5 Reasons Why Younger Customers Prefer Direct Marketing Over Digital

pink doorhanger on a front door

To those who thought the internet would kill direct marketing (direct mail, door hangers, etc.), think again. 

As it turns out, marketing methods like direct mail are actually preferred over email and other digital marketing channels – by young consumers especially. 

When you talk about demographic targeting with direct marketing, Millennials and the younger generations are often better targets than Gen-Xers and boomers, as long as the offers and products are relevant to them.

Here are five reasons why Millennials and younger consumers prefer direct marketing:

1. They grew up on the internet and smartphones

We should start calling young consumers the smartphone generation. No other generation in history has grown up with devices in their pockets that can do more than all previous communication technologies combined. 

A lot of harm has actually come from that, and the younger generations are yearning for something more reliable, more trustworthy, and more secure, and with less anxiety.

Print and direct marketing like door hangers actually impress them more, and it stands out for the precise reason that it is not digital. They don’t call it ‘junk mail.’ Email spam and forced-to-watch video ads are the new junk mail, for younger consumers. One study found that Millennials are twice as likely as boomers to use ad blockers. 

More research found that 90% of Millennials prefer direct mail over email and believe it’s more reliable. And 75% said that what they receive in the mail is valuable to them.

Experian even reports that 67% of Millennials see physical mail as more personal than email. 

What’s all this mean? 

Young consumers see direct marketing as more thoughtful, personal, and valuable compared to digital marketing. And to be clear — this isn’t just Millennials. It’s also the younger generations. Further research found that people 18-39 prefer direct mail to email. 

This is all great, but does direct marketing actually work with younger people too? Yes, it’s wonderful to know that they feel good about it and trust it. But do they respond to it with dollars?

Another survey found that 62% of Millennials had visited a store based on direct marketing they had received. This percentage was higher than for Gen-Xers and boomers. 

So, not only does direct marketing work well for younger consumers, but it appears to work even better than it does for older ones.

Younger people suffer from digital fatigue in a way that older people can’t relate to because they haven’t spent their entire lives staring at screens. Screens are normal to young people. Direct marketing like door hangers breaks the pattern, gets attention, connects emotionally, and motivates a response.

And door-to-door marketing, including door hanger distribution at the elite level such as what you can create with Power Direct, is included in all this. It’s real. It’s tactile. And it gets even more attention than the mail because it’s at your front door. 

pink doorhanger on a front door

2. Less direct marketing is being used – less competition

With the advent of computers and databases, direct mail soared in the 1980s and continued to grow, though at a slower rate, throughout the 90s and early 2000s. But as the Postal Service reports, this all changed after 2007 with the Great Recession. 

Direct mail volumes plummeted as more merchants switched to what seemed at the time like less costly digital marketing, and direct mail never returned to previous levels. 

In fact, it’s still on the way down, decreasing 7.4% from 2016 through 2019. 

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What does this mean for you?

It means younger consumers are living in a time with less competition in the mailbox (and even less on their front door for things like door hangers). People still often stand above their recycling bins tossing or keeping their mail, but what they do receive gets more attention. 

Direct mail volumes are way down from their 2007 peak. With less competition, your direct marketing efforts get more attention. That’s probably why Millennials and younger consumers spend more time sorting and reading their mail than older generations. 

Front door marketing, a form of door-to-door marketing using door hangers, gets even more attention than traditional direct mail because there is practically zero competition on your front porch.

3. Connects with your online marketing efforts

None of this is meant to say you should abandon digital marketing. Rather, you will be even more effective using multimedia marketing approaches rather than digital-only. 

72% of Millennial parents said in one survey that print ads have encouraged them to go shop online from the retailer that sent the direct marketing ad.

Using QR codes, trackable phone numbers, trackable links to customized landing pages, and trackable coupons as part of your direct mail or flyer distribution strategy will bolster your digital marketing and produce more overall revenue. 

Multimedia is the path forward, and direct marketing, including front door marketing and Door hanger distribution, is an essential part of that.

4. Direct marketing is more credible

Younger generations have grown up in a world of online scams. Most people’s first reaction to the word ‘spam’ is no longer a canned meat product, but unwanted emails and other content. 

You have to be careful where you click. 

Sending emails and creating online ads is too easy and can be relatively cheap, which has led to a whole new type of cybercriminal that didn’t exist 30 years ago. Phrases like clickbait and email spoofing now show up regularly in conversations among young consumers. They know the online world is often not what it seems, and that you can lose thousands of dollars just sitting at your computer by clicking the wrong link or believing something you were told. 

Direct marketing — in part because of its higher upfront costs — doesn’t have this problem with younger buyers. Scammers don’t have the money, the creativity, the patience, or the tools to send out direct marketing campaigns. Email is far easier and cheaper. 

Thus, direct marketing builds trust and credibility with your brand, and is trusted on delivery at far higher rates than digital marketing.

A young man in a bright green vest carries a stack of door hangers to deliver.

5. Direct marketing Is safer 

Related to the last one, digital marketing is also beset with cyberthreats, spyware, and viruses that can cripple your entire network simply by clicking on a bad link. 

Younger consumers have grown up in this world of cybercrime. They’ve heard about hospitals being locked down because of ransomware, and businesses forced to pay millions for cyber insurance. None of this existed just a few decades ago. 

That’s why one study found that 58% of Millennials worry far less about direct mail privacy than they do about digital privacy. The digital world is the one to be wary of, not the mailbox. There is no spam folder or promotions tab in your mailbox.

Take your direct marketing to the next level

If you want to really ‘win’ with direct marketing, don’t stop just with postcards and envelopes. 

Front door marketing offers the next level up in direct marketing. Delivering a sturdy, eye-catching door hanger to the front door of your targeted consumers accomplishes everything good that direct mail can do, but more.

It’s more attention-getting, impossible to ignore, and has no competition from other mailings. You can use all the same tricks including coupons, QR codes, trackable content, and other multimedia tools. And you can target it to specific households at scale, rather than just blanket entire zip codes. 

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