By Jill Bensley
There is a huge population burst about to enter the American system, the Gen-Ys, Echo Boomers, or Millenials. They
number 79 million and comprise 26% of the US population. Gen Y is a gigantic group of teenagers, about 32 million,
projected to increase to 35 million in 2010. They were born between 1977 and 1994 and are currently ages 8 to 25.
They are the most ethnically diverse generation to date, one-third of them are minorities, mostly African American and
Hispanic. Although most of its members are still children, Gen Y's impact on culture, business and society is already


The U.S. birth rate started rising in early 1980, ending the baby-bust years. From 1989 to 1993, U.S. births exceeded
four million for the first time in almost 30 years. Today, there are almost 57 million children under age 15, and more
than 20 million in the four to eight age category.

As of now, Gen Y claim less than 4% of all household spending in the U.S., but in several markets they account for up
to 5%: men's apparel, women's apparel and footwear, and they also make up 10% of infant clothing expenditures.
They also have above average consumption of TV's, radios and sound equipment, computer hard/software, alcoholic
beverages, shelter, and gas and motor oil. Teens spent approximately $172 billion in 2001, and influenced $300 billion
in family spending, voicing their opinion on issues ranging from what computer to buy, whom to call for pizza, to where
to spend the family vacation.

This group is largely responsible for the growth and development of the more than $6.0 billion home game market
(CDs, Game Hardware and Game Software). They are very independent for youngsters; a startling 39% of 18 and 19-
year olds have their own credit cards. The oldest of Gen Y's are currently forming their first households. As the rest of
them come of age and begin to work, their spending power will increase dramatically.

Gen Y has traditional values that are reminiscent of past generations. They appreciate their families, country and the
planet. They think things other than income are important to success and happiness and they feel a responsibility to
make the world a better place. They are technologically adept and are growing up to be environmentally conscious and
far more tolerant of differences than preceding generations. Even as children, they are far more politically active than
Gen Xers.

The older Echo Boomers have high educational attainment, and believe education is a lifelong endeavor that is the key
to economic security. They are avid e-commerce users. 60% of households with children 7 and younger have a
computer and 67% use computers regularly. They are the first generation to grow up with a computer at home and
often help their parents troubleshoot. They are a generation that has grown up in the world of malls and cable TV, and
have sophisticated tastes.

GenY is changing the way many places do business. Hotels and cruise lines offer kid's programs. Malls and
supermarkets are providing on-site babysitting. Restaurants are setting out crayons at the table and expanding their
take-out menus, all to serve families with small children. Science centers and museums must get on the bandwagon right
now or lose out in the future.

Generation Y youngsters are described as "good scouts". These teenagers aren't as angry as prior generations. They
are good at multi-tasking. They can play a video game, listen to a CD and do homework at the same time. They crave
a multitude of stimuli and are avid game and movie consumers. They crave cutting edge, high impact, technologically
advanced entertainment that they push their families to buy.

As they grow up they will change society and the cultural experiences and entertainment it must offer to meet their
preferences and demands. Some characteristics of this generation that must be recognized by cultural institutions now
and in the future include the following:

—They are more conventional than proceeding generations. They love the oldies and their parents cars and clothes.

—They are opinionated and somewhat cynical. They have a strong sense of irony.

—They are serially monogamous consumers. They will be fiercely loyal to a brand for a month, then switch to another
more current brand.

—Young Gen Yers idolize their parents. In a Yankelovich survey, the number one objective of pre-teen children is to
connect with their parents. Providing opportunities for them to have fun in a multi-generational environment is a key to
capturing this market.

—Many come from split families, with busy dual career households. They will need shorter-term entertainment

—They are extremely green, and interested in a company's morality. Marketing and advertising though word and deed
is critical.

—They are by far the most wired and tech savvy generation yet.


In September 2001, Teenage Research Unlimited conducted an on-line survey of 1,241 eight to 18-year olds
sponsored by Amusement Business and the Themed Entertainment Association. The subject of the survey was teens'
likes and dislikes regarding museums, science centers, theme parks and other attractions. Among other questions, they
were asked "What about museums/science centers do you like best?" By far, the number one response was "hands-on
activities" at 12% of the sample. Other responses included:

Learning 11%

Exhibits 7%

Interactive Features 6%

Interesting 6%

We believe this list is too short and that science center and museums must work harder to get this generation hooked.

