Consumer wise in advertising and marketing

In this third part of learning to be consumer savvy, we’ll look for opportunities to improve shopping skills and learn how advertising is a big influence.

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 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.

Advertising a product, whether it be a piece of clothing, sports equipment, media software or other type of technology, influences the buyer on whether or not they will purchase their product. According to Global Issues, teens in the U.S. spend around $160 billion a year. An effective marketing campaign means income for the company. Children recognize brand logos as young as 3 years old.

To help youth realize the impact of advertising, the “Media and Marketplace” activity listed in the Consumer Savvy curriculum suggests watching a half-hour television show aimed at young people and have the youth keep track of the commercials. Have them make a list identifying:

  • 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, excitement our “heart strings” and other techniques to increase the demand for the products they sell.

Don’t be fooled! Advertisements are a big influence in what we buy. As youth become teens, buying the off-brand pair of shoes can make you 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.

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. For more information, please visit the 4-H Youth Money Management website on the MSU Extension website.

Michigan State University 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. Read more in the 2017 Impact Reports.

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