Vietnam – A new report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), in partnership with the United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and M&C Saatchi, has unveiled how aggressive marketing tactics have drastically changed how mothers decide as to what formula milk they would like to buy.
In Vietnam, around 92% of Vietnamese respondents say that they have been exposed to marketing tactics related to formula milk in the preceding year. In regards to the top channels where formula milk marketing is seen or heard among mothers, the top three channels in Vietnam were TV (86%), YouTube (35%), and social media (35%).
Another type of marketing tactic mothers often see are free samples, with 28% of respondents saying they receive free samples of formula milk in hospital, 22% receiving free samples of formula milk outside hospital, and 35% from either of them.
Almost one in five women in Vietnam (19%) reported seeing promotional booths in a health setting, offering women promotions, ‘advice’ and free samples, often in exchange for women’s contact information to allow companies to follow up later with consultation calls and promotions. Following that, formula milk representatives contact consumers online, through social media, and on the phone, and present themselves as legitimate sources of advice and support for women.
The report also noted that marketing campaigns in several countries focused on how domestic products are more “tailored to local stomachs” than international products to counter the influence of foreign brands gaining traction with women and health professionals.
“Formula milk companies use sophisticated techniques and misleading messaging to market their products, including scientific language and imagery, pain points, and emotional and aspirational appeals. They also assume a friendly, supportive role to pregnant women and mothers, exploiting vulnerabilities to gain access and increase sales,” the report said.