Why Young Consumers Respond to Print Advertising

As Mark Twain might have said, reports of the death of print advertising have been greatly exaggerated. While some — mostly marketers out of touch with the rest of the world — thought digital would render print advertising obsolete in short order, the reverse is actually happening — and especially with young consumers.

Yes, you read that right — young consumers actually prefer print advertising to digital. 

And it’s not just younger consumers. Digital advertising faces some inherent problems that print overcomes, no matter who is receiving it. 

Here’s an introduction to what print has going for it:

Print advertising comes as a singular, finite presentation. There are no tabs, no links, no popups, no notifications, no ‘learn more’ buttons. You just read the ad and decide whether to respond. That simplicity stands in contrast to the endless scrolling of the digital landscape. 

Much print advertising also exists in an informative environment that the reader already enjoys and trusts, such as a magazine. Thus, the ads are seen as less intrusive and more trustworthy. They’re an accepted part of the presentation. 

Yes, digital marketing has its strengths as well. But print combined with digital works far more effectively than either one by itself. We’ll share some startling print advertising statistics a bit later.

Why do young consumers respond to print advertising?

Now, let’s look at young people in particular. What is it about print advertising that seems to connect with them even more effectively than older generations? 

Here are five reasons why young consumers respond so well to print ads over digital:

1. Print is more trustworthy

More data supporting the trustworthiness of print advertising emerges each year. For instance, Millennials don’t just consider print advertising and media more trustworthy, but they also say it delivers a stronger emotional connection than digital. More than half of young consumers ignore digital advertising entirely. 

The most trusted advertising media are, in order, print advertising, television, direct mail, and radio. Social media didn’t even make the top five. 

woman looking at her phone in the dark

In the world of news, printed news magazines took the top spot for trusted sources, followed by TV, radio, and newspaper. Digital news media hasn’t broken past any of the traditional news media when it comes to trust. And the same goes for the ads within those platforms. Because the news is more trusted there, the advertisements benefit from that same higher degree of trust. 

Perhaps this is one reason why print marketing averages a 9% response rate compared to the 1% (or lower) across digital marketing channels. And consumers trust print ads 34% more than digital when making actual purchasing decisions. 

The same goes for front door marketing like door hangers and flyers. It is so uncommon to receive advertising right on your front door. The novelty of it provokes curiosity and intrigue and diffuses mistrust, unlike what one often feels when encountering yet another click-baity, intrusive online ad or popup.

2. Easier to read

This is a major advantage of print advertising over digital. And this isn’t an opinion. The readability advantage of print over digital is backed by extensive research. 

Why?

For one, screens are harder on the eyes, because they have to be powered by artificial light. Plus, design features, color contrasts, font sizes — all this makes it harder to read online media, whereas print is simple, consistent, and accessible.

Young consumers concur. Fully 92% of 18 to 23-year-olds reported finding it easier to read print media over digital. 

This is also due to the fact that it takes 21% less cognitive effort to process a print ad compared to a digital one. One reason for this is because print advertising is less prone to distraction, as mentioned earlier. Online, you’re just trying to read an article or watch a video, and things keep popping in from all over the place trying to get your attention. 

Print is peaceful. 

When you come home and find a door hanger on your front porch, you take it inside, look at it, set it down, show it to your family, and go about your day. And as long as it’s there, you’re considering it. Print has staying power.

3. Gets attention due to ‘Pattern interrupt’

Marketing is about getting attention, and one of the best ways to do that is to take advantage of ‘pattern interrupt.’ Back in the 1990s, at the peak of direct mail, people received so much mail advertising that the term ‘junk mail’ became part of the common language. 

To break through that, you had to do things like use different colored envelopes, oversized postcards, and handwritten address labels. Those things still work today. Front door media like door hangers work even better.

someone reading a magazine from a chair

But for young people who are on their smartphones for hours every day, they live in a digital world. Generation Z is the first in all of human history to grow up in the internet age. They see digital ads all the time – whether in social media, online search, websites or email. To them – digital is what’s normal. So they block it out, just like older generations blocked out ‘junk mail.’

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Print advertising interrupts that pattern, for young consumers.

It’s less cluttered, less hurried. It stands out from all the digital flashiness, fake news, altered photos, spam, click bait, and deceptive links. 

The message in print advertising is self-contained. 

Maybe that’s why 44% of consumers under 35 say they read all their mail before tossing it. In fact, Generation Z and Millennials were the most likely generations to look at 100% of their mail. Print gets their attention more than digital ever will, because print is the exception to their reality, and digital is the norm.

Door hangers and flyers interrupt that pattern even more, because it goes beyond the mailbox and the news magazines. Now, the print media is at your front door, like a delivered package. It’s almost impossible to ignore. 

4. Print empowers the reader

With digital marketing, you kind of feel perpetually out of control.

Who thought I would want to see this ad show up? How do they know I was just on that website? How does Facebook know I’m pregnant? I don’t want to see this ad. I just want to watch the video.

Nobody ever accused print advertising of being ‘creepy,’ but you hear it regarding digital all the time. In fact, it’s gotten so bad that Google – which makes its billions off online ads — is planning to do away with third party cookies on Chrome in 2023. So the company that profits of online ads is willfully going to make it harder to effectively advertise online. 

Hmmmmmm.

And why do Google, Amazon, and Facebook advertise in newspapers and with direct mail? These are tech companies, using print media to advertise. 

Back to the point, online ads force you to watch them. You have no choice. They come out of nowhere. This produces higher levels of annoyance. You have to set your ad preferences. You have to block notifications and popups. You have to skip ads, only after being forced to watch them.

With print, the consumer is empowered. I get to choose whether to look at this ad or not. It doesn’t force me to do anything. The passivity of print is its advantage, because it puts the reader in charge.

By giving the consumer the choice, you don’t start off by interrupting and annoying them. You start off greeting them, and giving them the opportunity to engage. 

5. Print is environmentally respected

Young people do care about the environment, much more than older generations. And they understand that plastic is much more harmful to the environment than paper. Paper is easier to recycle, and trees can be replanted. It’s more sustainable, and less destructive than plastic. 

When looking at the ways companies like Power Direct lead in sustainability, consumers can feel better about the impact of the print ads they receive. 

Why print advertising should be part of your marketing plan

The point of all this isn’t to do away with your digital marketing. Not at all. In fact, it’s the opposite of that. Combining print advertising with digital campaigns was found to make online campaigns 400% more effective. 400%!

So it’s both, not one or the other. Multimedia, omnichannel advertising — that’s the path to maximized response, higher engagement, and increased profits and ROI.

cutout doorhangers on a white background

Print should be part of your marketing plan, and front door marketing like the high quality door hangers produced by Power Direct are one of the most effective forms of print advertising you can use.

Print offers a respite, an escape, from the fast pace of modern digital life. It lets you sit down, away from the bombardment, sip your tea, and focus on one thing at a time. Print advertising is the cure for multi-tasking — which was never a good thing for our brains in the first place.

Print lasts. It gets shared with friends. Left on the counter. Displayed at doctors’ offices. Print gets considered for days, even weeks after first being seen. Print gets clipped, cut out, and set aside for later. 

And print can appeal to more senses than digital, including touch and smell. Power Direct’s door hangers can be enhanced with scratch and sniff features that engage consumers in ways digital can never equal. 

All that, plus the distraction-free environment — particularly for door hangers — is why print advertising earns such a consistently high ROI. And when you use it in tandem with digital, the ROI goes up even higher.

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