Choices and challenges: Consumer Savvy curriculum helps youth be more aware about advertising and marketing

In this second part of being consumer savvy, learn about the influence of advertising.

Kid shopping for shoes

Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development programs offer educational curriculum to help youth focus on being good shoppers. One of the suggested curriculums used to share and teach youth about being consumer conscious is Consumer Savvy from the National 4-H curriculum. This digitally downloadable curriculum includes three levels along with a helper’s guide that allows youth to practice making purchasing decisions, learn critical thinking skills and become self-responsible.

Teens in the U.S. spend billions each year. An effective marketing campaign means income for the company. Advertising a product, whether it is a piece of clothing, sports equipment, media software or other type of technology, influences the buyer on whether they will purchase their product.

To help youth realize the impact of advertising, the “Media and Marketplace” activity listed in the Consumer Savvy curriculum suggests having youth watch a half-hour television show aimed at young people and track information presented in the commercials. It poses questions that has youth identifying key marketing techniques such as:

  • What were they selling?
  • Who was the targeted audience?
  • What was the setting?
  • Who was in the commercial?
  • Did the commercial show or challenge stereotypes?
  • What advertising techniques were used?

Discussing these questions with young people can help them become aware of how advertisers use music, celebrities, excite our “heart strings” and other techniques to increase the demand for the products they sell.

Advertisements are a big influence in what we buy. As youth become teens, buying the off-brand pair of shoes can make them feel unimportant and unpopular. Youth who have part-time jobs or money from allowances listen to commercials, look at what others are buying and want to have the best. We need to help our youth make good decisions on purchasing, use our critical thinking skills, and understand what advertisements can do to our thought process. Using this curriculum can help youth make better decisions and become consumer savvy.

The 4-H youth programs are offered in the money management area to help youth learn needs and wants, to set goals, and to help with decision making skills when purchasing items. Become a savvy consumer and learn ways to save money, buy what is only needed and have fun shopping knowing that you have made good choices.

MSU Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development help to prepare young people for successful futures. As a result of career exploration and workforce preparation activities, thousands of Michigan youth are better equipped to make important decisions about their professional future, ready to contribute to the workforce and able to take fiscal responsibility in their personal lives. For more information or resources on career exploration, workforce preparation, financial education, or entrepreneurship, contact

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