- 50 minutes
- Social and Emotional Skills
3Schedule 05/18/22 08:00 AM Garbology Garbology is an activity that will give students an understanding of observational market research. It is designed to test students’ assumptions and give them a fresh perspective about reaching their target customers. Garbology helps students explore the concept of marketing in a fun, surprising way; by digging through trash! Students https://teacheverywhere.org/activity/garbology/Print
Garbology is an activity that will give students an understanding of observational market research. It is designed to test students’ assumptions and give them a fresh perspective about reaching their target customers. Garbology helps students explore the concept of marketing in a fun, surprising way; by digging through trash! Students learn to categorize their research data into useful visualizations of demographic, geographic, and psychographic information and to apply sound judgment when making decisions. You will have the opportunity to test students’ assumptions and to help them gain deeper understanding of their personal biases.
Learn more about observational research: What is Observational Research? A two-minute graphics-based YouTube video
Social and Emotional Skills
- Students participating in this activity are practicing their Social Awareness. They are using the garbage to build knowledge of their target market which is challenging their ability to ask questions about others and their environments. Students will be challenged to use information they have observed and inferred prior to the activity about people and their consumption of products and pair that with skills such as empathy and reflection and exploration for information about individuals’ identities and cultures.
- Another competency that students may also experience is Self-Awareness. Oftentimes it is natural for individuals to learn more about other people and cultures and immediately compare their learnings to themselves. This is a way to process the information by understanding similarities and differences. Through developing a customer profile, students will lean on their assessment skillset and perhaps even question what their personal garbage, physical and rhetorical, tells others about them!
- Determine how you will share the activity with your students. Options include:
- Collecting photographs from your colleagues, family members or friends.
- Preparing your own photographs of packaging of nonperishable items that hypothetical families might put into their trash.
- Preparing bags of 4-5 items of nonperishable packaging that you will mail to students.
- Instead of mailing students clean, nonperishable trash items, you can have them collect items from their own homes, from family members or neighbors.
- Review the activity guide.
- Prepare to discuss market research with your students.
- Post/share the Customer Profile Worksheet on your virtual classroom platform for students to access.
- Determine how you will divide the class into groups of 4-5 for breakout rooms.
- Determine how you engage students in the debrief following the activity.
- Predetermine how you will divide the class for their breakout groups.
- Explain what observational research is and some of its advantages and disadvantages.
- Describe a variety of observational methods.
- Next, introduce the idea of using physical evidence to determine what people actually consume, based on where they leave their footprints (literally, in some cases).
- Tell them about the study at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, where tile wear was used to discover that the most popular exhibit by far is the baby chick hatching area. Mention that librarians can see which reference books are being used based on wear of the binding. Tell them that restaurants can figure out what people are eating based on what they leave on their plates. Grocery stores have shoppers’ cards to give them information about what and when you purchase.
- Ask them how using physical evidence can determine what people actually consume. They will eventually come up with the idea of looking at garbage.
- Tell them they will be assigned to breakout groups to conduct market research using the resource you selected ahead of time: either the photographs you posted, bag of trash you mailed to them, the trash items they collected from others, or the items they collected from their own homes.
- Tell them that while in breakout rooms they will complete the Customer Profile Worksheet.
- Give the students 15 minutes to examine the resource you pre-selected for them to consider and have them complete a customer profile.
- Remember to share with them that no questions should be asked at this time as it is an observational study.
- Tell them they will be expected to present their team’s completed Customer Profile Worksheet to the class.
- Send them to breakout rooms and begin tracking time.
- After 15 minutes, bring the teams back to your main virtual classroom.
- Ask each group to present their findings by asking them the following questions:
- “Why do you think this person is single or married?”
- “Why do you believe this is a male or female?”
- “Do kids live there?”
- “Do you think he/she is a blue collar or white collar worker?”
- Pro tip: Post these questions in the chat box to guide the student speakers.
- Tips for responding to students while they are presenting.
- Avoid telling them whether or not they are “right.” Rather, say, “Your guess is as good as mine.” This tends to increase the impression they are doing real observational market research.
- Share with them findings from other garbage studies, including Campbell’s findings that blue collar neighborhoods use more canned soup and that people report using more healthy items and fewer unhealthy items than they actually do.
Students can complete the debrief in several ways. Some options include on paper, in a group setting via any virtual communication platform, or by recording their feedback using EdTech tools and sharing with their classmates.
- Most of the Garbology debrief will take place while the groups are presenting their Customer Profiles. Additional debrief questions could include:
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of this type of market research?
- Do you think this is the most effective form of market research a company can do? Why or why not?
- What other types of market research do companies do to gather information?
- Why do they choose to do that type of market research? – What are the advantages and disadvantages of that type of market research?