Morgan Stanley: "Teenagers Don't Use Business Directories". Nothing New Except…

Morgan Stanley, the US research firm, released a report this week titled “How Teenagers Consume Media“. Written by a 15 year-old summer intern, the document explains what is relevant and what is not in today’s media/technology world from a teenager’s point of view.

Highlights:  

On newspapers: “No teenager that I know of regularly reads a newspaper, as most do not have the time and cannot be bothered to read pages and pages of text while they could watch the news summarised on the internet or on TV. ”  The intern adds that most of his friends do read the free newspapers like Metro.

On radio: “Most teenagers nowadays are not regular listeners to radio. ” They listen to online radio though.

On social networking: ” Most teenagers are heavily active on a combination of social networking sites. Facebook is the most common, with nearly everyone with an internet connection registered and visiting >4 times a week. Facebook is popular as one can interact with friends on a wide scale. On the other hand, teenagers do not use twitter.”

On directories: ” Directories Teenagers never use real directories (hard copy catalogues such as yellow pages). This is because real directories contain listings for builders and florists, which are services that teenagers do not require. They also do not use services such as 118 118 because it is quite expensive and they can get the information for free on the internet, simply by typing it into Google. “

On mobile phones: ” Mobile Phones 99% of teenagers have a mobile phone and most are quite capable phones. “

What it means: more anectodal than data-driven evidence, this report nonetheless confirms many things we take for granted now but it still holds a few surprises. The observation that teenagers don’t listen to radio regularly is, to a certain extent, a surprise to me. Radio used to play a very important social role when I was young but this might explain why we hear so much ’80s music on commercial radio these days. The industry don’t cater to youngsters. They’re trying to hold on to listeners from 20 years ago. A bit of a surprise on the cold reaction to Twitter as well but then again, they’re not prepared to build a second social graph after having spent so much time building one on Facebook.

On the other side, I’m not surprised at all by newspapers and business directories usage. I suspect very little teenagers (except for me!) used to read print newspapers in the past and Yellow Pages usage is usually driven by life events, most of them happening after you leave your parent’s house. So, no surprise there. I think what should concern directory publishers is two-fold. First, teenagers think that Google will provide them with the answers Yellow Pages used to provide to their parents on business searches. So, in effect, as Seth Godin said, “Google is the Yellow Pages”. Second, because they’re heavy users of Facebook, teenagers now bring their network of friends (their social graph) along with them wherever they go (including with their mobile device). That proximity enables easy word-of-mouth recommendations. So, what does that mean for publishers? It means they need to embed themselves wherever these kids will go for references as you might not be able to convince them to use your core web site.

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