Key Stage 3 Communities & Identity

Year 8 Consumer Choice and Expectations

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Lesson Plan

Teaching ObjectivesPossible Teaching ActivityLearning Outcomes

Pupils should gain a basic understanding of:

  • the difference between what they need and that they want

  • the factors we consider when deciding which goods and services to purchase

  • the power of the media and advertising as well as the legal controls that exist

  • the importance of money and how it can affect our decisions

Begin the lesson by talking to the students about the types of things that they like to buy when they go shopping. Use the information that they give you to discuss their needs and wants. Would other people around the world have the same needs and wants as they have?

Ask the students to think about the factors they consider when they are making choices about which goods or services to buy. What are the most important factors for the class as a whole? How would the students make sure that the product that they are buying is really suitable for their needs?

Discuss with the students whether they feel that the media and advertising has any effect on their own purchasing habits. Also look at the legal controls that are placed on advertising and examine who ensures that these are followed.

Ask the students how they decide how much money they can spend when they go shopping? Do any of them have savings/bank accounts?

  • Students will be able to recognise that there is a difference between what we want and what we need and that careful planning can help avoid unsuitable purchases.
  • Students will be able to recognise the effect the media and advertising has and the controls on it that exist.
  • Students will understand the importance money plays when we are making decisions
NB - If you would like to undertake further work on financial capability with your students, a more detailed framework for this subject can be found on the Personal Finance Education Group website (

Teachers Notes

What is the difference between what I want and what I need?

Background Information

In the UK, it is an everyday practice to travel on buses or trains, perhaps visit the doctor or dentist, go to the library, have a haircut, go to the cinema or watch television. We all buy goods and services everyday and most of them we choose to buy because we want them. Some people will even think that they need them - ie, 'I simply cannot live without a new pair of designer trainers'.

The reality of the matter is that all we could actually live on very little if we had to. All we really need to survive is food and drink, warmth and shelter. For many people around the world their wants will be the type of things that we take for granted everyday.

Suggested Teaching Activity

Classroom discussion

Talk to the students about needs v wants. What is the difference between wanting something and needing it?

Ask the students to make two lists, one of things that they need and one of they things that they want.

Does everyone have the same basic needs to satisfy? How do we prioritise our needs?

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How do I make my decisions?

Background Information

How do you decide what to buy? You may, without realising it, be restricting yourself because you have been influenced by:

Why do you buy from where you buy from? Not only do we make decisions about what we are going to buy but we also make decisions about where we are going to buy from.

All these things can influence your decision.

Decisions made on the spur of the moment (impulses), or those that have been heavily influenced by other people can often lead to disappointment. There's a skill involved in resisting this kind of pressure so that you end up choosing what you really want - and not what someone else wants you to buy.

To help avoid being let down try asking yourself some of these questions:

If you think and answer honestly you stand a much better chance of finding what you really need.

Once you have identified that, you are ready for the next stage in the consumer decision-making process.

Getting together as much information as you can - collecting information is only part of the job. You have to read it to assess whether or not it tells you what you want and need to know. If it does and you're able to narrow down your choice you can go on to:

Shopping around to find the best bargain. Even though it may take a little longer it's a worthwhile exercise. You should try to compare prices and find out whether there is any after-sales service, delivery charge or other 'hidden' extras. Ask about credit terms if necessary and check to see whether you'll have to wait a while for delivery.

You can also use this opportunity to assess how helpful the staff are. One shop may be cheaper than another but you want to buy from someone you can trust and can return to if something goes wrong.

If a shop doesn't seem interested in you before you've bought anything just imagine how they'll treat you afterwards if you need to return to make a complaint.

Getting Information

There are lots of ways of doing this and some are more reliable than others. So you'll need to evaluate or weigh up what you are told.

Which? - The monthly magazine from Which? (formerly the Consumers' Association). It gives accurate, unbiased and comparative information on a vast range of products. If you're thinking of buying something expensive and technically complex like a video, reading through Which? magazine can help you make the right decision.

To use Which? all you have to do is look in the index to find the product you want. The index will tell you if and when it has been tested and in what monthly issue the report appears. Then you simply look in the magazine and read up the report.

Most major public libraries stock copies or you could telephone or call into your nearest Trading Standards Department or Citizens' Advice Bureau for advice.

Unfortunately Which? can't cover everything. You may have to rely on other sources of information including:

Magazines and newspapers - Some cover particular areas of interest, like cars, electrical or sports goods. They can usually give you a fair idea of what's available and at what price. It's then up to you to find a stockist.

Manufacturers' leaflets - Although these will have an obvious bias towards the product, you may be able to pick out some useful facts so it's always worth reading through them and selecting the information you think is helpful to you.

Sales staff - Many are specially trained and know a lot about the goods they're supplying. Their advice can often help - especially if you've already done your homework and have a list of questions that you want answered. But beware the ones who are over-anxious to sell. If you simply want to have a look around without feeling obliged to buy, you shouldn't feel embarrassed or harassed. If you think you're being pressurised - walk out.

Suggested Teaching Activity

Classroom discussion

Ask the students to think about the clothes that they are wearing now and try to analyse what made them choose them. Were they restricted in some way by their parents or by the school who insisted on a certain style or colour?

If there were no restrictions, what would you be wearing now and why?

