With Christmas right around the corner, retailers everywhere are cashing in on sales with their holiday promotions. Your school store's promotions during the holiday have just as much potential as any other store to meet consumers' needs. The school store, however, differs in one BIG WAY. What is special is your store's ability to educate its workers and customers. Use the holiday promotions to teach your students lifelong lessons related to economics.
How will your school store's holiday promotions attract a consumer to a product? Savvy businesses know how to drive sales through customized marketing plans. Their success comes from their ability to meet the demands of their customers. First of all, one must determine the target market for each particular product, because not everyone is interested in all the goods available in the marketplace. Involve your students in an activity that demonstrates one key aspect of marketing and advertising. Present your students with a variety of advertisements found online or in magazines and newspapers. Ask them to analyze what they see. What pictures are present? What words are used? In addition to eye-catching images and words, discuss how the details, such as the style of font, make an impact on consumers. On chart paper, list the key elements found in the ad. Ask students to determine what kind of a person the advertisement is trying to reach, and have students explain how parts of the ad led them to their assumption of the target market. Next, ask students if the product being advertised is suitable for another target market. If so, discuss how the advertisement could be altered to attract the attention of this new group.
Once students have practiced analyzing several advertisements for a variety of goods and services, assign students to design a poster advertising one of the school store's holiday promotions. This is a great project for either individuals or small groups. When their work is done, students can verbally explain how their ad targets a particular kind of student. Select from among the best advertisements to post around the school building. Posters advertising the holiday promotions notify potential student and adult customers of the chance to save money when buying items from your school store.
Supply and Demand
If you and your students have been keeping track of the school store's sales throughout the year, you may see more business as December nears its end. The holiday promotions will teach your kids economic lessons that can immediately be put into practice, especially when teaching students about supply and demand. You can survey students about what is on their Christmas wish list and ask about what gifts they would like to presented to others. Next, ask students if they have ever experienced a situation in which they could not buy the ideal gift for someone because the store had sold out of this item. Ask students if they know why the store's supply of this product ran out. While it may have sold out because of an overwhelming popularity, the demand for the item could have been affected by a special sale price or holiday promotion. From this point, you will want to engage your students in a discussion about what happens when the demand for a product increases or even exceeds the supply of this product. Likewise, include what happens when the supply of a product exceeds consumers' demand. Of course, you are sure to discuss real-life examples that take place during the holiday shopping season, but don't forget to include how other factors, such as natural disasters, influence economic stability.
Illustrating Marketplace Demand
After your initial discussion about supply and demand, have your students interact in a staged marketplace. Select an item that is sold in your school store. You will need enough of this piece of merchandise for half of the students in your class. The group with this item represents the sellers while the other half of the class will be the buyers. To each of them, distribute $1.00 in play money. (Coins will be helpful.) Announce to the class that the sellers may charge whatever price they want for the merchandise. Buyers can then use their money to buy that merchandise. Encourage students to shop around for the best deal. For five minutes or so, the buyers can shop around. Once the time has ended, question students about how many of the items were purchased by each buyer. Then see how much money each student has. Follow this up with a class discussion about what challenges students encountered when buying or selling the merchandise. For writing practice, students can create a journal entry describing what they learned about supply and demand during the activity.
Overall Economic Lessons
As students continue learning basic economic principles, the school store will continue providing opportunities for students to see these principles in action. This is especially important when determining how profitable a business is. Students can be taught how to analyze margins to determine the profitability of a holiday promotion. Share with students a recent invoice of merchandise sent by the school store's supplier. Make students aware of the wholesale cost that the store must pay to the vendor. Tell students that this amount is less than the retail cost, and ask students why that is the case. You will want students to see that the store can make a profit when an item's price is greater than the wholesale cost, thus introducing the concept of margins to the students. This is the difference between the item's selling price and its cost to the school store. Students should discuss why prices for items are what they are. They must think about what they know about supply and demand to understand that at some point, consumers cannot afford or won't want to afford a certain good. Students should also understand that while sales and holiday promotions may help the consumer save money, marking down the price of merchandise will impact the margin for the school store.
From these activities involving the school store, students will learn a bit about how to be savvy shoppers who understand the basics of the marketplace. Encourage them to use this knowledge as they shop during the winter holiday season, and also when they are working for the school store.