I've invested three years during my undergraduate career to understanding period taboo and its relation to period product marketing through qualitative and quantitative studies. Why? Brands matter. They matter because they influence society and shape societal norms. And periods matter. They're a source of discomfort, embarrassment, and shame for billions worldwide. It's time for period brands to take it seriously. 
In advertising, I’m not only interested in strategizing how to sell the product, but how to sell it while being conscientious of the greater message behind the advertisement and how it may affect society and consumers.

Phase 1

Breaking menstruation taboos on-line:

self-disclosure and period-related hashtags

The goal of the research was to understand and compare user-generated and brand-generated content through period-related Instagram hashtags to identify how consumers and period product brands maintain or challenge period taboo. The research also highlights the dissonance between period brands and its consumers, suggesting brands need to better apply
social listening. 
Katherine Sredl and I have presented our research at the Consumer Culture Theory Conference in Denmark (July 2018) and the Association of Consumer Research's Gender, Marketing, and Consumer Behavior Conference in Dallas, Texas (October 2018).
I collected, coded, analyzed, and developed conclusions based off the data. Katherine was my mentor and framed the research with current marketing research methodologies and theories. 

At the Gender, Marketing, and Consumer Behavior Conference in Dallas, I had the thrilling opportunity as an undergraduate student to present research in front of advertising and marketing professionals, researchers, and professors. I received thoughtful feedback and constructive criticism that helped guide my future research. 

Katherine and I after presenting. Thank you GENMAC for organizing such a great conference and providing a great space for marketers to come together to create solutions for problems in the world and the advertising industry.

Phase 2

Gender, Taboo, and Diversity:

How  Tampon Advertising Has Evolved (1930s to Today)

After Phase 1 and analyzing modern social content, I became increasingly interested in the qualitative characteristics of the content (both visual and written) and how they relate to social and cultural norms. Thus, Phase 2 was born to understand how gender, diversity, and period taboo have been shown in tampon print and commercial advertisements since the 1930s.
I independently led this research and presented it at Loyola University Chicago's 2019 Weekend of Excellence Undergraduate Research Symposium. 

Research poster I designed and presented at Loyola University Chicago's 2019 Weekend of Excellence Undergraduate Research Symposium. 

Phase 3... Stay tuned!

Right now I'm in the midst of gaining approval and feedback from the Institutional Review Board, as mandated by FDA regulations, to begin interviewing individuals about their positive and negative experiences with periods, period products, and cultural norms surrounding periods. The goal is to understand how period products and advertising has shaped society's perceptions surrounding periods and its affects on individuals at a micro level. 

© 2018 by Emily Robertson.