business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Variety has a story this morning saying that "the number of frequent moviegoers in the all-important 18-24 age group plunged an unprecedented 21% in 2013, according to MPAA annual statistics released Tuesday … while attendance in the 12-17 age bracket also saw a precipitous drop off, falling almost 15%." The story concludes that formerly frequent moviegoers "from 12-24 are likely spending much of their previous moviegoing time watching a variety of other screens."

To me, this is the kind of story to which every business needs to pay attention, since it reflects a broader demographic trend - young people who used to be committed to a certain kind of behavior, on which an entire industry depended, changing that behavior in ways that cannot help but change that industry.

In this case, we're talking about the movie business. But there's no reason to think that pretty much any other industry would not be vulnerable to the same kinds of seismic shifts.

Now, I would argue - probably because I am a man of a certain age - that this may end up being a good thing. Too many movies, in my view, have been targeted specifically to that 12-24 demographic. Too many car chases and explosions, too little characterization and legitimate drama. If this target demographic no longer can be counted on, it will mean that the movie industry will have to get more diversified in its tastes, painting with different brushes, using different colors, and appealing to different audiences with a greater variety of product. (Or, the industry will just double down, offering faster car chases and more explosions as a way of getting the target demographic back into theaters, which may work in the short term but is not, in my view, a sustainable strategy.)

Meanwhile, the movie industry has to figure out how to make the theater experience a more compelling and attractive one, and how to embrace the technology that make it possible for these young people to consume content on their own terms (and still make a buck).

There are lessons to be learned here by every industry. It is about understanding that the next generation of consumers may have absolutely no fealty to traditional consumption methods, and figuring out how to compensate for these changes.

The changes are an Eye-Opener. The mistake is keeping your eyes closed and ignoring broad consumer trends that are inevitable.
KC's View: