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Leah WatkinsLeah Watkins

Ever wondered what effect television advertising might be having on young kids?

Or how culture influences our travel behaviour?

Or whether the products you buy are really sustainable?

Leah Watkins has, but unlike most of us, she does something about it.

Leah looks at life and sees there is important research to be done into the role that marketing plays in many aspects of society.

After an Otago BA in Japanese, Leah spent several years working and travelling in Japan and Europe. She returned to Otago for a Postgraduate Diploma in Japanese and a Diploma for Graduates in Marketing.

On joining the Department of Marketing, she was able to draw on her specialist knowledge to contribute to new research into Japanese tourism in New Zealand.

Her culture and language background led her to realise that some of the survey methods used to measure values across cultures were flawed because of cultural inappropriateness.

This led to a PhD shedding useful new light on the links between culture, values and consumption behaviour.

Leah has also worked on ethical consumption, looking at the difficulty people have in processing information on packaging, particularly sustainability labelling.

The ideal would be to come up with a simple way for consumers to understand just how sustainable products might be —something similar to the Heart Foundation tick.

Currently Leah is investigating how young children are affected by advertising.

“There’s little research on the implications of very young children being targeted as consumers. For the first time we are seeing television programming and advertising directed at under-fives, so we’ll be looking at pre-schoolers’ TV viewing and advertising exposure and a child’s developing brand knowledge and materialistic orientation.”