Kids in the Marketplace Teens in the Marketplace

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					                                                                                                                          Revision Date: 9/8/2004
                                                                                                                          Maria Pippidis

                                               Kids in the Marketplace
                                              Teens in the Marketplace

    Ask a teen to name a couple of                                                            growing up and have planned products
    shampoos on the market, he or she will                                                    and marketing strategies to attract
    probably list a half a dozen name                                                         teens. Their aim is to get kids to buy
    brands. But ask a teen which one he                                                       more.
    would purchase and the answer will
    likely be, “which ever is cheapest.” Many                                                 When You Don’t Agree
    teens know that most shampoos work
    the same way and, more importantly, no                                                    Parents need to plan strategies to help
    one will ever know which shampoo they                                                     their teenager through the teen years.
    used! On the other hand, this teen may                                                    This means finding ways to build strong
    be wearing the most expensive                                                             money management skills and giving
    sneakers the store offers. How can                                                        opportunities to practice marketplace
    teens be such practical consumers in                                                      and independent living skills. Parent-
    one purchase and not in another. There                                                    teen tensions often explode and seem
    really is a certain logic to this madness:                                                to undermine past training. How can you
    teen logic.                                                                               avoid getting caught in the crossfire?
                                                                                              First resign yourself to conflict and learn
    Understanding teen consumer logic and                                                     to pick your timing. Don’t be afraid to
    training your teen to be a savvy                                                          assert yourself as the adult in important
    consumer can be a balancing act for                                                       situations. Teens may protest, but they
    parents. Teens look like adults, but not                                                  need the stability and consistent
    all their emotional, mental, social and                                                   behavior of adults as a reference point.
    physical capabilities are fully developed.
    Rapid changes in their bodies make                                                        There are four basic conflict themes that
    them sensitive to their appearance.                                                       affect teen emotions, social relations,
    Product choices and how they spend                                                        and marketplace and money
    personal money are external things in                                                     management decisions. The first is the
    their control and they like to experiment                                                 need for independence and self-
    with this control. The importance of                                                      sufficiency counterbalanced by the
    image, friends, and acceptance create a                                                   strong desire to belong. This behavior
    conflict between marketplace best buy                                                     evidences itself in parents becoming
    practices and buying an image. Change                                                     “stupid” overnight and the desire to
    and conflict are dominant themes during                                                   break away from family influences. The
    the teen years. Advertisers marketing to                                                  flip side of independence is a strong
    teens have been quick to recognize the                                                    attachment to friends and a social
    changes and conflicts teens face                                                          network.

    The independence from family often                                                        is against adults, established and
    accelerates into a second area of                                                         expected behaviors, and contrasts
    conflict, that of rebellion. This rebellion                                               sharply with the need to conform to peer
It is the policy of the Delaware Cooperative Extension System that no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex, disability, age, or national origin.
 expectations. Teens are more able to
 understand abstract ideas and examine             A third type of conflict emerges as teens
 more closely the interactions of adult            develop an idealism not matched by the
 society and the environment. They are             real world. They are often upset by adult
 thinking through values and concepts              behavior and practices that are
 you have taught them. They may seem               insincere and hypocritical.
 to do the opposite of what you have
 taught them. This is because they are             A last type of conflict occurs between
 exploring how the value affects them              their own self-absorption and a
 and if it is one they want to believe in.         developing maturity to be considerate
 They want to know what happens if they            and thoughtful of others. You may find
 don’t hold that value or practice that            your generous, thoughtful thirteen year
 concept. Are the consequences what                old suddenly can only think of his
 you warned they would be?                         appearance and of the number of
 pimples on his face or the impact of his          adult, the teachable moment is here for
 new CD on friends (never mind that the            many types of consumer experiences:
 sound can be heard outside the city               automobile purchases, insurance, food
 limits).                                          shopping, credit, apartments, and
                                                   telephone service. Teens will soon be
 What’s An Adult To Do?                            on their own as new adults, so now’s a
                                                   good time to review the list of skills they
 How do you maneuver through this                  will need for independent living. These
 maze? Use money and shopping                      skills include: making and sticking to a
 discussions to communicate with your              budget, saving, credit use, shopping
 teen as an adult. In younger years, your          strategies to get value for dollars and
 kids liked to hear your advice, now you           time invested, where to find product
 need to listen to them. Give advice only          information, and how to solve consumer
 when asked for, and then sparingly.               problems. How does your teen rate?
 Because they want to be treated as an

                                 WHERE IS YOUR TEEN NOW?

                                we’ve        discussed   understands       does      does most of the
                                never                     but doesn’t    some of          time
                              discussed                    practice      the time
Budgets allowance & job
Setting goals
Achieving goals
Shopping strategies
Product information sources
Product problem resolution

Encourage your teen to set both short-       this concept is still true. Real friends,
term and long-term goals. Teens have         real love, real value (contrary to
the capacity for the abstract and can        TV,internet and magazine ads) aren’t
defer satisfaction if the goal is            based on the car they drive of the
compelling enough. Short-term goals          clothes they wear. The market place has
might be to save for a concert or a          realized that teens have spending power
school trip. Longer-term goals might be      and has targeted them with all kinds of
saving for an automobile (and enough         implicit and explicit messages. Kids are
insurance for a year), college or            continually bombarded with ideas and
technical school, or a special trio. Be      thoughts which conflict with the values
sure to talk about banking information       and attitudes you have tried to teach. It
including how to use a checkbook,            has never been more important that you
different savings and investment             are consistent in what you say and what
options, the meaning and value of            you practice.
annual percentage rates and types of
                                             Shopping skills you want to encourage
Teens are able to approach problems          are comparison shopping and brand
systematically and reason through            evaluation. Listen when your teen talks
alternative solutions. You will want to      about brand names and look for
reinforce the decision making process        opportunities to have a discussion about
and encourage comparison-shopping            the difference between generic and
and negotiation in the marketplace. Any      name brands. Name brand advertising
person who has this process clear in         implies social acceptance and a certain
their mind can negotiate even the            status. Teens are especially vulnerable
toughest consumer decisions. You may         to image advertising because of their
want to help your teen set personal          need for peer recognition. This should
limits that will help them achieve their     be an adult to adult conversation. A
goals. One limit might be to never make      good conversation about how money
an unplanned purchase of more than           saved in one purchase means extra
$50 unless they think about it for a day.    dollars to achieve another goal can give
                                             motivation to resist an impulse purchase
    THE DECISION MAKING PROCESS              or an expensive brand purchase.

1. Identify the need or problem.             Food Buying
2. Search for solutions and alternatives.
3. Evaluate available alternatives to find   Food shopping is a great way to
   the best solution.                        emphasize the difference in costs
4. Choice- make a decision.                  between stores. In 2000, teens spent
5. Evaluate choice- did I make a good        $10.4 billion on food and snacks for
   choice? How could I have improved?        themselves. In addition, A Teenage
                                             Research Unlimited Survey revealed
                                             about 9 out of 10 teenagers shopped for
In The Marketplace                           themselves or their families and spent
                                             $47.7 billion on groceries and household
One of the first concepts that               products. In almost 70% of the homes
preschoolers need to learn is that           where both parents- or single parent-
money is a medium of exchange. It            work, teens did much of the grocery
doesn’t buy love, self-worth, importance,    shopping. This important family task can
or real riches. Remind your teen that        give your teen adult status and save you