Research Activity

Ask the students to imagine that they are giving advice to the following people on their options when buying a mobile phone:

a) Stan - Only wants a phone to keep in this car in case of emergencies.

b) Daisy - All of her friends send each other text messages and she wants a phone so she can join in.

c) Mark - Has just started a new business and needs a phone that he can use to make and receive business calls during the week.

In order to find the phone and network that is the must suitable and the best value for money for each of these people, the students need to gather a range of information about mobile phones. They can do this by looking at leaflets, on the internet, in newspapers, etc.

Ask the students to bring their findings back and discuss the options in class. Ask them what phones/networks they have chosen and why.

Further Information

Information on being prepared before you buy ( is available from the Consumer Direct ( website.

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Does advertising really influence our decisions to purchase?

In the world today, advertising is big business. Companies spend millions of pounds trying to convince us that we simply cannot live without their products.

Advertisers use every possible medium - TV, radio, posters, national and local newspapers, magazines, shop windows, on product packaging, etc, to ensure that we get the message.

A great deal of time and money is spent getting advertising campaigns just right:

All of these are done to try and ensure that we are convinced that we simply cannot live without a particular pair of trainers or that we will look so much better if we use a particular face cream.

In fact, as advertising can be so convincing some goods like cigarettes are banned from TV and radio.

No matter who the target audience may be or which medium is used, all advertisements have a common objective - they are designed to sell products and, on occasions, advertisers get carried away in their enthusiasm to sell their products.

We have discussed how powerful advertising can be so strict controls in this area are necessary to ensure that the advert is not misleading or untrue.

There are various bodies who keep a close eye on advertising:

1) The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) (

The ASA was set up by the advertising industry to police non-broadcast advertisements and sales promotions. They investigate complaints made against adverts and can ask advertisers to withdraw or change adverts that break their Code of Practice. They require that all advertising is legal, decent, honest and truthful through the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing.

2) Office of Communications (OFCOM) (

OFCOM was set up by the Government and has the power to stop any advert broadcast on television, radio, telecommunications or wireless communications if it feels that it breaks any Code of Practice.

3) The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) (

The OFT has jurisdiction over misleading adverts that have been placed by a trader or business where the ASA have not been able to make the advertiser remove or change it. The OFT have no jurisdiction over TV, radio or cable and cannot act upon complaints concerned with matters of taste and decency.

4) The Trading Standards Department

Your local Trading Standards Department ( also enforces legislation that controls advertising. One of the most common complaints they deal with involves misleading price information. Traders need to stick to a strict Code of Practice that provides guidelines for the pricing of goods and services.

Suggested Teaching Activity

Activities and Student Quizzes

The Smart Shoppers' Guide was written by Essex County Council Trading Standards and been adapted for the Internet by Oxfordshire County Council Trading Standards Service.

It has a whole section about advertising ( which contains a range of teaching activities, quizzes and information about advertising).

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How do I decide what money to spend?

In today's society we need to have money before we can buy things. There are quite a few different ways to choose when it comes to paying for what you've bought. The main ones are:-


Cash is easy to keep track of - you can see exactly how much you have got and how much you have spent. On the other hand, cash is not very secure and if it gets lost or stolen it is gone forever.


If you have a bank account, you may be able to get a cheque book and this is a good alternative to carrying around a large amount of cash.

Most traders will only accept cheques if you also have a cheque guarantee card. This card has your bank details and signature on it and guarantees that cheques will be honoured up to an agreed limit regardless of whether there is enough money in the bank account at that time.

In some cases, this card may also be used to pay for goods without the need to write a cheque. These cards are known as debit cards as the money is taken out of your bank account almost immediately.

Most cards will also allow you to withdraw your money from a cashpoint, simply by typing in your PIN (Personal Identification Number).


Credit is not usually offered to anyone under the age of 18 as it can be difficult to manage and it is possible to borrow more than you can afford to repay.

Credit can seem like a really good option because you will be able to get the goods that you want immediately and then pay for them at a later date or over a period of time. Unless the credit is 'interest free', you will also have to pay back interest and will therefore end up paying back more than you originally borrowed.

Credit cards - these cards can be a convenient method of paying for goods without using cash or cheques and they are very widely accepted.

Once you have a credit card, you can use it as frequently as you wish to make your purchases up to your personal limit. Every month you receive a statement of all of the purchases that you have made in the previous month.

You can choose to pay the full amount and not pay any interest charges or you can make a minimum payment and pay interest charges..

The Consumer Credit Act 1974 - This Act lays down the rules by which all forms of credit, including credit cards, store cards, credit agreements, mortgages and so, on can be offered and advertised.

What is APR? - This stands for Annual Percentage Rate and it provides shoppers with away of comparing the interest rates offered by different companies.

Make Money Make Sense ( a web based resource by East Sussex Trading Standards provides a range of teaching materials aimed at helping young people understand personal finances.

Suggested Teaching Activity

Student Activities and Quizzes

The Smart Shoppers' Guide was written by Essex County Council Trading Standards and been adapted for the Internet by Oxfordshire County Council Trading Standards Service. It contains a section on Ways to Pay ( which includes a range of teaching activities, including ideas for role play that students can undertake to learn how to complain effectively.

Classroom Activity

The Financial Services Authority has created Colossal Cards ( to enable you to give pupils in the 10-14 age range a greater understanding of the non-cash forms of money, such as cheques, credit and debit cards.

Further Resources

A large range of teaching resources and case studies for Personal Finance Education, can be found on the website of the Personal Finance Education Group (

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