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The Role of Age Demographics in Local Business Search

It seems that our recent press release detailing the results of YPA’s Local Media Tracking Study created some buzz in the blogosphere—most notably about age demographics.

We all know that younger people are more likely to use search engines to find local businesses than their older counterparts. Here are the monthly reach numbers comparing use of search engines and print and Internet Yellow Pages:

Age 18-24 25-34 35-54 55-64 65+
Search Engines 87% 80% 70% 53% 32%
PYP/IYP 56% 69% 68% 66% 58%

That said, here’s an important point to take into consideration: according to data collected by Burke for the Local Media Tracking Study, one-half to two-thirds of those aged 18-34 used either print or Internet Yellow Pages in the past month to find local business information.

That is significantly lower than search engines for these age cohorts, but considerably higher than what many might expect. The 35-54 age cohort is pretty much neck in neck—70% vs. 68% in the past month, and the print and Internet Yellow Pages combo is significantly higher for those aged 55 and above.

One other metric to keep in mind is disposable income. The Yellow Pages industry has positioned itself as the best source for generating qualified leads. By definition, a qualified lead is one where people are ready to make a purchase – in other words, they have the need and the resources to complete the sale.

Here is another chart from CNNMoney.com that takes a look at the median net worth of individuals by age group:

Age <25 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+
Net Worth $1,475 $8,525 $51,575 $98,350 $180,125 $232,000

As you can see, the people in the print and Internet Yellow Pages “sweet spot” may not be the youngest consumers, but they have lots of disposable income.  In other words—they’re the demographics that many local advertisers want to reach most.

Of course, we need to think about the industry’s long-term viability as today’s users age and gain more disposable income – and that’s why Yellow Pages companies are repositioning into a multi-platform approach for long-term viability.

4 Responses to “The Role of Age Demographics in Local Business Search”

  1. This is all very good but you have to consider the reliability of the results. You don’t mention the frequency of how people search in these figures. I would be really interested to hear your response to this video.

    We hit the streets of Melbourne to gauge how the common person on the street searches for products and services.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4cCZ0DHcBQ

    No doubt the yellow pages has a fight on its hands and it is wising up fast. But it appears Google is too ingrained on people’s brains.

  2. I am a strong believer in directional advertising, and although many people think that everybody uses the Internet instead of the phone book it will always go back to ROI. If advertisers can make money from the yellow pages then they SHOULD spend marketing dollars there. If I’m interpreting your data correctly, 56% of people 18-24 used a phone book or IYP (in the month surveyed). I am curious to know how much of that was strictly attributed to print vs Internet. Thanks for the info!

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