By Martina Barjaková
Summer has officially started in the northern hemisphere and with it, the eternal problem of people not drinking enough water has become urgent to solve once again.
We all know drinking water is important for our bodies. And yet, we often fail to drink enough of it. Not because we do not want to, we simply forget.
So, what to do with this problem? Can behavioural science also help in this setting and provide some useful tools to remind us to drink more?
One day I was at my grandma´s and saw a huge glass full of water on her table. She told me she would always fill it in the morning and try to finish it by the end of the day. She also told me that without having it on the table, she would just forget about drinking water. In other words, she invented a very simple nudge for herself. Many of you can probably relate to this problem and have come up with such simple ideas yourselves.
However, there exist many more sophisticated nudges that have been applied in various settings.
Smart bottles and other technologies
We live in a world full of new technologies. And yes, the technological development concerns also water bottles. Nowadays there are several companies that produce so called “smart bottles”, which are designed as to remind us to drink water. Companies like Briefcase or Hidrate Spark developed bottles with microchips built in the caps or with LEDs, which allow them to start beeping or glowing if they have not been opened for a certain amount of time and so work as a reminder to the user that it is time to drink.
But many producers go even further, producing bottles that can be connected to mobile apps or wearables, such as Fitbit or Apple Watch, to allow you to track your water consumption together with other measures. Examples of such bottles are H20Pal, Ozmo Active Smart Bottle or Hidrate Spark 2.0.
If you do not want to invest in a smart bottle, you can just buy a gadget, such as Ulla, to be stuck on your normal bottle and to give you glowing reminders to drink. Or you can simply install a mobile app, such as Hydro Coach, Daily Water or Waterlogged, which will remind you to drink and will monitor your water consumption.
Drinking water while drinking alcohol
Apart from drinking water in general, it is especially important to do so on a night out – in between alcoholic drinks. However, as was the case before, people often forget about this. The famous beer producer Heineken decided to design an intervention to solve this problem. During the campaign called “This one is on us” they would automatically provide a plastic cup together with their bottled beer and they would install beer-style taps in the bars, from which people could tap water in their cups for free. In this way, they made water drinking easier, more fun (arguing that everyone likes using the tap) and made the problem more salient in people´s minds. And Heineken was one of the winners of the Brands Nudging for Good 2017 contest thanks to this intervention!
Drinking water as a public policy
Until now, we saw nudges that people can implement themselves and a nudge created by a private company. But drinking water is an issue tackled also by policy-makers, as they are interested in their citizens´ health and well-being as well. In Melbourne, Australia, the local authorities decided to install around 60 water fountains all around the city to make it easier for people to drink water when they are not at home. The placement of the fountains has been thought through carefully and they were installed in places with a high frequency of pedestrian traffic or in places where people usually do some physical activity.
To sum it up, it seems that behavioural science together with new technologies is making our lives easier once again. So, install your drinking app or buy a smart bottle and enjoy your summer without dehydration!