There was a brief media flurry recently when the BBC website reported about Finnish babies sleeping in cardboard boxes. Despite the provocative headline, the article was overwhelmingly positive, relating how the Finnish Government sends boxes filled with essential clothing, bedding and nappies to new parents.

Predictably the UK media smiled at those progressive Scandinavians with their collective spirit, and the quaintness of actually thinking it’s a good thing for your baby to sleep in a box (instead of a designer cot?!).

We’ve worked with leading baby brands in the UK for more than 10 years, and are now strategic partners to Danone Baby Nutrition across Europe and beyond, so this story had more interest for us than just another quirky magazine feature.

Direct Marketing isn’t dead!

Forgive me for repeating myself, but there’s definitely a time and a place for high quality direct marketing to deliver important messages and make an impact way beyond any email or tweet.

Use ‘nudges’ to encourage the behaviour you want to see

The Finnish Government introduced the boxes as an attempt to reduce infant mortality. By giving mothers a separate bed for their baby, they hoped to reduce the incidence of babies sleeping in their parents’ beds. In more recent times they’ve removed bottles and teats to encourage breastfeeding, and swapped disposable nappies for reusable cloth nappies.

Think about long term campaign benefits

In our world of short attention spans and social media, trending topics and campaigns are lucky to last a few days. On the face of it, the baby box looks pretty expensive, but there are benefits that will run and run, for example:

  • Fewer mums taking their baby to their GP/hospital
  • Greater wellbeing of new mums
  • A more positive feeling towards Government, leading to a greater sense of overall wellbeing among Finnish families, leading to better approval ratings…

As a Finnish mum reflects, “there was a recent report saying that Finnish mums are the happiest in the world, and the box was one thing that came to my mind. We are very well taken care of, even now when some public services have been cut down a little.”

Don’t think solely in terms of a short term response and return. Think how your activity has a life beyond the immediate campaign, especially in a category like Baby, where the market refreshes itself every year, and word of mouth is so important.

Expand your horizons to learn

Marketers should be open to ideas from anywhere, and seek inspiration from beyond our own shores and specialist product categories wherever possible. The UK Government has a Behavioural Insight Team that aims to use best practice from around the globe to create changes in behaviour, like Norway reducing food waste at hotel buffets!

Our experience working with Danone Baby across multiple countries has helped us to understand different cultures and practices. For instance:

  • The relationship between new mums and their healthcare professionals varies enormously across countries, which has significant implications for brand communications with both consumers and HCPs
  • The rate and stage at which new mums return to work in (for example) Poland and The Netherlands is very different from the UK

To find out more about how we’re helping to share best practice, learning and cross-fertilise ideas across markets, do get in touch.



About the author

Chris Moody, Head of Insights & Data Strategy
Chris joined The Real Adventure Unlimited in 2003 after 10 years working client-side with Kraft, St Ivel and Barclaycard. From Day One at TRA he has immersed himself in the world of mums and babies, leading our strategic planning for Aptamil, the leading brand of baby milk in the UK, with CRM programmes for both consumers and healthcare professionals. He recently took on a new role as Head of Insights & Data Strategy, to build the agency’s capabilities in developing compelling consumer insights as well as harnessing and exploiting the challenges and opportunities of Big Data for our clients.