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Bill Gillies - Editor

Morgan Stanley listens to youthful wisdom

I’m of mixed emotions when I read about the commotion prompted by Morgan Stanley’s release of a research note in the UK about young people’s media habits  that was written by Matthew Robson, a 15-year-old intern at the investment bank.

The report, which dismissed Twitter and described online advertising as pointless, proved to be “one of the clearest and most thought-provoking insights we have seen – so we published it,” said Edward Hill-Wood, executive director of Morgan Stanley’s European media team, in an article published in the Guardian.

“We’ve had dozens and dozens of fund managers, and several CEOs, e-mailing and calling all day.” He said the note had generated five or six times more responses than the team’s usual research.  In his report, Robson had little comfort for struggling print publishers, saying no teenager he knew regularly reads a newspaper since most “cannot be bothered to read pages and pages of text” rather than see summaries online or on television.

On the one hand, it is discouraging that fund managers could be so out of touch with the media habits of today’s youth. Memo to Morgan Stanley executives and clients:  I would be happy to arrange a bulk purchase of Grown Up Digital, which offers insights based on research with 12,000 teenagers and young adults in twelve countries.

On the other hand, it is good that companies such as Morgan Stanley are realizing that taking the time to speak with youth is time well spent. Today’s teenagers and young adults distinguish themselves not just in the area of media use.  They have different views from their elders on almost facets of their life, such as their expectations of universities or employers. Many companies would have had a smarter response to the arrival of social media programs such as Facebook, and actually talked to their employees about its use and potential benefits instead of simply banning the application.

Tags: World


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