time too. But it will cost your family      features. Credit contracts and insurance
dollars and your teen consumer skills if    coverage will give new meaning to,
you don’t spend some time teaching          “Read and understand everything
some basic principles. Comparison           BEFORE you sign.” A nationwide high
shopping store ads and collecting           school student consumer knowledge
coupons that match the grocery list are     test found that almost half (47%)
a couple of skills your teen should know.   understood what a “sticker price” on an
If your teen is shopping the local          auto meant and only 35% knew what a
convenience of corner store, it’s costing   car warranty would cover. Almost fifty
you money and teaching your teen            percent knew what liability coverage and
expensive habits. The difference in the     comprehensive coverage meant, but
grocery bill could be as much as one-       only 29% understood the significance of
third the total bill…that’s $33 for every   bodily limits.
$99 spent. Let your teen prepare the
grocery list and do the shopping, but       Even if your teen does not own her own
volunteer to drive them to the store with   car, she will surely want to put a few
the best values. Give your teen an          miles on yours. Set limits and require
expenditure limit and let him make up       gas reimbursement, maybe include oil
the grocery list. This includes coupon      change and windshield washer fluids.
clipping and organizing. Nutrition and      Always expect and demand courtesy in
ingredient labels, unit pricing, generic    car usage including not leaving the car
and name brand cents off coupon             for someone else to drive on fumes. Not
evaluation, and store choices are all       only might you expect your teen to
opportunities to build on existing          contribute to family auto insurance
consumer skills. Maybe offer to let him     costs, but also repairs depending on the
keep the difference between the set         extent of use and income from part-time
budget and actual expenditure.              jobs. Responsibility in product use is as
Cooperative Extension has many food         important as product search and
buying and nutrition resources. Call your   purchase.
local Cooperative Extension office and
ask for a list. Resist the temptation to    Housing
complain when he doesn’t buy your
favorite brand of pickles. He’ll probably   Involve your teen in family discussions
tell you they weren’t on sale!              concerning mortgage rates, taxes, rental
                                            costs, landlord-tenant responsibilities,
Auto Buying                                 and utility expenses. The telephone may
                                            seem like another body part of your
Most teens dream of their own               teen, but look upon it as a chance to
automobile and the freedom it brings.       help your teen understand the real costs
This goal can be so intense, that you       of housekeeping. Make your teen
have leverage to teach all kinds of         responsible for his/ her own long
consumer skills. Purchasing a used car      distance calls. If conflict over telephone
opens the opportunity for teens to          usage becomes intense, suggest your
practice goal setting and setting an        teen pay for a second telephone line in
automobile budget. The search for           his/ her own name. While expecting
information ought to include viewing and    your teen to pay so many family
driving a car within the set budget,        expenses may seem cruel and unkind
estimate of routine maintenance and         (after all you are the parent) you’re
gas costs, credit and loan applications,    really preparing them for adulthood.
warranties and service contracts, fuel      When kids have a high discretionary
economy and other important car             income, especially from part-time jobs,

they can easily learn shopping and           no formula for helping your kids through
spending patterns that are beyond their      these years, but here are some rules of
ability to maintain once they are on their   thumb that can help:
own. An understanding of true living
costs will make it easier for them to          1. Be flexible; remember this is a kid
develop good money management                     trying to become an adult. It takes
habits. Be careful not to bail them out           practice. Allow for mistakes and
financially in situations of their own            errors. Remember the mistakes
making. Help them to identify alternative         you made? Share them.
solutions to the situation they are in but
let them be responsible for resolving the      2. Be honest. Teens are idealistic
situation. This is a time to reinforce            and set high standards. This
consequences of decision making and               requires constant principled
confirm the value of thinking before              behavior form adults. Adults aren’t
acting.                                           perfect, be honest and admit your
                                                  poor habits and failures to your
Banking and Investments                           kids. Encourage them to do
Banking and credit are two tools that          3. Listen when they want to talk. Try
help us manage our family finances.               not to give advice, but help them
The more your teen understands about              work out solutions when they ask.
banks, other lending institutions,                Sometimes only experience
comparison shopping for credit, and               teaches.
loan options, the better chance they
have of managing successfully. This can        4. Communicate clearly. While you
mean practicing with their own                    want to listen and be empathetic
checkbook, balancing bank statements,             to your teen, if there are
and watching their savings grow. Take             household rules that must be
time to show your teen your checkbook             obeyed, be clear about it. And
and how you manage it. If your teen is            enforce them with consequences
considering financing a used car,                 for disobedience. Your teen still
encourage him/ her to make an                     needs you to say, “no,” and be
appointment with the bank loan officer to         consistent.
talk about it. Savings options are
important also. Discussions about news         5. Be supportive. Your teen is
articles on the economy, stocks and               practicing independence, but still
bonds, investment ads, and other bank             need to know that his parents take
services will help your teen understand           pride in him and love him. Family
the wide variety of choices they have for         is the support base from which
investment.                                       teens can explore and

In Conclusion                                Encourage your teen to ask questions.
                                             Help them to frame the questions so
Teens enjoy adult conversations,             they can get the answers they need to
especially when their friends are not        make good decisions. These questions
around. Use this time to reinforce and       can be about characteristics of products
praise consumer skills. Even when your       and services, about why they want to
teen says, “I can do it myself, I don’t      buy, about how a product works, about
need you,” he really means “let me try it    price, quality and value. Help them to
and make my own mistakes.” There is          think about how much of their income

ought to be saved, what ought to be
given to church and charity, what is
necessary for basic living expenses.
This may mean you will have to change
how you make decisions so they will
have a good role model. They can learn
good habits from hearing you ask the
salesperson questions, from seeing you
write a company when you are
dissatisfied with a product…from you
practicing those same consumer skills
you hope your teen learns.

