Monthly Archives: December 2012

Does your advertiser know the shifting demographics of their customers?

One of the most critical parts of the sales call is the fact-finding stage.  And an important part in that effort is to clearly identify whether the advertiser truly knows the demographics of their customers.

For any business, demographics are an important tool in doing business effectively, but in many ways the traditional profile of those buyers is shifting dramatically.

For example, parts of the Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey from the US Census Bureau identified one key shift American households are getting smaller — and are predominantly headed by older adults.

Here are some other factoids your potential client may not know:

Households

  • The average population per household now stands at 2.55, down from 3.67 in 1948.
  • Much of that decline is attributable to the growth in 1-person households, which have almost quintupled in number from 1960, and now account for 27% of all households.
  • The proportion of households headed by white non-Hispanic adults stands at 69% this year, down 8% from 75% in 2000
  • Households headed by 30 to 44 year-olds has plummeted from a peak of 34% in 1990 to just 26% this year (effects of aging of the Baby Boomers).
  • 39% of households are headed by adults aged 45-64.

Seniors:

  • Data shows that the percentage of households headed by adults aged 75 and older has grown from 6% in 1960 to 10% this year.
  • More than half of householders 75 and older live alone as of this year.   That compares to less than one-quarter of householders less than 30 years old.

Married, or not:

  • There are now 7.8 million couples living together without being married, more than double the 2.9 million from 1996.
  • Married households make up 49% of all households, down from 71% in 1970.
  • 52% of married couples have both husband and wife working outside the home. That’s down from 56% in 2000.

Parenting:

  • The percentage of stay-at-home parents who are fathers has grown from 1.6% in 1994 (76,000) to 3.6% this year (189,000).
  • Among married-couple parents with children  younger than 15, the percentage with stay-at-home mothers is estimated to be 24%.
  • 85% of single-race Asian children live with 2-parent families (whether married or not). That proportion drops to 77% among      single-race white non-Hispanic children, to 66% of Hispanic children, and all the way to 38% of single-race black children.

As you can see, some of these changes are significant, and I’m not sure most business owners are aware of them.  Those that do understand they may now have to tailor their advertising message differently such as highlighting special services or features, or even consider different artwork or photography to better match, or even cater to, these shifting demographics.

Do these businesses know that the goal posts may have shifted on them??

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How to confront a critic of the industry’s environmental efforts

One of the most effective ways I have found to deal with industry critics regarding our environmental position is to simply to engage them in a conversation.  As simple as that concept seems, many are disarmed immediately when you present the simple facts of how the industry has been proactive in the makeup of the materials we use in our print products, the voluntary opt-out programs implemented, and what the real statistics are on the impact of directories to the local waste stream.

Local Search Association President Neg Norton recently demonstrated that on a panel run by the Product Stewardship Institute, a group that has made it their self-appointed duty to confront industries they feel are anti-environment.

Here is the full content of Neg’s response as posted on the Association’s “Insiders” blog.  Good job Neg and the entire LSA team:

 Product Stewardship and the Yellow Pages Industry

Contributed by: Neg Norton

What is the role of government in product stewardship? This question was posed to me as one of five panelists on yesterday’s Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) webinar. Many government officials and recycling professionals listened in, and other panelists included:

According to PSI’s invitation, the purpose of the webinar discussion was to discern, “…whether key [product stewardship] program principles, such as transparency and accountability, are best attained through voluntary, mandatory, or hybrid programs that encompass elements from both approaches.”

During the webinar, I stressed that it is important to not lump all of private industry together when considering how to regulate the environmental impact of products in the marketplace. Government leaders and other key stakeholders should look at what each individual industry is doing and not take a one-size-fits-all approach.

As we know, many states and cities are feeling the budget pinch, and taxpayer money has to be carefully prioritized to protect public health and safety. The bigger the threat, the greater need for government.

Certainly, hazardous products require government oversight in order to protect consumers from injury. As the ACA’s Alison Keane noted, paint is the top household hazardous waste product. That is why the ACA founded “PaintCare,” a non-profit program to manage the reuse, recycling and proposal disposal of unused paint. This industry-support effort is in conjunction with government oversight initiatives that include a per-can assessment fee, convenient paint collection and a management system run by manufacturers.

However, a telephone directory does not present the safety hazards that paint can. And when it comes to the print Yellow Pages, we know that voluntary self-regulation through industry-led efforts works best for consumers, small businesses, and most importantly, taxpayers.

Our industry has been proactive in reducing the carbon footprint of our products and has generated significant results. Last year, we re-launched our successful, industry-funded consumer website, www.YellowPagesOptOut.com. The site, which is provided at no cost to consumers or cities, enables residents and local businesses to choose which directories they receive or stop delivery altogether. The recycling rate for print directories is high and the impact of phone books on the municipal waste stream is miniscule. Moreover, over the past five years, our industry has undergone a 50% reduction of paper use for directory production.

Another factor is whether government and an industry are aligned in their goals. For our industry, we have a common desire with government to reduce the number of unwanted directories. Publishers do not want to incur the cost of printing and delivering a product to a household that does not intend to use it. Local government wants to reduce unwanted directory deliveries but often have competing budgetary demands. So, the industry offers a free solution: a website where consumers can opt-out of phone directory delivery.

Mr. Lifset included in one of his presentation slides that there is, “No sound science to support effectiveness of voluntary approaches to environmental policy,” and that the, “Majority of voluntary schemes collect little or no data… no data, no evidence!” I disagree. For one, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) provides us with credible data on the success of our efforts. Back in 2009, the EPA determined that directories made up three-tenths of one percent of the of discarded paper & paperboard products in the municipal waste stream. Now, however, the EPA has determined that phone directories are such a small part of the municipal waste stream that they no longer see a need to track the product separately.

Mr. Martin noted that Australia had a 77.7% recovery rate for newsprint in 2011. That is very common to the recycling rate for newsprint in the U.S. – which includes telephone directories – of 71.6%. Whether or not the Australian rate includes telephone directories is secondary to the larger point of the commonness and success in paper recycling globally.

While our industry continues to responsibly self-regulate the production, distribution and disposal of our products, we believe that government can play an important role in communicating solutions and options to the public. I shared with the webinar listeners an overview of the collaborative press releases that our industry has issued with state and local lawmakers across the country, several of whom are noted as strong advocates of the environment.

I’m glad that our industry had this opportunity to share our positive story with interested parties on the PSI webinar, and I look forward to continued dialogue.