Public Health England’s ‘Live Well’ audience were 40 to 60-year-olds from lower socio-economic backgrounds, many of whom are on the brink of developing conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The challenge was to help PHE understand this group profoundly and holistically, in order to plan a broad set of behavioural campaigns to help this group live healthier lives.

What we did:

Ipsos conducted 16 ethnographic interviews with families across England, getting to know what it means to live as they do – their highs and their lows, and their barriers and opportunities to better health. Though broad, this research also examined key ‘unhealthy behaviours’: excessive drinking, over-eating, sedentary behaviour and smoking.

Key insight:

Their lives are busy and their disruptive working patterns – shift work or caring for grandchildren, children or parents – can make it much harder to lead a healthy lifestyle. For example, when returning from a long working day, many of their meals in the home are consumed in a ‘mindless’ manner – in front of technology, or reclining on the sofa. People eat while distracted, meaning that they consume more calories. Though difficult for people to articulate, this was clearly observed in the video recordings.


Ethnographic research helped PHE develop campaigns on a local level, as well as provide inspiration for creative work around the recently-launched national One You brand. It uncovered behaviour change insight around four complicated, often inextricable, unhealthy behaviours. This insight led to the development of a number of new tools and behavioural interventions.


Learn more about Ethnography