Test Kitchen - Feb

The formal agreement between Meals on Wheels SA Inc. (who will auspice the funding for the Test Kitchen project) and OFTA (SA Health) was signed on Friday 13 February 2015.

The first two weeks of formal project activity under this funding has been busy. We participated in the first co-design and business models mentoring workshop at TACSI on Monday 16 February. The workshop took up from where the previous “power-up sessions” left off where we had scoped our customer segments and defined the job to be done (for our primary customers at least). This workshop focussed on brainstorming the strategic activities of the enterprise that would deliver the value to customers and we considered the question: what would need to be true for this strategic activity to be successful?

We identified a number of core strategic activities during this workshop:

  1. Host in community;
  2. Host@Home (which is a collective of a number of different home-based social meal models);
  3. Pop-up community dining;
  4. Community kitchen and dining; 

Each strategy was associated with ten or more assumptions that we considered would have to be true for the strategy to be successful in delivering on social meal time value to customers. The most critical of these assumptions were:

For Host in community:  (a) that customers want to eat socially in community environments; and (b) That volunteers want to host older people for meals in community environments

For Host@Home: that (a) that customers will host shared meals in their homes; and (b) That customers will be guests to shared meals hosted in the homes of others

On February 18, we tested the assumption associated with the Host in Community strategy at a shared lunch in a community setting in Port Augusta, South Australia. This was based within the Meals on Wheels branch in that community. Below, we outline the results of this first ‘Host in Community’ experiment (using hypothesis (a) as an example).

Experiment 1

(a)          That customers want to eat socially in community environments

Core activity being tested: Community dining

Hypothesis: That customers want to eat socially in community environments

Methods: A simple community dining event was hosted by TK and the Meals on Wheels SA (MoWSA, Port Augusta Branch) in Port Augusta (South Australia) on Wednesday 18 February 2015. We assessed the attendance rate from a defined population of invited guests.

The event made use of MoWSA Port Augusta standard practice; where annually they host a branch birthday and AGM afternoon tea at the Port Augusta bowls club, to which all regular clients and their chosen guest (family, carers, friends) are invited. We adopted this same familiar approach, with the major difference being that TK catered a 2-course roast dinner + dessert (lunch) rather than the MoWSA afternoon tea.

Customers (participants): All MoWSA Port Augusta branch regular clients (n=45) were invited to attend this event. Invitations contained no information on what TK is or what it seeks to achieve, so as to not confound natural interest/desire in attending (i.e. from attendance we can infer that intrinsic value in social dining in a community setting is present).

Primary Measures: Attendance rate of invited MoWSA Port Augusta clients

Secondary Measures: Proportion of MoWSA Port Augusta clients who attended with extra guests; number of extra guests (expressed as a per person average)

Results: 18 out of 45 (40%) regular MoWSA Port Augusta clients attended. Of these, half brought at least one additional guest.

Primary conclusion: That 40% attendance rate in a population of primary customers represents strong evidence that these customers want to eat socially in community environments.

Secondary conclusion: That the 50% of primary customers who brought an extra guest represents that support networks do exist for primary customers and that these support people place significant value on social dining (for themselves and/or the primary customers).

Overall conclusion: Taken together these results suggest significant market and customer value of community dining events in this population.

Where to from here?

The next two months will be focussed on testing assumptions implicit in our various Host@Home models, both within the MoWSA organisations and in community more broadly. An outline of our expected schedule of experiments in included below: