Dot Matrix

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You can call a spade a spade, but until there’s a market-researched name attached to it, it’s not really a spade. Who uses spades anymore, anyway? Certainly not the generation currently most in need of a label—the Millennials. We’ve already heard a lot about how today’s 13- to 32-yearolds are redefining marketing, education, and technology use. But it’s not safe to call this a spade just yet. This group represents such a shift in comprehension that it has to be broken down further for analysis.

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New data has already arisen in the quest to pin down the behavioral tendencies (and buying habits) of this exciting new chapter in population growth. Apparently the segment of Millennials that currently matters most to the AV industry, the 18- to 34-yearolds who might actually be working for you right now, has recently been christened “Generation C” by one of the most long-standing market research names out there—Nielsen.

The “C” stands for “connected”, but not in the old-fashioned sense of knowing people who might merely help further your personal or professional goals. Rather it refers to the quick, fast, and light connection sought by a group so tethered to their devices, MIT’s esteemed expert on where digital meets psychological, Sherry Turkle, wonders if they’ll soon forget how to hold a real conversation with a human.

This is not to demonize these creative and vibrant youths, however. We’ve all been aware for quite some time that we need to adjust to this group’s habits and in some ways follow their lead if we hope to survive in the contemporary business climate. Nielsen itself might realize this most acutely, as its own “U.S. Digital Consumer Report” indicates that Generation C’s viewing of online videos and social networking sites far outweighs its televisionwatching time.

Perhaps the most important question related to youth and the future of AV was posed by a manufacturer who sent me an email a while ago. This industry is a relatively young one, and as such, the first generation is retiring. Replacing the original leaders are in some cases their own Millennial generation children, or youths from outside the AV family who have never spent a day away from technology and love the idea of working with it on a daily basis.

My manufacturer correspondent asked a valuable question that maybe Nielsen should investigate: “How does our industry move from ‘surround ’em with transformers’ to ‘surround ’em with headphones and iPods’—preserving the valuable knowledge of the past generation while fully embracing both the technical and business realities of this generation?”

Can you tweet that and get back to me?

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