Relationships Product Manager

I worked part-time with Movember to develop the first brand product built from scratch with a team of researchers. Movember had conducted a research project with the University of British Colombia with a focus on the impact of separation on men. Studies showed that men were 8x more likely (than women) to suicide following a separation. This led to a focus on intimate partner relationships; arguably one of the biggest influences in our lives. In my role I dissected the work further to understand what was missing from the narrative, who we were hoping to target, where it would be best to work along the journey from single to separation, what a meaningful relationship meant and how we learn to create these, what behavioral changes and interventions are required to reduce negative mental health outcomes, what it might look like if we did, and how we might talk about this and engage men successfully while acknowledging and understanding the increasing pull of social media figures.
Note: images from user participants are shown with stock photography without names in order to protect personal information.

Key takeaways

• Men value their intimate relationships
• Men's friendship networks need support
• Measuring digital impact remains difficult
• Reaching men effectively is complex
• Difficulties of ethical decisions in men's orgs
• Differences in falling vs choosing relationships

What I loved

• Chatting to a vast spectrum of men
• The enthusiasm and support from participants
• Our incredible advisors and field experts
• Growing product skills at Movember
• Working with an exceptional Product Director
• Cultivating an inclusive environment

What was challenging

• Pushing for product beyond the web
• Numerous stakeholder layers
• Systemic change requirements
• Ensuring all men were represented
• Moving beyond systemic stereotypes
• Tone of language


I joined the project as the related academic research papers were published to transform the learnings from these into a product with real-world applicability (including mass engagement, utility, and impact). The ecosystem had a long history of downstream activity and Movember wanted to move into upstream action. The project was funded and we kicked off. And yeah, I had a lot of fun with my one-liners on this one!

Talking to men

I recruited and spoke to a wide range of men ensuring we included various faiths, relationships structures, LGBTQIAP+ identifying men, economic situations and jobs. I was incredibly buoyed by these interviews. They were deeply impactful, vulnerable and showed that nearly all the men I spoke to valued their partner relationships to a great extent. Unlike many women who have social circles that regularly talk about relationships however, men in general have far fewer networks and communication skills with this. While it appeared to be progressing, our society has reinforced these structures. Through this work I was able to gain valuable general insights, identify common trends, eliminate a number of existing hypotheses and develop a report on the findings and how they were placed with the academic research. The research also allowed us to identify a few clear patterns between dating, relationships, separation and single status of various phases.


From the research I built an empathy map to share with our team and researchers which would give us one of the bricks of our growing foundation. Additionally, I used this as a chance to get the wider organization concentrated on the feelings and what we were trying to solve for by building the research interviews into desktop wallpapers and quotes for reminders.

Young or old?

At that start of the project the academic research had largely covered men in their 30s and 40s however there had been internal discussions of moving downstream to focus on younger men. Through our product research I was able to identify a surprisingly clear age in which relationship thinking and patterns appeared to transition. Interestingly our research also consistently highlighted the need for young boys to experience starter relationships and learn from them. There were key areas where young boys had significantly different content needs dating and entering first relationships, to men who had relationship experience. After showcasing what would be required for each group, Movember was better placed with their audience to target the millenials first before moving to the younger stream.

Interesting action: try googling for specific relationship and sex based topics for women and then the same query but for men. Review the articles and image results - it's fascinating.

Stepping up the staircase

From the research into men's needs and their current status we knew we needed to start first by engaging men and supporting immediate needs before progressing into more complex areas. From expert insights into the high drop-out rates of men's therapy attendance, we also knew we needed to be able to provide quick value and action and establish trust. With this in mind I created our first take of the product staircase to illustrate how this might look and ensure that all of us understood the journey we were building for (that might change as we learned more along the route). I created this to be product agnostic and built for impact. We knew the behaviors we wanted to change and the intended positive outcomes for men (and all people in society) so at each step we could meet this with the right campaigns and tools rather than be trapped into a solution. This also laid the foundation for our product ideas and content; what do we need to do now rather than building for an unknown end determined product.

