Another View on Millennials and Print


I recently came across an article written by Ashley Leone and published in Direct Marketing Insights regarding Millennials and print.  I was intrigued because Ms. Leone is a Millennial so I thought that I would share some key takeaways from her article along with some supplemental data.  First, I think that many of us agree that Millennials are more connected than any early generation with multiple smartphones, tablets, and computers, using multiple email accounts and tons of apps on their devices.  Not surprising based on the fact that they grew up with technology probably starting at 2-3 years old and many were daily users of connected devices before they had a command of their native language.

Consider that millennials (born between 1980-2000) make up a majority of the world population, and population estimated to be 80 million people with a purchasing power of about $200 billion and growing.  Forbes estimates that millennials will account for 50% of the worldwide workforce by 2020 so, to any company selling just about anything, this is a market to pay attention to.

According to a study by the USPS in conjunction with Summit Research, about 89% of millennials are conditioned to get their mail at the first opportunity.  Millennials tend to check their smartphones before they get out of bed.  It is their fix for the morning just as coffee is for many of us.

Perhaps the biggest surprise for many is that these connected digital natives, who grew up around technology, crave the tactile interaction that paper brings. According to a study by the USPS in conjunction with Summit Research, 89% of millennials get their mail at the first opportunity, it seems that millennials love print—who knew?  This view is shared among many people.

The following are some key findings according to a study/report (Millennials: An Emerging Consumer Powerhouse”) from Quad Graphics, one of the largest print companies in the world

  • 77% of millennials pay attention to direct mail, 73% to retail inserts, 54% to catalogs, 51% to magazines.
  • Even though Millennials are the most digital-savvy generation, surprisingly more than half ignore digital advertising, and instead pay the greatest attention to direct mail and print advertising.
  • More than half of Millennials read retail email, more than any other type of email marketing.
  • Fewer than 1 in 10 Millennials based a purchase decision on what’s happening in a social network.
  • Nearly half of Millennial mobile users discovered new brands by following, liking, pinning or tweeting information on social media.
  • Millennials are cost-conscious multichannel consumers who actively shop from catalogs and retail inserts using print and mobile coupons.
  • Nearly half of Millennials made a purchase because of something they read about in a magazine.
  • 82% of Millennials read direct mail
  • 54% look forward to receiving print catalogs through direct mail,
  • 49% took print coupons with them to a physical store
  • 70% used grocery retail inserts and coupons in the past month
  • 6% higher coupon usage than all generations as a whole

The findings in Millennials: An Emerging Consumer Powerhouse were gathered from Quad/Graphics’ proprietary Customer Focus® 2015 Research Study, as well as from external research authorities, including Pew Research, Nielsen and Annalect, among others. Customer Focus® is a quantitative annual survey of 2,500 adults, a solid representative sample of demographic U.S. Census estimates. Millennials made up the largest share of the U.S. workforce as of Q1 2015 and, in 2016, Millennials will surpass Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) in population size for the first time in history.

According to the Zero Moment of Truth Macro Study, 82% of those aged 18–34 cite print as part of their purchasing journey.  The Centre for Experimental Consumer Psychology at

Bangor University conducted an experiment using an MRI machine while presenting participants with digital and physical advertisements. The following are some of their findings:

  • Printed materials not only make a deeper impression, but are also perceived as more genuine.
  • Using an MRI scanner, researchers have found, without a doubt, that content delivered on paper stimulates our brains far more than does virtual and digital content delivery. This stimulation is also tied to better content retention.

A TRU survey of 600 people aged 16 to 26 in 2011 showed that an overwhelming majority — 87% of respondents — preferred traditional birthday greetings to emails and other digital forms. Among millennials, events such as weddings tend to use digital invites initially, followed up with traditional paper and cardstock invitations.

More than 30% of millennials say that social media is for friends and family and don’t use their accounts to learn about new products. As for email, volume plays a big part. Millennials receive about 19 direct-mail pieces a week versus an overwhelming 567 promotional emails in the same time frame. In a world where screens are everywhere, it’s nice to sit down and look at something without a backlight.

Apparently, at least based on the sources in this News Byte, Millennials, despite the views of many, really like print.  Companies who are not seriously addressing Millennials and understanding their purchasing behavior as a demographic, will be missing out on a huge opportunity.

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