Some unprompted responses to what kids like best at museums and sciences centers is highlighted below:

"It's a place to pick up chicks."

"The interactive learning most of them have"

"uhhhh, nothing"

"the biological knowledge that you can get without a textbook"

"I like anything that has something there for us to learn"

"I love science centers. I love to go regularly to see the new exhibits. My local science center has something different
every time I go, so my family purchased a membership."

"ÉThe information that I can attain by looking, the fun attractions that are featured there."

"I like going with friends to these types of places."

"Definitely the exhibits and, in art museums, the intelligent conversations one can have with the docents. Most of all,
learning something new!"

"Learning about all the cool stuff in the Children's museum in Indianapolis"

"Playing with stuff they have there to interact"

"What I like about museums is that they make ancient stuff so cool and that I learn new things"

"I like to try all the neat equipment they have. The Ruben H Fleet Center in San Diego has a bunch of cool stuff you can
do. I like the ball that is held up in the air."

"They are fun and educational. I like paintings, sculptures and old things like mummies. I like to do experiments and
watch things happen."


One interpretation of the data is that these kids don't find a whole lot specifically to like at museums and science
centers. In fact, we can probably hypothsize that these institutions don't really get today's kids and as such are short on
interesting, stimulating and repeatable experiences for them.

To answer the question about how are American museums ARE responding to the cultural attraction sector, we sought
the advice of a national expert, Mr. Michael Wood, Vice President of Teenage Research Unlimited. Mr. Wood is the
leading expert on teens in the United States and his client base includes Abercrombie & Fitch, Proctor & Gamble,
Coca-Cola, JanSport, MGM, National Basketball Association and Teen People.

We first asked Mr. Wood about what's cool, what are these kids doing. According to the experts, the number one goal
for teens is having a good time, socializing, tending to the business of being a teen. They like to spend time with friends,
go to the mall, play video games; play sports go to skate parks, and just chill. Teens today have more than ever to do
with friends and it is interesting that they recognize they should be carefree and having fun, but they have a plethora of
demands with school, home life and sports. These kids have to work at making time to have fun!

Regarding their major concerns in life, Mr. Wood says they aren't looking too far down the road and they are
concerned with immediate challenges such as getting into college, having the money to get into collage. Even kids who
aren't on a college track are thinking about it. Maybe there is just too much pressure and hype on getting into a college.
Their futures are just outside their window. They are trying to stay out of trouble, experiment with things, and pay
attention to what is going on in school and in their lives. Instant messaging is a good metaphor for their lives. They live in
FLASHES and are bombarded with marketing, advertising, brand choices and media.

Regarding how these kids appreciate culture, Mr. Wood says it has to come from their parents. If not, it may come
from school. For kids to go to a museum or science center, they need to have a genuine interest in the topic. Mr. Wood
believes there are ways to present information to stimulate and develop interest. He says we must ENGAGE THEM
and present information in a way that is cool, like coming from a peer. For example, to interest kids in an artist, a
biographical sketch of what the artist was like as a teen could be of interest. For them to read about anything, you have
to bring a youthful perspective.

Additionally, you must incorporate a social side, especially to solicit volunteerism. Special events where kids meet
people their own age might be a tactic. Museums and science centers must take a risk, step out on a limb, challenge
teens and show controversy. Take the Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue; the controversy surrounding models and lack
of clothing only engages teens more. If adults are against it, teens will love it!

Mr. Wood suggested some very unique and useful marketing techniques for museums and science centers to get kids in:

—Partner with cool companies and leverage interest. For example, tech companies could partner with science

—For stuffy art museums, sponsor a graffiti contest. Compare graffiti art work with the masters.

—Get involved with up and coming fashion designers for art museums. Get Lucky Brand jeans or Tommy to sponsor a
promotion to design the ideal pair of jeans.

I asked Mr. Wood about the future, if these kids would support and patronize the arts and culture when they are 30.
He believes that technology is not working in our favor. These teens have access at their fingertips with the web. They
can go online and hear a concert or even visit museums' collection with a push of a button. It will be a great challenge in
the future to give these kids, when they are adults, a reason to come. He believes, as I do, that these cultural institutions
may not be aware of these trends and they cannot be complacent and hope attendance will stabilize as these kids age.
We both believe that in order to remain viable, museums and science centers must be proactive to keep market share.