.
From this, we did a final selection of solutions to proceed with according. We decided by aligning which of these would align best with the intent that we had:
Transparency of information & Visualization of Impact.

A Journey towards Impact
We then mapped our design solutions to make sure there's an opportunity for customers to learn about this problem at each phase and take action should they be ready to.
The Entire Journey
The following is a  video to illustrate how all the touchpoints live together.
Below is a breakdown and closer look at each of the touchpoint at the different phase of the journey.
Arrive at Store
Customers would be able to see posters all around the store that explains water usage in meat production, raising awareness for this issue.
Water Intensity Signages
As customers approach the meat stock, they would see the water intensity signages on the floor. Since the meat section is typically organized by animal sources, we mapped the intensity of water usage on the floor—from least to most water intensive.
Browse in Store
Water Cost Labels
We developed a water efficiency rating system which will then be reflected on the meat and food labels.

We think that these labels are the most crucial touchpoint for this project. By making information more accessible, we would be able to educate and empower customers; they can compare water-efficiency of different products, make wiser purchase decisions and realize that the potential for impact and change is in themselves.
Check Out
Saved Water Calculator
When customers check out, they would also be able to see how much water they saved based on their purchases.
Flow: Collect Water Savings, Convert to Mileage
Customers will be able to create an account on the Flow app, and accumulate their water savings for a trip. We visualized it in the form of a journey, starting from where the customer is, to a national forest of their choice.

This is so that customers are able to visualize their impact, and be encouraged to continue on the water saving journey that they have embarked on.
Because of the complexity of the problem, we were aware of the need to be careful of our approach to the solution we're proposing. So, instead of focusing on an ambitious single solution, we thought that breaking it down and turning it into a journey would be more effective for behavior change.

Through talking to people, I learned that trying to enforce change isn't the best way to enact change. I realized that small incremental steps that contribute to big changes can be more powerful.
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