A personal look into economics

October 01, 2004

Suzie Harrison

Learning about economics in Mark Alvarez's Laguna Beach High School

class isn't just a process extrapolated from words in a textbook.

Instead, Alvarez engages his students through interaction and class


"Every morning a team of two students addresses the class for four

consecutive days, delving into news, current events and examples of


how it had an impact on the economy," Alvarez said. "And they relate

it to what they've learned in class."

Bo Harmon, 17, and his partner Rebecca Campoy, 17, were dressed in

their business savvy attire as they explained that gas prices have

jumped as a result of hurricane Ivan.

Alvarez gives them four chances to allow for improvement.

"This way they can tweak and hone their presentation skills," he

said. "[You see] an amazing increase -- it gives them more confidence

and they become better presenters. They learn current events and life

skills, which is good."

After the presentation students discussed the classification of

consumers as habitual, impulsive or rational. Alvarez asked for a

definition of each and examples of purchases students have made that

fall into those categories.

Bo said that habitual means that a person buys something on a

regular basis.

"Like the coffee I buy every morning," Bo said.

Trevor Benusa, 17, said that a rational purchase is something the

consumer thinks about before he or she buys it.

"You would look for and research the best cost and buy for your

money, for example a car," Trevor said.

Students delved a bit deeper into the concept as they broke into

teams that were to think like the company targeting a consumer.

Stephanie Olamendi, 17, Annie Nelson, 17, and Emma Proctor, 17,

formed a group and brainstormed some of their strategies. They chose

bottled water as their habitual purchase product.

"We'll make different kinds, a selection," Stephanie said. "We

need to decide what will make them choose our water."

They also decided to have merchandising displays at high traffic

areas at the beginning of the aisles with promotions and also in

refrigerated cases by the checkout stands to reach even more


For the rational buy, they decided works car manufacturers who

would market their hybrid cars. One way they would reach the consumer

was to emphasize the new law that allows these cars to go into car

pool lanes even with one passenger. They determined with the price of

gas, these consumers would save a lot of money because the cars

required much less fuel.

"We would emphasize the safety features too," Emma said. "We would

advertise on billboards and the radio."

With their plan in tact, the team was ready to present to the

class their understanding of how to grab the consumers they wanted.

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