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Do Millennials Still Buy Print? [With Statistics]

Print has been around for hundreds of years (arguably even thousands), but with the rise of new digital technology, many print professionals are concerned about the future of print demand. A new demographic is moving into the market. They’re Millennials, the generation that reached adulthood between 2000 and 2010. They are estimated to have a buying power of $1 trillion by 2020, when they will make up a third of the American population. Despite having grown up in a time when smartphones and social media were still rare, the Millennial generation is now a major user of digital media and it readily embraces technology. This begs the question: do Millennials still buy print? The answer will affect the future of the printing industry.

Let’s take a look at the data.

Do Millennials read printed books?

To begin, we first looked at how Millennials feel about traditional printed books (as opposed to ebooks or audiobooks). Neil Howe, who coined the term “Millennials”, cites the following numbers in his article Millennials: A Generation Of Page-Turners:

  • 92% of college students prefer reading print material to digital material
  • If the cost of the print and digital copy of a leisure book were the same, 80% would pick the paper version
  • Young adults are no more likely than their elders to read digital books exclusively (around 6%)

So we know that Millennials are still buying print in the form of books, but what about their relationship to print in advertising? With Millennials becoming 50% of the world’s workforce by 2020, they’ll be making key buying decisions for businesses. Would they still invest in print advertising? Let’s look at the results of print marketing to Millennials.

Do Millennials respond well to print advertising?

There have been a number of studies on the Millennial’s relationship with print advertising, but they have all come to a similar conclusion. Take, for example, the Quad Graphics customer focus study Millennials: An Emerging Consumer Powerhouse. The study found that Millennials like to “hold print in their hands, read it, smell it, use it to link to a video or coupon, save it, take it to the store with them, and share it with friends.” Furthermore, they pay attention to print, as shown in the following graph from their report:

advertising formats millennials pay attention to

The next chart tells even more. Here are the types of ads that Millennials ignore:

ads that millennials ignore

It may not come as a surprise to you that Millennials pay attention to direct mail. After all, USPS published a study that found that Millennials were actually more likely to engage with direct mail than non-Millennials. The graph below was taken from their study:

millennials and direct mail

In addition, the same study found that:

  • 50% of Millennials ignore digital ads but only 15% ignore direct mail
  • 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

Why?

These findings had researchers asking the next question to better understand the relationship between Millennials and print. Why do members of this tech-savvy generation still prefer paperback books and glossy brochures snail mailed to their homes?

Because of Neuroscience

The science behind print helps us understand why. Canada Post published a fascinating scientific study behind how the brain reacts to print. They found that it requires 21% less cognitive effort to process printed direct mail than digital media. Hence, it is also processed quicker. Together, these factors make printed materials more persuasive and therefore likely to drive behavior. In fact, 23% of Millennials say they bought or ordered something as a result of receiving direct mail in the last 12 months, as reported by Royal Mail MarketReach.

Because of Trust

Another reason is simply that as a society we tend to trust print more, and that Millennials are no exception. MarketingSherpa’s Customer Satisfaction Research Study found that US internet users still trust print ads more than any other type of advertising (see graph below).

most trusted types of ads

It’s therefore little wonder why Millennials love print, and why most of the population does too, even in the age of digital advertising.

Yes, Millennials still buy print, and will keep buying print.

Based on numerous studies, it is evident that Millennials still buy print and continue to be influenced by print. As they gradually make up more of the workforce, they will likely translate their positive views on print media into purchasing decisions. The demand for print is here to stay, at least for another generation.

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Haidan Dong

Haidan Dong

Formerly in Prepress
Currently in Content
SinaLite

6 comments

  • I would like to share this with my clients, but the link takes them to the SinaLite site. What is to stop them from buying directly from you. Love the article.

    • Hi Elizabeth, glad you enjoyed the article. SinaLite is a trade-only printer, which means that we only work with printers and print sellers. All buyers must sign up for an account first, which we only approve once we confirm you’re not an end user. That stops your clients from buying directly from us. Hope that helps!