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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Surprise! Kids Still Buy CDs

Research image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Here's one that will make you scratch your head. According to a recent study by the NPD Group, kids between the ages of 2 and 14 in the US still overwhelmingly purchase physical goods. In fact, 79 cents of every entertainment dollar goes towards physical product, and only 21 cents goes to digital.

NPD also found that most of these purchases come from music, as it accounts for 72 percent of all media, followed by movies, games, TV shows, books, and apps.

It's difficult to explain these figures, but there are four possibilites here:

1. Kids are collectors and they like physical objects to show their friends.

2. Kids buy on impulse and many times parents can't get out of a store without buying kids something - like a CD.

3. Most kids from 2 to 14 don't have credit cards (does a 2 year old even buy anything?), so that means their parents are buying for them, and they may be still steeped in the idea of a CD as entertainment.

4. Someone is very wrong here. Either NPD is way off the mark, or the conventional wisdom about kids being so digitally astute is wrong.

Frankly, I think it has more to do with the conventional wisdom more than anything. I know from the talks I give on social media (Social Media For Musicians And Engineers - or publishers, artists, or fill in the blank creative type), I'm always amazed at how little my audience knows about social media in particular and the digital world in general. Since most of these talks are in colleges, supposedly the sweet spot of the digital revolution, it makes me think that the Silicon Valley Illuminati thinks the world revolved around them, of which it has convinced the news media.That might not be the case at all, as the rest of the world (at least in the US) becomes increasingly hip to technology, but not at the same speed as we're led to believe.

Now obviously my experiences aren't with 2 to 14 year olds, but I just don't think the digital and social penetration is quite what the so called "common wisdom" would have us believe. Sure, I've seen the kids at the Apple store just as happy and engaged as can be, but is that really the case outside of the major media centers?

All I know is that studies like this make you re-evaluate just what we think we know about the digital world we live in. Some of us may be living in the future, while most are based squarely in slightly different reality.
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4 comments:

Kristian Jackson said...

Hi Bobby,

Just would like to underline your observation regarding the younger generation. In my day job as a school music teacher, I can attest to how digital naive many kids are. The credit card issue is a large factor there as many of my students don't even realise they can purchase an iTunes card from a shop using cash. They then tend to only download free music/apps.

I've been disputing the "digital native" argument for quite a while now based on my observations and dealings with Gen Y. Yes, some behave like they're a member of The Borg, but then again, so do many "digital immigrants" of the Baby Boomer variety.

The age of the true digital native is only just beginning with kids 4 and under. It's these kids that are born into a world of touch-screens and cloud based services that won't see the value of a physical medium like a CD. For the disbelievers, go and watch some of the ever increasing amount of video evidence of 1 and 2 year olds using iPads. Seriously, it will blow you away.

It's through these consumers that the evolution of digital purchasing will hit its peak.

Kind regards,

Kristian

Rand Bliss said...

"I just don't think the digital and social penetration is quite what the so called "common wisdom" would have us believe."

Amen to that, Bobby.

Digital is a double-edged sword that cuts too deep, too often.

I miss my vinyl records! Can someone transport me back to the good old '70s please?;-)

Nick said...

Are you kidding? I can't believe no one has mentioned the elephant in the room, piracy. There's an explanation much simpler than so-called "lack of penetration". The idea that hasn't caught on is actually PAYING for digital music. In terms of gross music downloading, I'm willing to bet it far outweighs CD sales. Services like Spotify and websites like Mediafire make it possible to listen to any song at any moment. If I, a standard consumer, am going to pay for a record, either about 10 USD on iTunes or about 14 USD regularly, I might as well have the physical copy. Don't think this "bodes well" at all; the reality isn't that kids are still buying CDs like they used to. That's simply not true.

Bobby Owsinski said...

No one is denying that kids don't buy CDs like they used to, but they still buy CDs. A lot of them. There was over 320 million CDs sold in the US alone last year, so it's still a huge part of the business.

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