                                 BENCHMARKING YOUR TEEN

Goals are dreams and plans for how you want to spend your resources. They are especially
useful when you have very limited time, energy, and money. Goals help you not overspend in the
marketplace when you see something you think you want. If you know your goals, you can make
good decisions and trade offs so that you get the most satisfaction from your choices. Goals have
a way of changing as we learn more about ourselves and what we want from life. Do a goal check
regularly to see if yours have changed.

                                        Short-Term Goals
List your plans for the near future, today, tomorrow, next week, the summer.
1. ______________________________________________________________________
2. ______________________________________________________________________
3. ______________________________________________________________________
4. ______________________________________________________________________
5. ______________________________________________________________________

                                         Long-Term Goals
List your plans for the future as far as you can think, next year, three years. Saving for education
beyond high school would be an example of long-term goal or saving up to buy an automobile.
1. ______________________________________________________________________
2. ______________________________________________________________________
3. ______________________________________________________________________
4. ______________________________________________________________________
5. ______________________________________________________________________

Whenever you pull out your wallet to spend a dollar, ask yourself if this expenditure will help you
achieve your goals. If it doesn’t, maybe spending isn’t what you want to do or maybe you need to
change your goal. Short-term fun may cost you a long-term goal.

                                 BENCHMARKING YOUR TEEN

                                        Financial Planning
Do you want to know how your teen’s financial concepts and skills are developing? Have your
teen complete this questionnaire. Then talk with them about areas they’d like to improve. (You
might want to take it first to see how you rate, too. You can help each other improve.)

On a 1 to 5 scale, 1 being not at all, 2 occasionally, 3 many times, 4 most of the time, and 5
always mark how these statements reflect your behavior.
                                                                         1      2     3    4     5
1. I have financial goals.
2. I have certain weekly expenses for which I am responsible.
3. I set aside money now for the future.
4. I pay fixed expenses first. (car payments, gas, lunch, loan, etc)
5. I have a filing system for my bills and wage receipts.
6. I plan how I spend my money.
7. I regularly check to be sure my income is meeting my
8. I know where my money goes.
9. If my budget seems unrealistic I change it.
10. I save for long-term financial goals.
11. If I cannot meet expenses, I reduce the amount I spend.
12. If I cannot meet expenses, I would consider ways of increasing
my income.
13. I save all my wage and purchase receipts.
14. If it is appropriate, I seek information before making decisions
    concerning my money.
15. I feel I can talk about my financial decisions with others in my
16. My parents/ guardians let me help in the family’s financial
decision making.
17. My parents/ guardians talk about financial decisions in front of
18. I ask my parents/ guardians for advice in my financial decision
19. When I have credit obligations (credit cards/ loans) I pay the bill
    before it is due.
20. I routinely put money away in a savings account.
21. If I have a checking account, I immediately record deposits and
    withdrawals in my checkbook.
22. I balance my checkbook regularly.
Answers in the 4 and 5 range are great, 1 and 2 means you have some work ahead.

*Based on a thesis by Maria R. Pippidis, “Family Influence on the Acquisition of Teen Financial
Management Behaviors- A Preliminary Study Using Socialization Theory,” 1989 Cornell

                                  BENCHMARKING YOUR TEEN

                                       Consumer Concepts

Do you want to know your teen’s marketplace concepts and buymanship are developing? Ask
him/ her to answer the questions below. Then talk about what he/she thinks he/ she does really
well and what areas ought to be improved. (You might want to answer the questions first to see
what role model you’re setting.)

On a scale of 1 to 5, mark the number that best describes your actions in the marketplace. A 1
means never, 2 occasionally, 3 many times, 4 most of the time, and 5 always.

                                                                             1   2    3    4       5
 1. I keep my budget in mind when I shop.
 2. I use coupons when I shop.
 3. I use the store ad flyers to comparison shop stores.
 4. I shop for bargains, things with good price and quality to give me
 5. I comparison shop for expensive items.
 6. I comparison shop for inexpensive items.
 7. I buy brand name items.
 8. I mail in rebate certificates.
 9. I buy items on impulse.
10. I spend whatever cash I have in my pocket.
11. I gather information about expensive products and services before
12. For expensive items I consult my parent/ guardian.
13. I make a list before I go shopping.
14. I make purchasing decisions on my own.
15. If I’m unhappy with a product I buy, I try to think about what I could
do differently next time.
16. I know where to go to complain about a product.
17. I save up for a specific item before I purchase it.
18. I spend money on what I need first, then decide if I have things
          left over for what I want.
19. I spend my money on me.
20. I like to spend some of my money on others.
22. I talk to my parent/ guardian about many of my purchases before I

