Not-So-Secret Formula Enhancing Recruitment For An Organic Infant Formula Trial

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Mother lifting up baby outsideBlue color burst
2 Months
Infant Nutrition

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Marketing Misleads Mothers

The breast milk substitute (BMS) industry is known to mislead the public regarding the value of their baby formula products.

The WHO and UNICEF published a report on how aggressive marketing has pushed mothers and health providers away from the benefits of breastmilk in favor of the unproven benefits of formula milk.1 It is common for BMS manufacturers to promise qualities “closer to/inspired by” breastmilk, despite containing synthetic, lab-made ingredients.2

However, breastfeeding is not feasible for some mothers, including those undergoing cancer treatment, those with HIV/AIDS, or those using illicit substances.3 Organic BMS formula creators are now seeking to fill these mothers’ needs in an open and industry-regulated way. This way of operating implies transparent ingredient lists, rigorous testing, and the pursuit of FDA approval.

The clinical trial industry has changed to expect trial populations to represent all races and ethnicities. In the US, this remains a difficult task. There are many historical, cultural, and institutional barriers to diverse clinical trial recruitment. Mistrust is often higher for guardians of infants.

Infant nutrition has become part of the health equity conversation because non-Hispanic Black women and Hispanic women have more barriers to breastfeeding postpartum.4 For those who cannot breastfeed, a proven BMS becomes their best option.

Low Participation

In early 2021, a customer tasked Acclinate with helping them recruit participants for an organic infant formula trial. Again, diversity was essential to the primary investigator and executive leaders. However, the customer’s decentralized trial was suffering low participation, despite having traveling nurses available in 12 different large cities at the time.

The customer anticipated difficulty recruiting diversely from their target demographic: pregnant women due less than two weeks after enrollment. In addition, the large trust gap between communities of color and the healthcare industry made diverse recruitment even less likely.

Acclinate proposed a pilot program to assess and improve the customer recruitment process. With Acclinate’s targeted engagement strategy, the customer could finally begin approaching target participants more effectively.

Identify. Engage. Ask.

Acclinate identified a lack of trust, interest, and awareness in the customer’s organic infant formula trial. To establish trust, Acclinate planned a three-phase engagement strategy:
Identify icon
PHASE I: Identify
Acclinate assessed the population demographics near each site and identified where engagement would be the most effectively implemented. The ideal personas were mothers and infant care groups interested in organic living.
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PHASE II: Engage
Acclinate developed new marketing materials that better resonated with the target participants and showed the customer’s dedication to serving the community. In addition, Acclinate contacted interest groups, industry professionals and subject matter experts to help tailor and distribute digital content.
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Acclinate distributed I RB-approved digital ads to residents near the customer’s sites. These ads linked to a landing page for the customer’s organic infant formula trial. Interested participants submitted their basic demographics and contact information. Then, a trial coordinator would contact the participant to arrange a screening.

Throughout the engagement campaign Acclinate tracked the number of impressions leads and referrals that the campaign generated. In addition, the customer also provided feedback, participants survey responses, and enrollment data.

Acclinate’s Impact

The customer made several significant administrative changes that created lengthy delays. As a result, Acclinate’s engagement campaign was only in phase III for 60 days. Those 60 days proved to be fruitful, resulting in:
unique impressions
clicks per day
increase in participant screenings