When most adults see a teenager with earbuds in her ears, we assume she’s bopping to a band with a name like Pink War Machine or Artichoke Not Be.
A chance conversation with a high school counselor offered a different view. Students turn out to be regular listeners to literary audiobooks, particularly “secondary writings of authors they encounter in English lit. classes.”
After a midterm book report on Moby Dick, a kid might download Typee from the iTunes Store. After The Great Gatsby, maybe Tender Is The Night. Not for class credit, just for entertainment or enlightenment.
Why doesn’t she buy or borrow a print copy or an e-book? Because she has to sit to read, but she can listen on-the-go. Other than pale, pudgy videogame addicts, American teens run, walk, ride and otherwise move around a lot.
The gender of our subject noun of isn’t arbitrary. Our counselor friend sees iPod literature is mostly “a girl thing” in high school, but believes it becomes more gender-balanced in college.
Is there a useful marketing insight somewhere in this? We think so.
In our experience, more than a few advertising and marketing people see the teen audience as brain-dead zombies who require a loud noise and flash of light to get them to notice the dancing acne medicine package on the screen. If you watch a reel of teen-focused ads, this “Hey dummy!” tone often comes through. We think a lot of the kids are smart enough to be offended. Smarter than the marketers perhaps…