Quality Audio: What About the Kids?

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As a member of CEA’s Audio Division Board and the chairperson of the Youth Promotions Committee, I wanted to share Allyson Pahmer’s recent blog post.  Tweens and young adults are a largely untapped market for quality audio products. Raising awareness that something better than earbuds exists is an opportunity for many audio and accessory CE firms.  Let me know if you are interested in helping!

Thank you,
Coleen Sterns Leith

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Original Article By Allyson Pahmer, Director, CEA Member Programs

For as long as I’ve been working with the Audio Division at CEA (that’s seven years on Saturday), I’ve been hearing about how today’s young people have never heard good audio. There is widespread concern that for the typical young adult (ages 18-25), the ease of convenience (carrying 10,000 songs in his pocket) slew the pursuit of quality, and we can never go back. (Cue the ominous music.)

Seven years ago the iPod, threatening to some as it was, was still only a device with a single purpose: music. Now, for the typical 21-year-old, the device that holds all those songs is also his phone, his email, his calendar, his portal to his social life, his camera – and it is also becoming his wallet and primary video viewing screen. Try taking that away from him. Go ahead. We’ll wait.

The problem with this assumption is there always seem to be exceptions to the rule.

teen headphones

Several people recently sent me links to this article in Sound & Vision that points to  new research illustrating that young people can and do prefer better sound reproduction. Harman’s Dr. Sean Olive’s research shows that in blind tests, high school and college students picked the sound from CDs over MP3s more than 70 percent of the time.

Furthermore, thanks to Monster and Dr. Dre (and others who are following suit), it’s not unusual to see young people with $300 headphones. That’s a $300 investment in audio! Sure, it’s a status symbol that may be as valuable for its cachet as any other investment in a recognizable brand. But my parents don’t have $300 invested in their audio, and they are supposed to be the demographic who understands the value of quality audio.

Young people have money to spend and can hear the difference in better audio. What they don’t seem to have, across the board, is the desire to pursue it. How do we create the desire and make audio products the most sought-after consumer electronics (CE) purchases for these young consumers? The Audio Division would love to hear some ideas.

If you are CEA Retailer Member, we’re counting on you to be creative and find ways to get younger consumers into your stores and turn them on to the glory of great audio. I work with a significant number of CEA members who fondly remember the days when a “hi-fi” system would be the first thing on the wish list for a recent college graduate.

Guess what? It’s graduation season! CEA retailers should get involved with our series of three Demo Days weekends this summer. Participation is free and you will be amazed at the program we have set up for you. (Contact Kerry Moyer kmoyer@ce.org for more information.) Finally, if you are a CEA member interested in working with the Audio Division to promote better audio to younger consumers, please contact me at apahmer@ce.org.

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This article by author Allyson Pahmer was posted with permission of the CEA Audio Division. The original post can be found here.