1. Students should discuss how they and their families purchase goods to use in the home. What kind of checking do they do before buying? What criteria do they use to make selections?
2. After this discussion, ask students to come up with ten items to research; the items must be the kinds of things that have been available for a very long time, e.g., soap, washing machines, clothing, etc.
1. Divide students into three groups. Group I will work on finding prices and analyzing marketing language and pictures of these ten items in the 19th and early 20th centuries; Group II will explore the history of the development of mailorder houses, especially Sear's and Montgomery Ward and look at how they marketed these items to the public; Group III will do contemporary researach on these items available in stores and catalogs today as well as on the nature and critique of consumerism today.
2. Once students have completed their research, each group should prepare a report to share with the class. This can be written, or in the form of a PowerPoint, or perhaps, posters. Included in the report should be comparisons of pricing (related to average income)and marketing...what ideas have been used to "sell" the public on certain items?
3. The class as a whole should then discuss how advertising has changed over the past 150 years or so, paying particular attention to the power of electronic media to create a "need" for a particular item.
Group I websites
- 19th Century advertisements
- Emergence of Advertising in America
Group II websites
- History of the Sears Catalog
- Mail Order Houses
Group III websites
- Overcoming Consumerism
- Consumerism and the New Capitalism
This lesson was developed by Marian Maxfield, Kent State University