Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Earn Your Way into Children’s Minds

Within days of the protests getting mobilized, the retailer withdrew this week.
     The retailer is Scholastic Inc. The protests were initiated by Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Rethinking Schools, and Friends of the Earth. The impetus was a set of fourth-grade school lesson plans titled “United States of Energy,” designed for profit in collaboration with an industry-sponsored nonprofit, the American Coal Foundation, and then distributed to educators.
     The protesting groups were saying it is evil to buy your way into children’s hearts. Scholastic might see the “United States of Energy” in a different way. Still, I believe all would agree the best alternative is to earn your way into children’s minds.
     As a retailer, work with educators to propagate your messages, but be sure the parents know what you’re doing. One tactic for accomplishing this is to—in consultation with educators from your community—develop and distribute worksheets to build consumer skills at different age ranges. University of Minnesota research findings suggest this:
  • Ages 3 to 6. These children are learning to classify products. For the younger children, it’s by size and color, which lets the child select the right product to assist in shopping and meal preparation. For children closer to age 6, the classification is by function. This helps the child accept a substitute product when a desired one isn’t available. Worksheets could show pictures of products in your store and ask the child to draw lines between ones that are similar.
  • Ages 7 to 11. Around age 7, children’s consumer skills blossom. They become better at recognizing benefits made possible by product features, moving beyond a focus on the features themselves. Their understanding increases for the correlation between money and value. They gain a greater ability to compare products and to do it on more than one dimension (such as ease of use and duration of use) at the same time. Worksheets could present a task that products in your store could be used to accomplish and then ask the child to select which of the pictured items would be the best set and write why.
  • Ages 12 to 16. Consumer skills to develop for this age range include an appreciation of multiple perspectives. Worksheet themes might include asking the future adult shopper to propose return/exchange policies and pricing structures which take account of the interests of both the customer and the retailer.
Click below for more:
Distribute Worksheets for Children
Give Elementary Schools Volunteer Time

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