Honours students at Griffith University’s Department of Marketing carried out extensive market research in the development of a new maternity product launched today (Friday).

Led by Associate Professor Sharyn Rundle-Thiele, and including research assistant Ville Lahtinen, the research team organised and conducted online surveys with mothers and midwives at Mater and across Australia.

The three-and-a-half year study gathered opinions from more than 3,000 mothers and more than 100 midwives on the best and worst of baby care.

Mater Mothers today launched the first in a line of maternity and baby care products to have been developed as a result of the research and extensive product testing. Mater Body Balm for pregnancy softens and replenishes the skin through the stress and stretching of pregnancy.

All proceeds from product sales will go to Mater Little Miracles supporting specialist life-saving care for seriously ill and premature babies at Mater Mothers’ Hospitals.

“We have used a range of cutting-edge market research techniques to help Mater understand how care for mothers and their babies can be extended from the hospital into homes,” Associate Professor Rundle-Thiele said.

“The students had a hands-on involvement from the outset and they gained an insight into the rigours of market research, branding and the importance of sustained attention to detail in data gathering. They experienced firsthand how their university learning experience can be translated, in this case, to a health setting.”

Each of the students earned a distinction on their honours theses. Ville’s honours project tested the price premium people would be willing to pay for midwife endorsement.

Mater partnered with Griffith University researchers in October 2009, aiming to improve its understanding of how best to continue the delivery of exceptional care for mothers and babies.

One in seven Queenslanders is born at Mater Mothers’ Hospitals each year making Mater Mothers Australia’s largest provider of maternity care.

“Mater Health Services has a long-standing history of providing exceptional care to mothers and their babies in hospital and these products are a natural progression, enabling Mater to continue this care into the home,” Director of Women’s Health Services Maree Reynolds said.

“This product and the ones yet to come are unique in the market place as Mater midwives have offered their expert opinions in Griffith University research making sure the products offered can better meet the needs of mothers and their babies.

“We are thankful to the wonderful group of mothers who trialled the body balm and offered their feedback. This collaborative approach has allowed us to create this ideal moisturising treatment.”

A sample of Mater Body Balm for pregnancy will be offered to mothers at Mater Mothers’ Hospitals in the lead-up to the retail release of the full-size (150g) product at the Brisbane Pregnancy Babies and Children’s Expo next month.

The Mater product range will also include baby wash, baby moisturiser, nappies, baby wipes, nappy balm, maternity pads and nursing pads. The product range will be launched throughout 2013 and will be available online at matermothers.org.au and at selected pharmacies including our own Mater Pharmacies.