Parents and young people as consumers

This past weekend was Mother’s Day in the UK. The date prompted me to read a paper that has been sitting on my “to read” list for a while: Stella Minahan and Patricia Huddleston’s “Shopping with mum – mother and daughter consumer socialization”. 

The paper interviewed 30 young women aged 20 to 22 years old about their experiences of shopping with their mothers. The authors found four main motivations.

Some young women were motivated by the very pragmatic reason that, when they shopped with their mother, the mother would pay. Another pragmatic reason is that these young women could trust their mother to give them useful advice and their honest opinion (for instance, whether some clothes looked good on them). 

In addition, many young women saw going out shopping with their mothers as an opportunity to spend time together. While these young women were meeting their mothers at a shopping centre, these events were “not about consumption” (p. 143). Instead, going to the stores was very much a social experience.

Finally, some young women reported that shopping with their mums helped them to develop consumer skills, such as the need to be wise with one’s money, the importance of returning products that don’t fit well, or the risks of using store credit. 

Reading this paper made me think about the “consumer skills” that I have passed on to my children. Maybe to always convert the % discount to an actual value? The discount rarely looks as good once you do the conversion, especially for an item costing below 100.

Honestly, I think that these days I pick up more tips from my kids than they do from me! I just discovered The Guilty Feminist podcast through Child 1, for instance. And Child 2 has a knack to find great documentaries!

What consumption skills (knowledge, findings, …) have you developed by shopping with your kids?

One thought on “Parents and young people as consumers

  1. The idea of going shopping with my kids… It sounds awful. But then, the idea of going shopping at all seems dreadful. In our family, its the odler generation which has embraced online.


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