Experimental Design Details
This research will used a mixed-methodology approach involving a brief survey followed by a randomized controlled trial. The survey will seek to answer questions about the participant’s current preferences of menstrual hygiene products, what factors they consider the most valuable in their choice of products, where they most commonly learn about menstrual hygiene products, and their current level of awareness or knowledge about the menstrual cup. The randomized controlled trial will be used to measure the effectiveness of an information intervention by examining cause-effect relationships. In the context of this study, the treatments (information interventions) for the randomized controlled trial will be as follows:
• Control (no education provided other than the menstrual cup’s main function)
• Education of private benefits of the menstrual cup (financial, convenience)
• Education of environmental benefits of the menstrual cup (waste, environmental impact)
The effects of the treatments will be measured by their influence on the participant’s willingness-to-pay for the menstrual cup. The cornerstone of randomized controlled trials is random distribution of treatments to the participants (Kendall, 2003). To adhere to these standards, after each participant has been recruited, their treatment will be selected using a random number generator software. In order to collect a reasonable and representative population from the desired demographic (young women of university age attending the University of Toronto), a sample of participants from multiple University of Toronto campuses will be recruited. The survey and randomized controlled trial will be conducted using a convenience sampling method, since this method makes use of recruiting readily and easily available participants, and this experiment will be set up at pre-determined locations across all campuses. It is typical for students to have classes consistently on the same day and in the same locations. Consequently, in order to attract as diverse of a sample population as possible, the experiment will not be set up in the same location on the same day more than once. Furthermore, in order to avoid duplication of study participants while avoiding collecting personally identifiable information, the student will be asked to provide their student email address in a separate encrypted file. This file will not be linked to the survey data or experiment results, and will only be used to screen individuals for previous participation.
The study will use an adapted version of the Becker-DeGroot-Marschak (BDM) methodology which is commonly used by behavioural economists to provide an estimate of the utility to the subject of some commodity (Becker, DeGroot, & Marschak, 1964). Under the traditional BDM method, an individual bids a price for an item, then the item’s price is randomly drawn. If the bid they provide for the item is higher than the price drawn, the individual will receive the item and pay the price they initially bid. If the bid they provide for the item is lower than the price drawn, the individual will not receive the item. For this study, instead of bidding a price for an item, the participant will be asked to choose between two different commodities based on the value they personally associate with each alternative. The two commodities in this experiment will be the menstrual cup, and Amazon gift cards with values between $5 and $40.
Participants in the study will be informed that depending on the outcomes of the experiment, they will either receive a free menstrual cup or an Amazon gift card with a value between $5 and $40. Each participant will receive an identifying number which will link their treatment type, survey responses, and experimental results. Each participant will first be asked to complete a short survey, providing their participant number at the beginning. Once the survey has been completed, the participant will receive the treatment randomly assigned to them. Following the delivery of the treatment, the participant will be asked to choose between whether they would prefer the menstrual cup, or an Amazon gift card in increasing increments. The following increments will be provided:
• Menstrual cup or $5 gift card
• Menstrual cup or $10 gift card
• Menstrual cup or $15 gift card
• Menstrual cup or $20 gift card
• Menstrual cup or $30 gift card
• Menstrual cup or $40 gift card
The participant will be asked to choose between the two commodities in increasing increments of gift card values until they respond that they would prefer the Amazon gift card over the menstrual cup. This gift card value will be recorded as the participant’s ‘cut-off point’, and the previous highest gift card value will be used as an estimation of the participant’s maximum utility (or willingness-to-pay) of the menstrual cup. After this number has been recorded, the researcher will randomly draw a number from a bag containing each of the possible Amazon gift card values (as listed above). If the number drawn is equal to or exceeds the participant’s ‘cut-off point’, they will receive a gift card containing the drawn amount. If the number drawn is lower than the participant’s ‘cut-off point’, they will receive the menstrual cup. For participants who receive the menstrual cup, they will then be asked how likely they are to use the product or at least try it, given the options of ‘unlikely’, ‘somewhat likely’, or ‘very likely’.
Randomized Controlled Trial Data
In the context of this study, the dependent variable is participant’s willingness-to-pay and the independent variables are the informational interventions (no information provided, P=information on private benefits provided, E=information on environmental benefits provided).
The null hypothesis (H0) for this experiment is that there are no significant differences in the mean willingness-to-pay of participants between treatment groups. The alternate hypothesis (Ha) is that there is a significant difference in the mean willingness-to-pay of participants between treatment groups. The data collected in this experiment will be analyzed using comparisons of treatments versus a control.