The First Year: Determinants of Infant Nutrition and Marketing Solutions for Community Stakeholders in the Roanoke Valley

Author: Snigdha Somani
Major: Business Administration
Approved: Fall 2020
Status: In progress

This project identifies infant nutrition patterns in Roanoke and the surrounding area, as well as some of the socioeconomic, demographic, and policy-related determinants of infant nutrition decisions. It is a unique data collection initiative, carried out by implementing a survey, intended to serve a variety of local stakeholders, ranging from WIC to breastfeeding support groups like BREAST Roanoke. The main contribution of the project is to fill a gap in data on infant feeding in our area and on challenges and resources for mothers during baby’s first year of life. Additionally, the project tests a set of hypotheses regarding determinants of infant nutrition outcomes, with a focus on two broad categories: (1) socio-demographics; and (2) community culture and resources.

After data collection and analysis, the results will be used to design a marketing plan and strategy while keeping local stakeholders in mind. Infant nutrition outcomes depend on misinformation and lack of information as well as socio-cultural barriers in the community. The goal of this project is to bring to light the cognitive decision process of mothers as they make their infant’s nutrition choices every day and provide information on the specific needs, barriers, and perceptions of the sub-groups of the local population. This valuable information can be used to develop a marketing strategy for local stakeholders engaged in improving infant nutrition outcomes. The marketing plan would emphasize the need for targeted communication that addresses the knowledge gaps and misperceptions of specific sub-groups. Additionally, the marketing strategy will drive the decisions made by brands in terms of brand positioning according to the different sub-groups based on perceptions of breastfeeding and material needs. The word “brand” here is loosely defined as an organization or company’s identity (both for-profit and non-profit) that provides a product or service to the community/population it serves.