Yell Group, the U.K.'s largest directory publisher, has published
the results of an "Alternative Census" that provides a 10-year
review (1992-2002) of the progression of 108 Yellow Pages
classifications, or headings, grouped into larger categories:
health, employment, environment, education, housing and transportation.
What emerges from the data ranges from the amusing -
the explosive growth in the number of "Shiatsu Practitioners"
to the insightful. For example, there is stark evidence
of the erosion of many traditional retail and trade classifications
in the U.K., mirroring a similar trend in the U.S.
the Alternative Census may be in large part a public relations
exercise (an engaging one at that), it does provide a serious
look at how the mix of Yellow Pages customers has changed.
We believe the findings are instructive for maturing directory
markets. Studying long-range trends in the mix of businesses
listed in Yellow Pages gives the sales and marketing machine
the fuel it needs to grow the business. This understanding
better enables publishers to alter how their products are
designed, how they are sold to newer advertisers in less traditional
headings, and how consumers can be trained to turn to Yellow
Pages for shiatsu as well as siding repair.