Ecosystem research

Finally, to ensure we were also truly meeting a market need and clearly understood our positioning and value, I undertook a large sweep of the market, other organizations and charities, our research papers, studied numerous other academic papers in the field and compiled supporting evidence whilst collating our unknowns and what was missing. Academia, community services, government policy, legal remedies and private products are mostly focused on addressing downstream issues including intimate partner violence. We wanted to head upstream to skills building and encompassing all men in their efforts to create meaningful, healthy, fulfilling relationships. This is where mostly paid, private programs existed but where corporate and government interesting was growing.

Non shitty personas

With that in mind, instead of creating detailed demographic personas which are often not useful, I developed profiles of people that arose during research and would be useful to the product direction, content development and marketing. Interwoven through these were hundreds of personas and combinations that existed within our target audience all with different personalities, experiences and relationship scenarios.

I wanted to move away from overly complicated segmentation (a more rigorous accurate-fit-always approach) with pragmatic market segmentation (capturing 70% of cases) in order to make it practical to use and provide us enough confidence to act.

I also stripped the typical ages, faux names and photographs from these profiles. We gave the profiles colors to present neutrally. I built neutral gender constructs, locations and cultural backgrounds within relationships. Though each of these would require specific research, content and marketing, the broad themes remain similar.

What does good look like?

While a lot our world is focused on toxic masculinity and there are prevalent examples of poor behavior everywhere, we rarely focus on good examples. We wanted to consider, what does healthy actually look like? How do we - as a society - want to think about positive masculinity? We also needed to rally everyone internally around what "good" looked liked so we had a framework of intentions and an idea of a healthy relationship that felt fair, meaningful and realistic for all partners involved. I found clips, examples of writings, speeches, books and podcasts that we could talk about. I mapped the insights from studies and interviews I conducted to create a pattern of healthy habits. We developed lists of known people that exuded different elements of positive traits and cross-checked these with our target audience.

Developing a strategy

Being a product with such a potentially significant impact, needing to translate academic insights into real world applicability, and requiring a very clear direction in order for the organization to proceed, I developed a comprehensive product strategy that covered our direction, triggers, the hook model, feasibility, desirability, individual and population impacts, where further research was needed, and how we would carry this all out. It was one of the privileges of my life to conceptualize this. The strategy was approved and onward we went!

I just read through the product strategy and am utterly impressed by how awesome it is. I feel like you should publish this document, as there are valuable insights and lessons to be gleaned from your extraordinarily thoughtful and thorough consideration of the issues, perspectives, and potential populations involved. I also love how the organization and flow of your comprehensive narrative reveal that you have anticipated questions, and how your compelling responses to those questions confirm the necessity and enhance the appeal of this product.
- Judy Y. Chu, Ed.D, Author
Chair, Movember Global Men's Health Advisory / Lecturer at Standford University / Partnership for Male Youth Board of Directors

Intervention levers

I outlined our intervention points to understand where our men are and how we can leverage the patterns at that moment in time to drive an action forward. I developed these using the theoretical model of change. Although decades old, this model is used a lot in health interventions and was helpful in knowing what our triggers are, what our audience might be thinking and doing in each phase of the change, and what our target men might need to push them forward or maintain.

These were also designed to be used during product reviews to aid in identifying the stages of intervention and whether these have held up or require experiments or adjusting. Continued future user research should also review these and ensure they are still accurate or update as appropriate. I highlighted attitudinal and structural barriers and ensured we spoke about these with our experts for ways to work with them or remove them.

Shaping the product

With the initial research phases over, I created and facilitated an ideation workshop to go as broad as we could with ideas. We included experts, target audience men and Movember team members alongside the CEO. We had a lot of fun and also produced a whole range of ideas to test. I brought together these themes and pulled the highest ranked ideas into a testing plan. After testing the ideas with a new round of research participants I analyzed the results, pulled out the trends, noted what required changing and which were most likely to engage men and be useful and presented this for executive consumption.

