Old Tech for the New Gen: Millennials Love Snail Mail!

One of our biggest marketing surprises over the last few years has been how strongly millennials—the generation of digital natives—respond to direct mail. According to USPS Mail Moments 2016, millennials are more likely to read, organize, and sort their mail than all other generations. They are also less likely to discard their mail without reading it.

Millennials enjoy receiving mail more than their non-millennial counterparts, debunking the notion that the generation is paper-adverse. Half of millennials say they like to discover what the mail holds for them and consider their time engaging with mail as time well spent. As many as 34% feel excited at the prospect of checking their mail.

Why do these smartphone-addicted, electronically wired consumers still respond so strongly to print? Could it be, in part, how we are physically and psychologically wired? The answer is yes. Neuromarketing research shows our brains react differently to printed material than to digital media.

When the United States Postal Service partnered with the Center for Neural Decision Making at Temple University’s Fox School of Business to gauge responses to physical and digital advertising pieces, they found:

  • Participants processed digital ad content more quickly and spent more time with physical ads.
  • Physical ads triggered activity in a part of the brain that corresponds with the emotions that determine value and desirability.
  • With this stronger emotional response to physical ads, participants remembered them better.

Using brain images, biometrics (e.g., heart rate and blood pressure), eye tracking, and questionnaires to measure reactions, Canada Post found similarly intriguing results in its neuromarketing research. When they measured the response to campaigns that used the same creative approach and messaging for both physical and digital media, they found:

  • Direct mail campaigns required 21% less cognitive effort to process.
  • Participants’ recall was 70% higher if they were exposed to direct mail rather than a digital ad.
  • Activation in parts of the brain that correspond to motivation response was 20% higher for direct mail.

As human beings, we are wired to respond more strongly to physical, printed messages. For marketers who want advertising with long-lasting impact and easy recollection, printed materials clearly make a difference.

When planning your next marketing campaign, remember that physical mail—whether a letter, special offer, brochure, or flyer—presents a clear benefit that your consumers can engage with and respond to, providing ample opportunity to reach the generation with the most spending power: millennials.

Words of advice. Don’t send junk. Each piece of mail without perceived value chips away at your brand. Make it engaging. Make it worthwhile. Make it something shareable—person to person. Via snail mail. And maybe (wink) even on social media.

Is your organization ready for a fresh marketing campaign? Let us know. We would love to get you started.

Excerpted and edited from the USPSDelivers.com presentation Still Relevant: A Look at How Millennials Respond to Direct Mail (2017). Originally posted at Capiche.wine.
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