You have a good beginning handle on marketplace concepts if you answered 4 or 5 on all but the
following: #7 should be 1 or 2 (brands can be very costly for less value); #9 and #10 should be 1
or 2 (impulse shopping blows your money and your goals); and #19 and #20 are value

**Based on a thesis by Maria R. Pippidis, “Family Influence on the Acquisition of Teen Financial
Management Behaviors- A Preliminary Study Using Socialization Theory,” 1989 Cornell

                                    BENCHMARKING YOUR TEEN
Use this sheet to set up an income and spending plan for the week. A plan will help you meet the
goals you set for yourself. It’s really easy to impulse spend when you not clear about your goals.
Use the goal setting sheet before you set up a spending plan.

EARNINGS PLAN for the month of __________________
INCOME                                  Week 1      Week 2       Week 3      Week 4       Week 5
Allowance                              ______      ______       ______      ______       ______
Job                                    ______      ______       ______      ______       ______
                                       ______      ______       ______      ______       ______
                                       ______      ______       ______      ______       ______
                                       ______      ______       ______      ______       ______
Total Weekly                           ______      ______       ______      ______       ______
Total Monthly ________________
*You might want to note difference between income you are sure of and expected income. I.e.
you usually mow the neighbor’s lawn weekly. This is expected, but you might skip a week due to
drought or you usually babysit every Friday night, but it could be cancelled- no work, no pay.)

EXPENSES for the month of__________________
INCOME                            Week 1    Week 2               Week 3      Week 4       Week 5
Savings                                 ______       ______      ______      ______       ______
Charity/ Church                         ______       ______      ______      ______       ______
Gas                                     ______       ______      ______      ______       ______
Telephone                               ______       ______      ______      ______       ______
Automobile                              ______       ______      ______      ______       ______
                                        ______       ______      ______      ______       ______
                                        ______       ______      ______      ______       ______
                                        ______       ______      ______      ______       ______
                                        ______       ______      ______      ______       ______
                                        ______       ______      ______      ______       ______
Committed Total _________________
Food (snacks, etc.)                     ______       ______      ______      ______       ______
Recreation                              ______       ______      ______      ______       ______
Clothes                                 ______       ______      ______      ______       ______
Personal Items                          ______       ______      ______      ______       ______
Gifts                                   ______       ______      ______      ______       ______
                                        ______       ______      ______      ______       ______
                                        ______       ______      ______      ______       ______
                                        ______       ______      ______      ______       ______
                                        ______       ______      ______      ______       ______
Flexible Total ____________________
Weekly Totals                       ______           ______      ______      ______       ______
Committed Monthly Total    _____
Flexible Monthly Total     _____
Expense Total              _____
INCOME                       _____
COMMITTED                    _____
Balance left for Flexible    _____
If total expenses exceed total income you have several options: 1) cut back your expenses, 2)
find ways to earn more money or 3) both, cut back and look for ways to earn more money.

                Endnotes                                    Additional Resources

1. Ju Nu Bryan Kim, “For Savvy                    Stephen F. Hamilton “Adolescent”
   Teens: Real Life Solutions,” Advertising           available from Cornell Cooperative
   Age. Aug 23, 1993 p.3-4.                           Extension, Media Services Educational
2   Minnesota EFNEP Vol. 3, No. 1, March              resource center, 7-8 Business &
   1991.                                              Technology Park, Cornell University,
3. “High School Student Consumer                      Ithaca, NY.
   Knowledge” Consumer Federation of              “Money Wars” Zillions magazine,
   America and American Express, Sept                 Consumers Union Feb. 93, p. 25-27.
   1991.                                          Janet Bodnar Money Smart Kids,
4. “Teen in the Kitchen” Food Industry                Kiplinger’s Books, Washington, DC.
   News, September 1997.                              1993.
5. Barbara White-Sax, “With Time and              Teenage Consumers “Teaching Your
   Money, Teens Represent a Sought After              Children How to Save and Spend”, free
   Market.” Drug Store News, 6/25/2001,               SASE Consumer Federation of America,
   Vol. 23, Issue 8, p. 68.                           1424 16th St., NW, Suite 604,
                                                      Washington D.C., 20036.

Written by Lois Wright Morton, Department of Consumer Economics and Housing, New York
State College of Human Ecology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.

Updated by Maria Pippidis, Family & Consumer Science Educator, University of Delaware. April


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