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Letter of Intent of Classified Ads

            Following the announcement by the newly created classified advertisements Writers Association of America (CAWAA) that they have established a competitive “Classified ads Research fund” I feel privileged and honored to submit this letter of intent.

            The high rates of use of beauty pills in the US are a cause for concern, especially because they may not only have serious side effects on the users, but their quality may decline as manufacturers seek to meet their high demand.

Below is a description of my study proposal regarding the use of classified ads in promoting beauty enhancing drugs. The proposal provides an overview on the use of beauty pills and some of their side effects in the US. It also provides a proposed study design on how classified ads will be used to provide vital information on the use of the pills amongst men and women.

Socially desirable physical appearance: the use of beauty pills

Over the last few years there has been a massive increase in the use of beauty pills which are purported to “instantly and positively” improve one’s physical appearance. This has not escaped the notice of the department of public health as it is responsible for authenticating medicinal innovations. . Because of the lack of understanding by the general public on the advantages and disadvantages of using beauty pills, there is a tendency towards abuse of these products. It is important that the blind, chronic use of these pills be discouraged, especially to the women fraternity who are presumably the largest abusers of these pills. This is especially so because inappropriate use of these products have many undesirable side effects, such as interference with the normal functioning of kidney and liver (Coleman, C,2007). Results from this study will provide information on not only the rate of beauty product abuse between men and women, but also the effects of classified ads on the rate of use of the products.

Hypothesis

            Due to the complicated nature of the use of appearance enhancement drugs (beauty pills) in the recent days, many other arguments have been put forth as to why their use is on the increase. However, this study shall limit itself to the role of classified ads on the use of appearance enhancement drugs in both men and women. From general observations, it appears that the use of appearance enhancement is more common in women that in men. This observation is further manifested by the tendency of classified ads to target women audience more than men audience, a fact that probably has its root on a more ready market for these products from women than men. This may predispose women to higher rates of abuse of these products than men. Based on these observations, I hypothesize that: Women are the major abusers/users of beauty pills as compared to men in U.S.

Variables of interest

From the hypotheses, two variables can be derived: (1) gender and (2) the rate of use of the drugs.  Because the assumption is that gender has an influence on the rate of use of beauty pills, it is the independent variable. Gender is not affected by the rate of use of the pills. On the other hand, the dependent variable is the rate of substance use, as it depends on gender.

Conceptualization of the variables

            The dependent variable (rate of use of beauty pills) is defined as the intensity of purchase of medicinal tablets, syrups or even dietary prescriptions given by pharmacists to willing customers with the main aim of using them to bring quick and “positive” physical changes on them. On the other hand, the independent variable is the sex of the individual respondents (either male or female).

Operationalization of the variables

            To minimize ambiguity and allow for measurement, the variables have been operationalised as follows. Firstly, gender is a two-category nominal variable with “male” and “female” as the categories. For this variable (independent), this paper will major on the number of classified ads that advertises men products compared to those targeting women products. The assumption here is that the number of classified ads targeting a certain gender reflects the demand for those products by that gender.  I will use ratio calculation method by literally counting the number of responsive words, phrases and sentences on either men or women products on classified ads by various newspapers. Additionally, the proportion of space dedicated to women ads compared to men’s will be compared.

            Secondly, for the dependent variable, the actual rate of use of beauty pills will be derived by sampling an equal number of men and women randomly by means of a structured questionnaire. Respondents will be asked to provide information on whether they use any beauty pills, where they buy the pills, whether they consider classified ads as a reliable source of information for purchase of beauty products amongst other relevant questions. From the questionnaires, various measurements can be derived, and various statistics performed. These include means (e.g. mean number of both men and women who admitted to use classified ads as the source of information for purchasing beauty products); Analyses of Variance (to compare whether there are any significant differences in means, say between the categories of beauty pills) etc.  Additionally, assuming that the rate of advertisement reflects the demand for certain products, classified ads will be studied as to which among tablets, liquid or injected types of beauty pills are most used and by which sex – women or men. This will be facilitated by counting on the number of words that each particular attribute of the pills and gender gets in the respective classified ads. The response will be used to code the variables in relation to the overall beauty pills and other related cosmetics classified ads.

Proposed Codebook

            The codebook presented in this paper is subject to change depending on the issues arising from the variables. For the purposes of this paper, a draft codebook is presented that enumerates only the variables emerging at this stage.

Table 1: Draft Codebook

Variable 1: Gender
Code
Age
15-29
A1

30-39
A2

40-49
A3

50-59
A4

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Over 60
A5
Gender
Male
1

Female
2
Variable 2: Rate of Beauty pill use
Code

Use of beauty pills
Yes
U1

No
U2
Use of classified ads for purchase of pills
Yes
C1

No
C2
Types of beauty pills used
Tablet
T1

Injection
T2
Does price affect the type of products used
Yes
P1

No
P2
Side effects of products
Yes
S1

No
S2

Conclusions

            Classified ads have the potential to reveal trends in use of various products and their popularity. Beauty pills are widely featured in classified ads and the potential to generate vital information from them is vast. This study will exploit the widely available data from the ads. To improve the quality of the data, the research will sample beauty-pill related classified ads from all major newspapers in circulation. Coupled with ground surveys and other marketing avenues for secondary data, I believe the study will not only come up with essential results in the area of cosmetics, but also reveal potential avenues for future research.

References:

Classified ads, available at;

New York Times, accessed on 28 September 2008, accessed on October 3, 2008.

Coleman, C (2007). Pretty pills: The dark side of the latest underground beauty trend. Retrieved October, 11 2008 from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-454585/Pretty-pills-The-dark-latest-underground-beauty-trend.html
The Academic Server. (2008). Character Demographics Analysis Codebook. Retrieved October 112007 from http://academic.csuohio.edu/kneuendorf/content/hcoding/democb.htm

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