Where this is going is really great - it’s a f*cking great start. You’re more than on the right direction, you’re where no-one else is which is miles ahead.”

Research participant

Planning for impact

As the product developed I mapped out the theory of change and Movember's internal impact planning map. After the initial product release and with some more insights, I also crafted a clearer roadmap of how we might consider impact from six target levels and the measurement methodologies we needed to put in place to grasp our impacts and demonstrate them.

In thinking about our impact I grappled with numerous complex issues and spent time talking through these with our advisory committee, wonderful impact team and managers. For example, breakups and divorce are often empowering - at least for one person, and they can often be the right thing to do. Measuring decreasing separation for example is likely the wrong way to measure success. Measuring satisfaction or wellbeing may be difficult however too - if you separate and it was the right thing for you, you may still experience many months of pain and decreased satisfaction. That too follows onto the question, if it is women who are initiating separation more (for the right reasons for them), men are more likely to face negative mental health outcomes (as studies indicated). How do we instead build resilience in this scenario so that people can still make healthy decisions for themselves? How would we notice this impact (for example, increased friendship time, increased use of therapy, decreased suicidal ideation). How do we measure the amicability of the new structure beyond a separation? And if we are able to create a healthier relationship that then avoids a separation, how can we measure this?


I carried out the shaping of the product, content flows, wireframes and UX before handing over to an awesome UI designer to take these ideas further. We worked together to create interesting engagement and ease of access. An important element of our work was exploring visual options for photography and videography. We knew we needed to be inclusive and realistic but as an MVP didn't want to spend tens of thousands on custom shoots. Instead we sourced imagery and videos, pulled them together for brand approval and used these throughout. Interestingly we stumbled onto a bigger issue here. There is a huge body positivity movement for women in stock but this has far less traction for men. Finding men of all different shapes and sizes was exceptionally difficult in comparison with women. In testing, new users pointed out some of the men's bodies they saw which was a success for us; the fact they noted it was often because they see unrealistic views elsewhere.

Importantly through our work, I pulled together a list of design principles to ensure that no matter which department or person was working on - or reviewing - the work, we could check with that we were aligned to the principles. It's incredibly easy to fall back on stereotypes and we wanted to make sure we represented society and were true to the various lived experiences I had the privilege of hearing.

I saw the bloke with the pot belly that I have so it’s for me. Saw the bloke jumping into the water too, so it’s for the average bloke I think!

Research participant
Movember relationships

Developing content and channels

Producing the content we needed to start with on our staircase involved a significant amount of my time. I needed to translate what academic approaches outlined, what men wanted and needed, how we could package this up in a digestible manner and which channels we could leverage.

By far the most challenging to work on was the tone of content and its inclusiveness. As a relationship product for a wide audience that had learned how we needed to sound through our research, we needed to develop a new model to meet these requirements. Additionally, this field is flooded with certain figures with a strong pull; the way they speak and their tone often engages men. I pulled together numerous examples we could share amongst the experts, product and content teams to dissect what parts we liked, what we didn't and the mix of how we wanted to sound. From here I established our guidelines for tone and alongside the Product Director, a process we could use for developing the content from expert input (particularly important in developing activities and topics) through to the final output. One of our wonderful experts, a men's psychologist, then read through our pieces and edited it to provide clear samples of tone.

Ultimately I worked with our experts to create core pieces we would be starting with to test as part of our hypotheses, including a user generated experiment of activities, remedies for common problems with instant action steps, activities to actively participate in, a video series we could evaluate and a limited weekly challenge through instant message channels.

Adoption and fostering being in the mix here in the writing - I really like this, it’s something you never get asked and it's nearly taboo still.

Research participant

Testing, testing, testing

With numerous tests in process and an MVP underway, I conducted more testing with the challenges, activities, channels and products themselves. We learned an incredible amount through this and what was exciting for me was the number of comments on the design, freshness, and inclusivity without it being prompted. In their own language, participants noted that themselves, their family members, their situations or their friends felt represented. This was very heartening.

