Originally Posted by Tonmeister2008
I posted a new blog posting
that summarizes some recent experimental evidence where I tested a group of teenagers' preferences in loudspeakers and MP3 versus CD music formats. This is just the beginning of a more thorough longer study, so the results are very preliminary. Still I thought it would be interesting to get some feedback.
I could find no evidence that these high school students preferred the "sizzling sounds of MP3" over higher quality lossless formats, as reported by Jonathan Berger. I also found they preferred the most accurate, neutral loudspeakers when given the opportunity to hear and compare them with something less accurate and neutral.
These results are not too surprising to me, but the media seems to have been reporting a different story over the past year.
It's an interesting premise but is it right or for that matter does it matter in any significant way?
For those of us old enough, we may remember the Coke vs. Pepsi challenge. This was a series of commercials where consumers were asked to sit down and sample two unmarked cups of soda: one Pepsi and one Coke. After that they were asked which they preferred. After taking sips from each cup, the majority chose Pepsi. Then something interesting happened. Pepsi was taking market share away from Coke and in a business where a percentage point means quite a few millions of dollars, this is serious business.
Coke took this matter seriously and commissioned their own tests. No matter how they were run, where they were run, etc. the results came back the same. People, even their own people, preferred Pepsi. So, what was the reason? Well, one significant difference is that Pepsi had a bit more sugar. Management said that the formula for Coke, which had remained unchanged for decades and was more closely guarded than our nuclear secrets, needed to be changed. So, the scientists at Coke tinkered with the formula and eventually came up with one that among other things had a bit more sugar than Pepsi. Most importantly, when they reran the blind tests, Coke came out on top.
So, months later, Coke made an announcement that they were shelving the old formula and the new and improved one would take its place as Coke. All is good, right? Wrong. The announcement resulted in a veritable sh!t storm of protests. It became a part of the news. "Coke has betrayed me. I can't believe I can't drink the same Coke as my parents and grandparents drank. What right do they have to take away what I've loved for years." This was totally unexpected for Coke. Despite coming up with a formula that tested better, people were protesting and the protests were getting louder. People were vowing never to drink coke again. T-shirts protesting the new formula were selling like crazy. And sales, well they were even worse.
Management then decided to bring the old formula back, calling it Coke Classic, and after a while things came back to normal. Coke regained the market share it had lost and all was well. But how was it that a series of blind tests that proved one thing could have had the results it did? What went wrong?
The answer turned out to be fairly simple. The way the blind test was performed was wrong. People don't sip their soda, they quaff it down. They open a can or bottle and sometimes in one long gulp, it's gone. So, you wind up getting different results depending how you drink soda. For sure there are other factors, but this will do for now.
Who are the Millennials or Generation Y? If I ask Sean or Arny, who is LBJ, odds are they'll reply it's Lyndon Baines Johnson. Ask a Millennial and they'll probably say it's LeBron James. Paul McCartney performed at the recent Grammies but there were people in the audience who had no idea who he was. Off-shore oil drilling has always been prohibited. They keep in touch by texting, tweeting, or Facebook.
So, Sean conducts a series of tests by bringing young adults in to listen to music and they tend to prefer the more accurate presentation. They sit down, listen to this and then that and then choose. They choose accuracy but is there something fundamentally flawed with the way the test was given? Perhaps so. Generation Y is different from myself who just recently turned 60. I grew up having to get up to change the TV. For that matter, I had to get up to change the record that was playing on my turntable. So, without a remote control, I would sit through the commercials and generally listen to an album in its entirety.
So, what does Gen Y do? The answer can be seen in the article, Study: Young Consumers Switch Media 27 Times An Hour
! Just like the flawed, but interesting soda challenge, Sean's test is also flawed because it's not a realistic representation how young adults consume media and music after all is media. Hence, they're not at all likely to sit down and just listen. They're going to be listening for a while then they're attention is going to move to the next, and the next, and the next thing. For sure, if the video or sound sucks they'll switch to something else. But while they're listening, they're also checking Facebook. They're tweeting. They're pinning on Pinterest. They're doing a whole host of things that me, who is a baby boomer isn't doing.
Perhaps Sean's test is overstated or over emphasizes the conclusion. They may well enjoy better speakers or better headphones, but it doesn't seem to me they'll be likely to change the constant media channel changing pattern. In fact, I suspect their general behavior will largely remain the same because what's more important to them isn't the frequency response, it's the content of what they're consuming.
To see how generations change, check out this link: http://www.beloit.edu/mindset/book/