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When it comes to encouraging consumer behaviour change there are many ways to go about it; hugs, nudges, shoves and even smacks.

But of all the behavioural science options, we believe it’s the nudge-nudge approach that can be the most powerful option for challenger brands. We look at how this has been achieved for a wellness-change activity for Sanctuary Spa, consider what an alternative option could look like and why the nudge-nudge (wink-wink) approach was best.


Sanctuary Spa wanted to address the nation’s self-care gap, by encouraging women to self-care every day and for long enough to generate a real benefit. Current time spent every day on self-care was 17 minutes, but consumer’s wanted on average 54 minutes.

One of the key reasons women don’t spend enough time on self-care is because they see it as a guilty pleasure, feeling bad spending time on themselves when they believe instead they should be spending time on family, work or chores.

The obvious way to tackle this barrier would be to embark on comms that persuade women ‘don’t feel guilty – because you are worth it’. This provocative approach could tempt them to ditch other behaviours and put themselves first. Or maybe you could try forcing a new self-care behaviour by installing an app on their phone, making them redirect their attention to self-care activities. Both these examples are tougher measures, heavy-handedly pushing one option, dissing the alternative behaviour or restricting their choice. Both examples are what you’d expect from a challenger brand. But both examples have drawbacks. They can be expensive, alienating and don’t necessarily pave the way for effective behaviour change.


Instead, Southpaw took a less obvious, challenger approach; the nudge-nudge (wink-wink) way. This approach combined a series of nudges, which in boxing terminology you could think of as ‘punches in bunches’ or even the ‘power of marginal gains’. These are consecutive, rapid, stealth-like nudges delivered in a sequence to effectively shift behaviour. We combined this with a wink-wink – the Humour Effect, which challenges the codes of the wellness and beauty category, and helps land a serious message in an engaging and disruptive way.

Together with the brand team, we developed the campaign ‘Embrace your 25 minutes-a-day’. This integrated campaign became a humorous look at what self-care really is (despite what you may see in those Instagram images), empowering women to embrace 25 minutes-a-day of self-care to create a daily habit.

A great concept but what made it more compelling was the series of nudges we used (the nudge-nudge), which can be a bold, powerful move for challenger brands. We used our bespoke neuro-mapping platform to help us identify the audience motivations and preferences, and then map the behavioural science interventions that would be most effective with that audience.

Outlined below are some of the nudges we used:

  • Framing - We took the bold move of shining a spotlight on self-care and used framing to change the way women think about it. Instead of seeing it as a ‘guilty pleasure’ we were framing it as ‘pleasurable necessity’. By highlighting the impossible then contrasting it with the achievable, we created a cognitive prompt: to re-evaluate their current attitudes to self-care.

  • The Contrast Effect - By highlighting the ‘impossible’ then contrasting it with the ‘achievable’ we created an unconscious bias effect to encourage women to re-evaluate their current attitudes to self-care.

  • Chunking – we broke the new behaviour down into achievable chunks. Instead of aiming for 54 minutes of self-care a day, we set a goal of 25 minutes, made up of small activities that anyone can achieve.

  • Piggyback Effect – we piggybacked the ubiquitous 5-a-day vernacular to make the goal memorable and relatable.

  • Authority Bias – we combined working with a psychologist with reinforcing the brand’s 44-year heritage in wellbeing to build trust in the brand and the campaign message.

  • Humour Effect & Saliency – getting noticed and standing out in a serious, often quite worthy category was critical, so we brought in a healthy dose of humour to build mental availability and appeal to the System 1 brain.

  • Social Proof and Commitment Bias – encouraging the idea to gain traction in social spaces has been imperative to get this new habit into culture. Social media and influencer partnerships play a vital role.

No behaviour change happens in one delightful leap. Instead a series of small nudges work unobtrusively to change the way a person thinks about a choice. If you think the nudge approach isn’t enough to create impact, consider the ‘punches in bunches’ – this will hopefully reframe how you think about the nudge. And don’t forget the power of humour (the wink-wink) to appeal to a consumer eager for positivity and to stand out as a challenger in a category thirsty for some fun.

Now, maybe you can go and grab a little self-care for yourself and ‘Embrace your 25-a-day’.

Southpaw Communications Ltd


Southpaw Communications Limited
Creative Advertising Agency
The Warehouse, Hill Street,
Tunbridge Wells,