Interestingly from this round of testing came a big question of - how would I find this? How would I get here? Men themselves recognized they often relied mostly on the algorothim to serve up content, businesses, podcasts, events in the region etc rather than actively seeking them out or specifically following folks. Turning to big, public campaigns and onto social channels was the next stage of the product and these insights started to lead into how we might best develop these.

Movember Relationships Live preview
Movember Relationships

Producing a video show

From the validated ideas we narrowed down, one of the most expensive to pursue would be the development of a digital series that combined humor, vulnerability and hosts on a wide variety of topics within dating, relationships and separation. This was however a popular - though polarizing - concept. I wanted to test real world engagement and different formats with a tiny budget before any decisions were made to pursue this. I collaborated with an awesome Product Manager who was in the process of developing a significant mental health series for Movember and borrowed a couple of days of filming time with our resident expert. We then created clips with participants to test different formats of these on socials, email campaigns and media to land on a direction.

Big thanks to Thomas the excellent editor for these cuts!

Guys love videos Lis they really do. We’re not silly, we can read things, but are we really going to read it?

Research participant

Positioning and messaging

I developed the positioning to highlight where we fit into the field, and how we should message this product. In charities, government andcommunity services the emphasis had been focused on corrective behaviors, often in relation to anger or domestic violence. This approach likely limited and stigmatized proactive engagement with relationship services, and tends to take on a tone of engaging only with men who might be perpetrating violence. We wanted to change this. Additionally, I developed all the core and competitive messaging for the product so that we understood our place in the market, where we served and where we didn't, and marketing and media had answers ready to go.

Making a plan for marketing

Marketing was a big component of this work and also needed to specifically be part of the product. Stage 2 of our works were to create what we called Conversation Campaigns. Our user research had shown we needed to start the conversation in public and bring it to men in order to engage them. I went digging for the best campaigns and ads that grabbed men along with Movember's best performing campaigns for change. From here I created a four phase plan. Light touch marketing to aid our initial release and testing for feedback and invaluable data to collaborate on with the marketing team, our conversaton campaigns including guerilla marketing and partnership concepts, our user generated challenge and a dedicated social media strategy as much of the content itself was expected to be consumed here.

Given Movember's huge breadth and network scope, I had a lot of fun ideating and crafting examples. Shown here is an example of one of the proposed partnerships and the social media tone.

Movember relationships design product manager

Monthly reports

It's unusual to point out all the behind the scenes communication, meetings, dashboards and reporting that happens but at Mo we created easily digestible monthly reports so that all the teams, management layers and experts across the organization could quickly see a status update each month. It became a core piece to refer to and highlighted what was working well, what needed more attention and created a feedback loop into the internal process improvement team that was working on changes to make.

Lessons learned

At this stage of the project we had learned a huge amount about our field, about men, about relationships and about developing the first academic to real-life MVP within Movember. This came with unique challenges for such an established and well-oiled organization so it was useful to understand what we had learned and ensure executives, the board and process efficiency working groups were informed of our learnings and ideas for the way forward. I pulled together a report for everyone to consume at various details. Big shout out to the Product Director and Global Head for championing this within the organization to raise the quality of Product to the next level.

What's next

I wrapped up my time with Movember by outlining the coming direction, a six month plan for the business to rally around and which unknowns still needed to be addressed as the product developed. I was incredibly buoyed by the enthusiasm of men for this project and left knowing there was a vacuum in this space that was being filled with incredibly needed conversations and action as we assessed the status of relationships post-pandemic and how we spend our days together.

My many interviews left me with the impression that though we may not utilize the right words all the time, we have grown into significant emotional maturity and most of us would find it useful if there was more wayfinding and opportunity to have discussions about the shape of our lives, our relationships and the futures we want to create. In many instances I felt that the communiqué we see in mainstream society every day - whether comedy, campaigns, charities or corporations - was lagging behind what people were doing, trying, feeling, thinking or dreaming in the real world; in our cities as much as our suburbs.

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