From the 23th to the 29th of March, we taught two Mihai Eminescu highschool classes about Consumer awareness. This workshop might seem a bit far from our usual topic of education. Remember, our main goal is to exchange with students about their digital citizenship and behaviors. So, why are we talking about consumption, marketing and online shopping?
Nowadays, online marketing uses influencers and advertising on social media to reach young people. In fact, they are confronted with it everyday, so we wanted to give them all the tools to identify ads and be responsible as a consumer.
Identifying marketing strategies
When it begins, we break the ice by playing a game with the class, as usual. In the last workshop’s feedback sheets, students told us that they like music games. Therefore, we make them guess nine popular songs. That way, we want them to notice how catchy those songs are and how commercials can use them to easily catch our attention. Many highschoolers recognized those songs quickly, even though some of them tried tricked us by using Shazam ?
After that, our volunteer Lisa divides the class into two or four groups. It depends on the number of students. Before anything, she explains to them the difference between physical and online marketing. For our first activity, she displays two sponsored posts from Instagram influencers. One is a well-known Romanian female influencer wearing a swim-suit, the other one is a child being amazed by a toy in a toy store. Then, the groups have to answer some questions regarding one of those posts:
- What marketing techniques does the company use to sell the product?
- What makes this advertising attractive?
- Would you buy this product?
- What law/rules would you create to improve online marketing?
Consumers have rights…
By analyzing that, they managed to identify the different strategies of online marketing, especially through social media. Also, they expressed their need to access more information about the sponsorship, something that some of them would make mandatory in the future.
Indeed, access to transparent information regarding a product is one of the consumer rights facing online shopping. Among others, there is also the right to have choice between products, the right for redress (refund or compensation if there’s any problem) and the right to safe shopping.
For this last one, Ibrahim takes time to exchange with them about cybersecurity. More precisely, about how to avoid scams and unsecured websites. For example, to verify if the site has “https” in its internet address, so that no one can intercept their banking information. Actually, the highschoolers were mostly aware of those security risks!
… And responsibilities!
Lastly, for our second activity, Théo invites them to play a role-play game to put themselves in the shoes of online marketing actors. To sum up, each group is divided in half. One part plays the “influencers”, one part plays the “consumers”. Both have a cardboard card with a precise situation and goal:
- Influencers are given a product to sell, but also a negative aspect of it. They must prepare a speech to convince the consumers to buy it and win candies. Although they can avoid mentioning this negative detail, they have to be honest if they’re asked about it.
- Consumers are given some personal values they have to respect while shopping. They can ask as many questions as they want to the influencers about the product. In the end, they decide if they buy the product or not.
By playing this game, we want the students to understand which marketing strategies can be used on them. However, we also want them to be used to asking themselves questions before buying if they want to respect their values. Either it’s ecology, animal testing, or the brand workers’ human rights. It’s their responsibility.
The highschoolers we were with really like this role-play game! Some even played the game like real comedians! And in the end, because we’re not monsters, we gave candies to all of them regardless of their ability to sell ? After all, this is still a game!
Location: Mihai Eminescu high school, Constanța, Romania
Dates: 23th and 29th of March, 2022