The biggest misconception with print communication is that younger consumers don’t engage with it. But nearly 90% of Gen Z consumers said they preferred brand experiences that combine both. That was a conclusion drawn by a 2021 study by WARC, which offers advertising best practice, evidence and insights from the world’s brands. Similarly, recent insight from JICMAIL, a UK organisation that provides data for mail, shows that physical mail is just as relevant as digital among younger Millennials (25-30-year-olds) and the Gen Z generation (up to 25-year-olds). This contradicts conventional wisdom that claims they only like digital channels. In fact, 77% of Gen Z consumers and younger Millennials prefer physical mail.

High engagement levels

“There is a large misconception that young consumers don’t engage with print mail,” says Ian Gibbs, Data Director at JICMAIL, adding that young consumers appreciate the tangible and personal touch of customer mail. “Time and time again, younger audiences have higher engagement rates. They may not be targeted as much, but the small amount that do have high engagement levels. It’s ironic for a digital generation – but they do appreciate a letter.”

“There is a large misconception that young consumers don’t engage with print mail.”

Trust is a recurring theme when it comes to print. Younger consumers (15-24-year olds) are more likely to trust communication via mail, with up to 45% of them trusting content delivered by mail, WARC shows. This also triggers further action - some 42% of 15–44-year-olds have searched for the brand they received mail from, and more than four in five (84%) have scanned in a QR code from mail to interact with a brand online. Similarly, JICMAIL reports that print mail is trusted by 71% of survey respondents, and 43% of it leads to commercial actions such as buying, donating or planning a purchase. “There’s something about trust and the tactile nature of print that you don’t get from digital,” says Gibbs.

What do you think about digital and printed ads?

Nika Volodina, 18, says "For me, a printed ad is better than online ads. When scrolling through social media and websites, there’s always so much information to process. In magazines, the flow of content is limited, so I’ll pay more attention to the advertisement. In one way I would say it’s more trustworthy when ads are printed than when you see a random ad on the internet. That’s because the ad has been checked before publishing. It also has a lot to do with what kind of reputation the company that puts out the printed commercial has."

Moa Nettleton, 22, says "If I’m on my phone, I know that every advert is for me, based on my cookies. It’s analysing what I’ve done, it’s more personal, which I don’t like. If I see an advert in real life, I pay more attention to it since I don’t know what I’ll get. I’m more likely to look at it."