activity: reducing the risks

The academic literature on risks is considerable and to study it in-depth would be beyond the time we have available. To assist learning and aid recall we have an in-class activity; we select a student to play the role of Adam and students to play the role of Adam’s mother [I tend to pick a male for this role] and father [I tend to pick a female for this role] . We ask each to assess the risks associated with backpacking in Europe and then make comparisons – between Adam and his parents. Sometimes we have to seek help from ‘aunts and uncles’.

What is enlightening about this activity is that within a few minutes, students are able to compile an extensive list of risks [one that spans many years of academic inquiry] and to identify risk management behaviour. In many classes all the risks are identified [listed in the e-book]. The one risk that is often overlooked is the risk of not going – this is interesting and suggests that the ‘no regrets’ campaign by a leading travel company catering for the 18-35 year age group conducted considerable research.

What is also interesting about this activity is it demonstrates that students know more about identifying and managing risks than they realise. There is also a general conclusion that marketing theory can provides templates to analyse most consumption activities.

This activity has to be handled carefully and warned not to be controversial just for the sake of it.

Scenario [part a]: Adam has recently graduated from University and is considering, prior to looking for full time employment, backpacking in Europe. He has been exposed to the social media content of his friends and from  ‘marketing influencers’ who appear to travel the world for free. He has discussed his desire to backpack with his mother and father – his mum sees a number of risks. Adam also sees risks but also sees the benefits – many of his friends have backpacked. His mother is anxious, she has discussed her anxiety with Adam’s father who is also a little anxious but stated that he is less anxious than if it was Sarah their daughter. Being typical parents, they consider a number of scenarios:

  • What happens if he loses his credit cards?
  • What if he doesn’t make friends?
  • What happens if he meets the wrong type of people?
  • What happens if he doesn’t visit the best places?
  • What happens if he encounters misery and suffering in the places he visits?
  • What if his beliefs are questioned?
  • Will he miss out on career opportunities?
  • Will he encounter unpleasant conditions?
  • After considering the types of risk
  • What risks do you think Adam’s mother is considering?
  • Given that there are risks why do you think people still go backpacking?
  • Make a list of qualities [LHS] and try to align them with risks [RHS]
  • From your own experiences as a consumer outline how consumers may manage risks

Scenario [part b]: After some soul searching and a cost-benefits-risks analysis, Adam’s parents make the joint decision to purchase a Contiki holiday for Adam.

  • Given your knowledge of human nature could Adam’s parents be considering the future and what would be fair to both their children?
  • How do you believe an organised tour could reduce the risks for Adam and his parents?
  • It is often assumed that the purchaser is the consumer – in this case is this accurate?
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