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Buried in an item from on Singapore Yellow Pages’ recent annual results announcement was the following:

Going forward, Yellow Pages is looking to expand, including possible acquisitions in Asia.

Singapore YP, which posted a 42 percent improvement in the bottom line despite continuing slippage at the top line, may see expansion as one path out of its persistent difficulties in finding growth in its home market.

The Asian region is challenging for directories. There are a handful of developed markets, particularly if you stretch the boundaries to include Australia and New Zealand, and a large number of very small, underdeveloped markets that may never develop the cultural triggers of a strong directory market — a consumer-oriented and highly mobile middle class. So expansion in that region is fraught with at least as much risk as opportunity.

Still, it is hard to overlook the rising income levels in markets such as India, China and others without imagining a strong long-term opportunity in directories — print and online. The real questions include which mode consumers in these markets will use to find local business information. And will directory publishers have the same role in that process that they have in more established directory markets?

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