13 Jul 2009

Yet more meaningless insight into teens

Morgan Stanley recently published a report on 'How Teenagers Consume Media', penned by 15 year-old intern Matthew Robson.

Matthew's account of his friends' media likes and dislikes was described as “one of the clearest and most thought-provoking insights we have seen” by Edward Hill-Wood, head of the Morgan Stanley's European media analyst team. Such was the flurry of interest in the City that the report made the front cover of last Monday's Financial Times.

Here are a few edited highlights:

"...teenagers do not use twitter. Most have signed up to the service, but then just leave it as they release [sic] that they are not going to update it (mostly because texting twitter uses up credit, and they would rather text friends with that credit). In addition, they realise that no one is viewing their profile, so their ‘tweets’ are pointless.

"PC gaming has little or no place in the teenage market."

"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."

"Teenagers see adverts on websites (pop ups, banner ads) as extremely annoying and pointless, as they have never paid any attention to them and they are portrayed in such a negative light that no one follows them."

"Most teenagers ignore conventional outside advertising (billboards etc) because they have seen outside adverts since they first stepped outside and usually it is not
targeted at them (unless it’s for a film)."

Now while this is all v commendable for a 15 year old, surely Morgan Stanley and the floods of media executives and CEOs who apparently clamoured to get a copy are not so deluded as to put that much store by a sample of one (clearly privileged London teen)? Let alone send it out to their entire client list?

The media furore generated by the report begs the question: just why are we so obsessed with teens and their media habits? Yeah, yeah, I know, they're the consumers of tomorrow and all that. But seriously, they're so goddamn fickle that any research into them is rendered obsolete almost instantly. The Guardian's Tim Dowling makes the excellent point that:

"Today's young persons rarely, if ever, pay for anything they can get for free. The big question then, is this: why do we care what they like?"

My guess is that it's less to do with marketing savvy and more of a pathetic attempt to keep in touch with our younger selves. Give it up, people.