Marketplace: Back-to-School Retail
This lesson printed from:
Posted May 27, 2003
Grades: 6-8, 9-12
Author: Cross-Curricular Connections
Posted: May 27, 2003
Updated: December 14, 2007
Marketplace, a daily economics news program heard on National Public Radio, featured a story on August 14, 2001 about teenagers’ retail habits during the months preceding the 2001 school year.
- Reflect on their own spending habits while recognizing that all choices involve costs and benefits.
- Identify and develop effective promotions and advertisements.
Marketplace, a daily economics news program heard on National Public Radio, featured a story on August 14, 2001 about teenagers' retail habits during the months preceding the 2001 school year.
"Retailers always salivate when teenagers need to suit up for the new school year. But as reporter Sarah Gardner found, some industry leaders think students might be getting thrifty in the slowing economy." Now we need to determine why they are making this choice.
Have the students reflect on their own "back-to-school" spending habits while recognizing that all their choices involve costs and benefits.
- What purchases did you make to get ready for going back-to-school this fall? Include supplies, clothes, electronic equipment, etc., in your examples?
- How much did each item cost?
- Where was each item purchased?
- Why was that particular item purchased? [friends had one, particular brand, impulse buy, on a list of needed supplies provided by the teacher, etc.]
- Where did the money come from to purchase these things? Could other things be purchased?
As students are collecting this information, they should enter it into a table. A table is provided for you to use. Click on this link to get it: Back to School Spending Report Chart.
Have the students listen to the Marketplace audio segment titled Back-to-School Retail , either as a whole class or in small groups. (Play from 7:38 through 10:37)
As students listen to the segment, have them answer the following questions to gather information for later analysis (students may listen to the segment several times if necessary):
- What percentage of girls say that the "number one cure for boredom" is shopping? [27%]
- Of all retail purchases, what percentage are made by teens? [31%]
- What does Teen Magazine estimate the average teen will spend on back-to-school products in 2001? [$500.00]
- What does the National Retail Federation estimate that the average household will spend on back-to-school products in 2001? [$457.00]
- What does the National Retail Federation estimate that the average household spent on back-to-school products in 2000? [$549.00]
Have the students analyze the information gathered from the Marketplace segment by answering the following questions. First, have the students reflect individually in writing for 5 minutes; then ask them to discuss their ideas in small groups. Finally, have the students from each group report their ideas to the whole class.
- According to the 2000 census, there are approximately 275,000,000 people in the United States. If 50,000,000 of those people are teenagers, what percentage of the population do teens comprise? Therefore, what percentage of shopping mall retail sales would you expect to be accounted for by teenagers? [18.5%, 18.5%]
- According to the Marketplace segment, what percentage of shopping mall retail sales do teenagers make? How might this affect retail advertising and marketing? [31%, teenagers become a primary audience of advertising and more advertising and promotions are directed at this demographic.]
- What does the change in the National Retail Federation's "average household back-to-school purchases" from the year 2000 to the year 2001 suggest about the economy or consumer perception of the economy? [Possible answers: either the economy is not as strong as the previous year or consumers are afraid that the economy is suffering.]
- What may be the cause of the discrepancy between Teen Magazine's back-to-school purchase figures and the National Retail Federation's back-to-school purchase figures? [Possible answers: the audience of Teen Magazine may be more economically stable, Teen Magazine may have an interest in suggesting that teenagers comprise more of the retail sale percentage since they would like retailers to advertise in their publication, Teen Magazine may have a larger proportion of teenage girls represented in their figures.]
After analyzing the data from the Marketplace segment, have the students reflect on their own purchasing habits, by comparing them to the national averages. Ask them:
- Were your own purchases above or below the national average according to Teen Magazine?
- Were your own purchases above or below the national average according to the National Retail Federation?
- Were your purchases more than or less than last years' purchases?
- Did advertising or promotions affect what purchases you made? If so, how?
- Did advertising or promotions affect where your purchases were made? If so, how?
In the preceding activities, students should have demonstrated an understanding of how to develop and use a budget, create an effective advertisement and recognize that all choices involve costs and benefits. To reinforce this understanding, teachers may have the students complete the activity in the Evaluation section of this lesson.
Have the students determine their monthly "salaries" (from allowances, part-time jobs, etc.). Each student should then create a budget for his or her spending in the following categories:
- utilities (phone, Internet, etc.)
- transportation (bus fare, gasoline, etc.)
- entertainment (movies, CDs, concerts, etc.)
Have the students compare their budgets and then determine the percentage of money spent in each category. Remind them that their percentages should add up to 100%.
Have the students search online and in print and television advertising to find at least one example of a promotional campaign like the ones discussed in the Marketplace segment. Students should then plan their own promotional campaign to sell one back-to-school item of their choice. As they work they should consider questions such as:
- What giveaways might attract your target market to your product?
- What type of slogan or jingle would appeal to your market?
- What media will you use to "get the word out" about your promotion?