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Shocking levels of infant formula marketing – Global issues

The global formula industry, worth about $55 billion, is targeting new mothers with personalized social media content that often goes unrecognizable as advertising. photo taken by Lucy Wolski above Unplug
  • by Baher Kamal (Madrid)
  • Joint press service

Regarding this, the World Health Organization (WHO) at the end of April this year explain that formula companies are paying social media platforms and influencers to reach out directly to women and pregnant mothers at some of the most vulnerable times in life. their.

The global formula industry, worth about $55 billion, is targeting new mothers with personalized social media content that often goes unrecognizable as advertising.

New WHO report titled Scope and impact of digital marketing strategies to promote breast milk substitutes outlined digital marketing techniques designed to influence new families’ decisions about how to feed their babies.

Businesses that buy and collect personal information

“Through tools such as apps, virtual support groups or ‘kids’ clubs, paid social media influencers, promotions, contests and forums or services consulting, formula companies may purchase or collect personal information and send personalized promotions to mothers and new mothers. ”

The report summarizes the findings of new research that sampled and analyzed 4 million social media posts about infant feeding published between January and June 2021 using the listening platform. listen to commercial society.

These posts have reached 2.47 billion people and generated more than 12 million likes, shares or comments.

Triple

Formula milk companies post content to their social media accounts about 90 times per day, reaching 229 million users; represents three times the reach of informational breastfeeding posts from non-commercial accounts.

This pervasive marketing is increasing the purchase of breast milk substitutes and thus discourages mothers from exclusively breastfeeding as recommended by WHO.

Dr Francesco Branca, Director of the WHO’s Department of Nutrition and Food Safety, said: “The advertising of commercial formula should have ended decades ago.

More and more powerful marketing techniques

“It is inexplicable that formula companies are now using even more aggressive and aggressive marketing techniques to increase their sales and needs to be stopped.”

The report synthesized evidence from social listening research in public online media and country-by-country reports on research monitoring breast milk substitute promotions, as well as drawing on Recent multinational study of the formula marketing experience of mothers and health professionals.

Studies show how false marketing reinforces myths about breastfeeding and undermines women’s confidence in their ability to breastfeed successfully.

Clear violation of the law

The rise of global digital marketing of formula milk blatantly violates the Marketing Code of Breastmilk Substitutes (the Code) adopted by the World Health Assembly in 1981. .

The Code is a landmark public health agreement designed to protect the public and mothers from the baby food industry’s aggressive marketing practices that negatively impact its operations. Grow kids by mom milk.

“Despite strong evidence that exclusive and continuous breastfeeding is a key determinant of lifelong health improvements for children, women and communities, too few children remain. Breastfeeding as recommended. If current formula marketing strategies continue, that share could fall even further, boosting companies’ bottom lines.”

Industry stops, government acts

WHO has called the baby food industry to end exploitative marketing of infant formula and to require governments to protect new children and families by enacting, monitoring and enforcing laws to end all including other advertisements or promotions for infant formula products.

This is the first time WHO has used a social intelligence platform to generate marketing insight into multinational formula manufacturers and distributors.

Social intelligence platforms monitor social media for identified key words or phrases, which they collect, organize, and analyze.

This industry standard approach “listens” to the billions of daily conversations and conversations that take place among social media users around the world and on other digital platforms, such as websites. web and forum.

This survey collected digital interactions that occurred between January 1 and June 30, 2021, involving infant feeding in 11 languages ​​and 17 countries, representing 61% of the population. globally and spanning all six WHO regions.

Pregnant women, exposed to aggressive marketing

According to a report jointly launched by two United Nations agencies in February last year.

The first report in a series by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), based on interviews with parents, pregnant women, and healthcare workers in eight countries.

More than half of those surveyed admitted that they have been targeted by formula companies.

Unethical

UNICEF and WHO argue that the formula industry uses systematic and unethical marketing strategies to influence parents’ feeding decisions and exploitative practices that compromise their nutrition. children and violate international commitments.

“This report shows very clearly that the marketing of infant formula remains pervasive, misleading and unacceptable,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, calling for marketing regulations. Exploitation must be “adopted and enforced urgently to protect children’s health”.

The report shows not only that marketing techniques in the industry include unregulated and invasive online targeting, but also sponsored helpline and advice networks; offer promotions and free gifts; and influence the training and recommendations of healthcare professionals.

Surprised? Well, no one really should, now the voracious urge to make more profits and accumulate more money has alternative nature and whatever is natural.

© Inter Press Service (2022) – All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service

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