Research type 
Year of report 

Summary of findings


Understanding the target audience

  • There are strong attitudinal barriers – disgust, embarrassment, unfamiliarity, not significantly better than formula
  • And significant lifestyle barriers – want others help
  • These prevent women trying or trying in a motivated way
  • Also, amongst less successful breast feeders, there is also less acceptance of any breastfeeding difficulty and lower motivation to preserve
  • Seems to be a more defeatist attitude amongst those who try but do not make it to 6/8 weeks

Perceived benefits of breastfeeding

  • It is important to communicate the benefits of breastfeeding:
  1. Best start – great for baby’s immune system and development
  2. It is only for a short time
  • Also to communicate the secondary messages:
  1. Better than formula
  2. Better in terms of bonding with baby
  • Should also communicate ‘for people like you’:
  1. Youthful
  2. Attractive
  3. Not embarrassing
  4. Discrete
  5. In control
  6. Modern

Influence of partners, friends and grandmothers

  • Dads are a good secondary target for a local social marketing campaign
  • Friends need to be influenced either as mums or at an earlier age – junior school
  • Mums are significant, but more willing to accept daughters choice

Influence of professionals

  • There is potential for midwives and health visitors to be more optimistic about their influence on young mums
  • The whole campaign can learn from their small steps and praise everything approach
  • There is also an opportunity to remind peripheral health professionals of their potential impact and that broader support services at least understand the value of breastfeeding and do not themselves hold this embarrassed attitude

Developing a campaign

The report presents suggestions for the development of the social marketing campaign, including:

  • Key target for the SMC
  • Aims of the campaign
  • Key messages
  • Tone of voice / visual style
  • Media
  • The emergent comms brief

Research objectives


Research objectives were as follows:

  • In order to develop and deliver a successful social marketing campaign it is crucial that the PCT first understands the target audiences.
  • More specifically to gain insight into the behaviours, attitudes, relationships, barriers and resistance to breastfeeding among professionals, partner organisations and residents within North Halifax.

Specifically, research was needed to shed light on the following:

  • the role of breastfeeding within the target groups
  • ‘barriers’ to breastfeeding
  • perceptions of breastfeeding among health care professionals 
  • the effectiveness and perceived availability of breastfeeding support within this area
  • the role of peers, family and healthcare professionals in breastfeeding in North Halifax
  • the perceived benefits of breastfeeding
  • who and what the main factors are that influence new mums decisions with regards to breastfeeding
  • the reasons behind poor reporting of breastfeeding rates at 6-8 weeks
  • the communications channels within the area with the greatest influence.



Calderdale Primary Care Trust’s vision is to improve the health of the people of Calderdale. One step on this journey is to encourage mothers to breastfeed.

The PCT is looking to develop a social marketing campaign in order to increase and sustain the uptake of breastfeeding for new mums in North Halifax, which is made up of Ovenden, Illingworth and Mixenden.

Quick summary


Research to gain insight into the behaviours, attitudes, relationships, barriers and resistance to breastfeeding among professionals, partner organisations and residents within North Halifax as a basis from which to develop a social marketing campaign to encourage mothers to breastfeed.

Audience Summary





Not specified



The women were aged 17-40 (primarily 17-21)

Social Class


Not specified




Research amongst the public comprised:

  • 7 x 1 hour depth interviews (1.5 hours if an influencer attended) with women who have never breast fed or were not able to continue to breast feed up until 6-8 weeks
  1. 2 subsequent mum
  2. 2 subsequent mum + father
  3. 1 first time mum + friend
  4. 1 first time mum + father + grandmother
  5. 1 first time pregnant mum + friend
  • 2 x 1.5 hour mini group discussions
  1. 4 women who breast fed (first time and subsequent mums)
  2. A friendship group - 2 women who rejected breastfeeding ( 1 pregnant and 1 subsequent) + 1 friend + 2 fathers
  • Approximately half the sample came from professional leads, the rest were friends put forward by other mothers

Research amongst professionals comprised telephone or face to face interviews with the following sample:

  1. 2 midwives
  2. 2 health visitors
  3. 1 GP
  4. 1 individual from social services
  5. 1 individual from the voluntary sector
  6. 1 individual from North Halifax Sure Start

Data collection methodology

Depth interviews
Focus groups

Sample size


22x mothers and influencers (e.g. father, friend, grandmother)

8x professionals

Detailed region


North Halifax, which is made up of Ovenden, Illingworth and Mixenden

Fieldwork dates


Between 1st and 29th of April 2008

Agree to publish



Research agency