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You Hate What You Are Used To…Why Millennials Like Direct Mail

by | Last updated Apr 16, 2021 | Published on Mar 13, 2018 | Content Marketing | 0 comments

I have a trash can in my office. Not some cute, little office trash can that matches the decor of my workspace but a regular 20 gallon kitchen trash can. And in two months it is completely full of junk mail. To be clear, that’s just the junk mail that didn’t have any valuable personal information that I felt the need to shred.

While older generations have grown sick of and immune to direct mail marketing, Millennials have embraced the medium. According to the US Postal Service, these digital natives actually like direct mail.

Certainly the post office has something to gain by marketers shifting some dollars from digital back to print but let’s look at their stats :

  • 84% of Millennials take the time to look through their mail.
  • 64% would rather scan for useful info in the mail than email.
  • 90% of Millennials think direct mail advertising is reliable.
  • 57% have made purchases based on direct mail offers.
  • 87% of Millennials like receiving direct mail.


Millennials grew up in a world where email and other digital communication have never not existed. They were raised conducting research online rather than using some old dusty set of encyclopedias or microfiche. They text, Snapchat and and stay connected on social media. They share experiences through Instagram and YouTube. And they probably have never seen a  phone book.

They have also become adept at ignoring the digital noise, spammy emails and online advertisements.

direct mail stats from marketingprofs

Source: https://www.marketingprofs.com/chirp/2017/32547/the-evolution-of-influencer-marketing-infographic

Millennials see email and online ads the way older generations see direct mail. They are surrounded by and bombarded with digital messaging. To them, direct mail stands out. It is something they can hold and interact with on a different level.

In fact, there are other behaviors that indicate that Millennials aren’t as committed to digital consumption as we might think. According to an infographic from US Presort, Millennials make up 31% of magazine and 20% of newspaper readers. And surprisingly, they think printed advertising is more trustworthy than online versions.

Print advertising and direct mail can be costly compared to other online channels and ad buys, contributing to a higher acquisition cost. But, among 25 to 34 year olds, the response rate is almost 500% greater for direct mail.

And, in 2014, 28.9 million of Millennials made a purchase from a catalog. So all those catalogs you might use as emergency wrapping paper or to protect fragile items you want to pack away actually generate ROI with younger generation who enjoy thumbing through the printed pages.

While print may seem to be on its way out, digital may actually help it stand out.

Integrating print and digital

If you are going to use direct mail to attract Millennials, you need to do it differently. Just because they use and trust print, doesn’t mean the same designs and formats will work with these whippersnappers.

Millennials respond to visual content just as they do in the digital world. That means you’ll have to get creative, relying less on text and more on images to drive home your message. Show them, don’t tell them.

You’ll also want to remember that Millennials still spend most of their day in the digital world. As such, consider experimenting with new ways to leverage the digital world and make your direct mail more engaging.

No, we don’t mean QR codes.

We’re talking about augmented reality (AR). You might not realize it, but you are probably familiar with AR.

AR was introduced several years ago but it didn’t really get very far until Pokemon GO brought it to the mainstream in 2016. This smartphone game allowed players to see content/images/animations superimposed over real world scenes captured by the phone’s camera.

This same technology can be used in print. In January, Time magazine incorporated four AR “activations” in an issue including an interview, an animated infographic, a video and a featurette, which could be accessed via Time’s smartphone app.

According to Adweek, while AR was off to a slow start, the Pokemon Go game and Snapchat have created an environment that makes the use of AR in print very promising. Who hasn’t used the Snapchat filters to take a picture of themselves with dog or bunny ears or a flower crown?

Using AR, marketers can hide coupons or specials, exclusive content or offers or access to video in their direct mail which are then viewed with a smartphone or tablet camera, bringing the digital world to print and creating a more complete, multi-sensory experience for Millennials – and the rest of us, too.

Mixing it up

Whatever you try, remember the old tried-and-true direct mail won’t work. The design and messaging must be executed in a manner Millennials respond to. Think about how this generation communicates, use engaging imagery and try to incorporate digital elements that appeal to multiple senses.

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