ORLANDO, Fla. -- A recent study has indicated that older consumers are looking for alternate music retail options, possibly including supermarkets.
Based on focus groups held in northern New Jersey, Philadelphia, Chicago and San Diego, the study produced qualitative research that revealed music purchase preferences by four demographics: ages 14 to 17, 18 to 21, 22 to 29, and over 30. It was sponsored jointly by the Washington-based Recording Industry Association of America, and the National Association of Recording Merchandisers, based in Marlton, N.J. Conducted by Business Development Resources, Stamford, Conn., the findings were announced at NARM's recent convention here.
"It appears that a significant population of consumers is not comfortable in the [music] retail environment and isn't spending as much time there as they have in the past," said Pam Horovitz, NARM's president.
"Clearly, adults are looking for a different kind of shopping experience than young people need," said Hilary B. Rosen, RIAA's president and chief operating officer. These older music consumers don't get as much information about music by word-of-mouth as young people do and therefore need more help in the stores, she said.
"Also it is a matter of time," she said. People over the age of 30 need to get in and out of stores quickly, "whereas kids have more time and want to be in the store longer," said Rosen.
The survey showed a dissatisfaction with music retailers in general and their level of customer service. Many respondents, including teens and particularly women, said they spend as little time in those stores as possible and purchase from mass merchandisers or discounters whenever possible.
"Adults are looking for more adult-friendly environments in which to buy music," said Rosen. "Record retail can be that. Whether or not supermarkets fill that bill remains to be seen."
Time is the biggest factor for many consumers, especially women, said Linda Ury Greenberg, vice president of market research at Sony Music Distribution, New York. "Older consumers are looking for something that is going to cater to them, to their needs and give them information. They have very hurried lives, they have limited time and they want to go someplace where they feel comfortable. If they come in and they don't know what they are looking for, they want somebody there who is going to be able to tell them," said Greenberg.
NARM itself is becoming more open to supermarket participation, said Horovitz. The association is working on a long-term plan to reposition itself as representing the entertainment software industry, she said.
"If supermarkets are carrying the kinds of products that many of our other members are, and if our services and programs are of interest to them, then we should offer them the opportunity to participate," said Horovitz.