Students investigate how consumers can influence the decisions of producers and retailers.

These activities explore how consumers can influence the decisions of producers and retailers.

Key subject-specific terms and vocabulary to be defined and explained before engaging in module 2 include:

  • Ethical
  • Producer/Consumer
  • Labour unions
  • Supply chain
  • Boycott

Learning outcomes:

  • identify the effects of being a consumer
  • describe how producers may be influenced to change their processes as a result of consumer pressure.

Key concepts

  • Globalisation
  • Consumer
  • Producer
  • Supply chain
  • Financial decision-making


1. Have students consider this statement.

Consumers have a powerful role to play in influencing the production of goods.

Once they have had time to process this idea, have them form a human continuum across the classroom, with one end of the continuum representing total agreement with the statement and the other, total disagreement. Randomly choose students at different points of the continuum and ask them to explain the reasoning behind their position. Students can then reflect on this activity individually in a learning log(external link) .

Survey the students about their opinions and behaviours as a consumer. You could do this through a Google Survey(external link) . Include questions such as:

  • Do you consider ethical issues before purchasing a product?
  • Are you willing to share or borrow a product rather than buying a new one?
  • Would you buy an item of lesser quality if it were produced more ethically?
  • Would you spend more on an equivalent product if it were produced more ethically?
  • Would you boycott a product if it was not produced ethically?

Analyse the data from this survey by presenting it in a series of graphs. Have the students analyse the results by reading and interpreting the graphs. Can they suggest explanations for the results?
Find results from a global study on consumer trends and compare these with the class survey results.

2. Consumer pressure

Have students investigate these case studies that demonstrate the effects of consumer pressure:

  • Nestle’s use of palm oil
  • Inditex’s (parent company of the clothing retailer Zara) use of Angora fur
  • Russell Athletic and unionised labour
  • Countdown, Kathmandu, and Noel Leeming gift card expiry dates

In their investigations students should summarise the issue, identify any groups or individuals involved, and state the outcomes of the consumer pressure.

3. Supply chains

Ethical producers are businesses that choose to manufacture their goods using ethical processes and procedures or source their goods from ethical manufacturers. Such businesses need a strong knowledge of their supply chain.

Students can choose a business that interests them and research their policies on their supply chain. They can then write a paragraph describing what the business does to ensure ethical manufacturing or retailing. Have the students think critically and consider the role governments play in promoting and ensuring good working conditions.

4. The human continuum exercise

Repeat the first activity and have the students reflect on whether they have changed their positioning on the continuum. Ask randomly chosen students to explain why they have or have not moved. Students can then add to their original reflections in their learning logs.