International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management
Purpose– The purpose of this study is to examine the consumer socialization of preschool age children in a peer‐to‐peer context as they participate in dramatic play in a grocery store setting.
Design/methodology/approach– This research employs a case study approach as outlined by Yin. A preschool located within a major metropolitan area in the Southeastern USA was selected for investigation. Located within each of the three classrooms was a grocery store learning center. This learning center provided children the opportunity to engage in dramatic play while enacting grocery shopping scripts. A total of 55 children between the ages of three‐ and six‐years old were observed over a six‐week period. Observations were recorded via field notes and transcribed into an electronic data file. Emergent themes were compared with theoretical propositions, fleshing out an overall interpretation and description of the case context.
Findings– Findings indicate that even very young children (ages three to six years) are able to successfully adopt and utilize adult shopping scripts within the grocery store shopping context. The children followed a common sequence of behaviors that mimicked adult shopping patterns. Furthermore, the children demonstrated peer‐to‐peer consumer socialization strategies, directing each other on how to perform appropriate shopping scripts.
Originality/value– This study differs from previous research in that the data reveal that preschool age children do in fact exhibit peer‐to‐peer influence while enacting shopping scripts. Although research has examined children as consumers, no researchers have used dramatic play to study young children in a grocery store setting. The rich content obtained from observing children in dramatic play in a grocery store learning center is unique to the marketing literature and provides a better understanding of the consumer socialization of young children.
Drenten, Jenna M.; Peters, Cara Okleshen; and Thomas, Jane Boyd. An Exploratory Investigation of the Dramatic Play of Preschool Children Within a Grocery Store Shopping Context. International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, 36, 10: 831-855, 2008. Retrieved from Loyola eCommons, School of Business: Faculty Publications and Other Works,
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