Using social marketing to encourage teenage mothers to breastfeed

Tapp, A. , Warren, S. , Rhodes, C. , Condon, L. and Withall, J. (2013) Using social marketing to encourage teenage mothers to breastfeed. Journal of Social Marketing, 3 (2). pp. 144-161. ISSN 2042-6763 Available from:

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Purpose – This purpose of this paper is to report on a study of the possible role of social marketing in encouraging breastfeeding amongst teenage mothers. UK teenage mothers are particularly prone to low levels of breastfeeding and there has been a lack of response to traditional health education approaches. The purpose of this paper is to report on an in-depth, qualitative exploration into the use of social marketing to address this problem. Design/methodology/approach – Qualitative interviews were conducted in 2009 with 58 pregnant teenagers, young mothers and their influencers to explore feeding decisions and examine social marketing options. The Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) emerged as the most appropriate framework to explain the major influences on breastfeeding. This was used to structure a solution that highlighted three strategic priorities for social marketing based on the TPB’s three components: changing attitudes, altering social norms and increasing confidence. Findings – Health benefits of breastfeeding were not disputed, but neither were they found to be a strong motivator for this age group. Personal benefits oriented to the mother were explored, some of which seem more promising in maintaining breastfeeding and the quality of ante- and postnatal service was critical. Finally, the “public” image of breastfeeding was often a negative, with the perceived lack of social acceptance of breastfeeding in public places acting as a barrier to continued practice. Originality/value – This paper offers insights into the experiences of this group of young mothers and the findings were shared with the health trust funding the research, to help in a clinical pathway redesign. A separate social marketing-based solution to counter this is proposed, with the long-term aim to make breastfeeding the default societal norm. Keywords Social marketing, Young adults, Individual behaviour, Breastfeeding, Teenagers, Theory of planned behaviour Paper type Research paper

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: social marketing, young adults, individual behaviour, breastfeeding, teenagers, teenage mothers, theory of planned behaviour
Faculty/Department: Faculty of Business and Law > Department of Business Management
Depositing User: S. Warren
Date Deposited: 01 Aug 2013 10:13
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2017 07:21


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