Marketing
3 Studies That Show Millennials and Print Are a Winning Combination
  by:  |  Nov 22, 2016

Millennials, generally agreed to be the generation born between 1980 and 2000, spend more time on their electronic devices than any other generation, including post-millennials. You might expect that any marketing campaign that targets millennials wouldn’t need much print. But millennials are diverse, and many of them are far more traditional than you would expect. Print and millennials definitely make a great mix.

As millennials grow into larger earners, they are projected to spend an estimated $1.4 trillion annually within the next five years. Not only are millennials a growing market, they are one that is starting to age and become set in their habits. With the oldest millennials pushing 40, they are no longer necessarily the young people you might have imagined when you heard the word a generation ago.

These are three studies that tell us exactly why something as millennials and print are a good match:

Here are a few salient points from these studies.


The print medium itself is effective.


Balloon festival brochure Print is fundamentally better than digital at helping us retain information. We touched on this is in a few previous posts, including one on why catalogs became trendy this year. Consider just this one study by The Centre for Experimental Consumer Psychology at Bangor University which further strengthens the point that the physicality of print materials makes for a stronger neural connection than you could ever hope for on digital media today. 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.

This effect holds true for all generations. It does not matter if you’re part of the millennial generation or not.


Millennials like to receive print.


Business cards for a designer

These findings are from a study by Quad/Graphics titled “Millennials: An Emerging Consumer Powerhouse”.  The researchers tracked millennial consumer habits, and found that while millennials are multi-channel shoppers, print still figures largely in their paths to conversion:

  • 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

Millennials feel print materials have more value.


Custom horizontal Christmas cards example

In a strict sense, print does cost more per impression than digital. But the quality of the impression matters. 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.

Millennials and print have in fact, a closer relationship than you might expect. They have also led the revival of traditional stationery and greeting cards. This demonstrates that at some level, millennials crave the physicality of print. Which is great for marketers. Not only are print materials wanted, they are also a better delivery system for content.


Millennials and print make a good match thanks to both generational and physiological reasons. Just because they happen to be the most digitally-connected generation, doesn’t mean you should abandon print when reaching out to them.

In order to make the most out of print marketing to millennials, you may consider an integrated approach. We discussed a few in an earlier post, How to Win With Print and Social Media Integration. Whether you choose to market to millennials with an integrated approach or a strictly traditional one, it’s clear print marketing is integral to any effort to reach and convert this demographic.


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