Millennials and Mail: 5 Myths and the Truth Behind Them

To drive action among Millennials, companies must learn how to create campaigns that resonate with this demographic.

U.S. Millennial consumers engage with brands via social media follows, website browsing, mobile app usage and text message subscriptions more than their Gen X and baby boomer counterparts—and, in fact, even more than their Gen Z counterparts.1 It’s natural to assume that this generation is only susceptible to digital media. After all, they were born and raised on the internet.

In this article, we’ll dispel some of the biggest misconceptions about Millennials and their relationship with mail while providing some helpful tips for building a Millennial‑friendly omni‑channel campaign.

Myth 1: Print marketing is dead among millennials.

Millennials are not nearly as print-averse as people may think: One study shows that 74% of them read print books.2 Research also shows that these digitally engaged consumers are suffering from digital fatigue. In fact, in one survey of Americans, 37% of Millennial respondents said they received marketing emails “way too often,” and 22% said they received “a few too many”.3

Print marketing, on the other hand, has the ability to stand out. While Millennials receive hundreds of emails every week, mail comes less frequently. As a result, this age group doesn’t feel the need to tune out the messaging. In one survey of Millennials, 62% of respondents said they had visited a store in the past month based on information received in the mail—more often than Gen Xers or boomers had.4

Ideas Worth Implementing: Studies show that Millennials spent more time with physical ads than digital ads.5 Take advantage of this, and use your mailpieces to create memorable, visually appealing content.

Myth 2: Millennials are digital addicts who only engage online.

Millennials may be digital natives, but it’s not the only medium they consume. One study shows that 33% of Millennials have an active subscription to a newspaper or magazine.6 And when they are online, they’re not always responding to digital marketing. Millennials are twice as likely as boomers to use ad blockers.7 In addition, only 19% of Millennials report opening marketing emails “always” or “frequently”.8

Ideas Worth Implementing: Send consumers customized mailpieces. In one study, it was shown that targeting on a 1:1 level increases response rates by 50%.9

Myth 3: Millennials do not think mail is relevant.

Though this demographic has grown up in a digital media landscape, they still interact with and enjoy direct mail. In one survey of Millennials, 75% of respondents said receiving personal mail makes them feel special.10 So opt for a cohesive omni-channel experience. By mentioning social media in direct mail copy, brands can bridge the gap between the print and digital worlds.

Ideas Worth Implementing: Amplify your direct mail by tying in your social media accounts. Simply including a QR Code® leading customers to one of your social channels can provide an engaging omni-channel experience.11

Myth 4: Millennials do not trust direct mail.

Research has shown the opposite to be true. In one study, it was found that 58% of Millennials worry less about direct mail privacy than digital communications privacy.12 And Millennials value direct mail in general: 69% of Millennials said they “somewhat” or “very much” like coupons for restaurants, and 65% said they like coupons for retail businesses.13

Ideas Worth Implementing: Use direct mail in conjunction with your digital marketing to highlight the most important product information and promotions associated with your campaign.

Myth 5: Millennials are not responsive to direct mail.

Wrong. Direct mail has actually been a successful sales driver for this demographic, and studies show that physical ads leave a lasting impression on both younger and older demographics.14 A truly potent marketing campaign incorporates both digital and print tactics, allowing mail to garner interest and move consumers closer to purchase, be it in-store or online.

Ideas Worth Implementing: Give customers the opportunity to engage with your brand by allowing them to respond to mail via digital channels.
Informed Delivery® campaigns, for example, not only provide customers with digital previews of their physical mail, but can also include complementary digital offers such as an internet promo code for an item being advertised in your mailpiece.

In Conclusion

Although Millennials are digital natives, it doesn’t take futuristic marketing to drive sales. In fact, digital advertisements have a limited effect on this age group. As the media landscape changes and Millennials continue to come into their own, companies will have to become more attuned to the most potent marketing tactics for this generation—direct mail included.

Why Personalization May Help You Win with Millennials

Personalization is the act of leveraging data and personal information to deliver individualized messages to prospects and current customers. As a marketing tool, it’s obviously not new; it’s been a driving force in promotion for years. However, millennials are changing the way we think about personalized marketing.

Personalization can be an effective method for drawing in and retaining millennials. This generation grew up in the digital age, curating its own content on social media platforms. They love DIY curation websites, where they can scour the web for ideas and contact a merchant to help them bring custom creations to life.

For millennials, personalized marketing can help drive loyalty and purchasing decisions. In fact, a survey by Access Development1 found only 12 percent of millennial respondents had an active dislike for marketing communications, which is unlike previous generations of buyers. An NPD Group survey2 showed that while older millennials use more loyalty apps and shop at big-box national retailers, younger millennials prefer specialty stores and buying wholesale.

Millennials are also more open to giving out personal information—especially if they get something in return. According to research from Aimia3, half of millennials would share personal details to join a rewards program, while 36 percent of millennials would do so to gain access to a website.


The information age makes personalization even more personal. It seems a fair trade-off; if someone offers a business their personal info, the business should use it with care and specificity. Here’s what marketers should keep in mind to meet millennials where they are—and where they’d like to be:

Market with Personalization in Mind

Personalizing goods and services for the millennial crowd takes more than just attaching a name to an email or a direct mail flier. If we examine the rise of customizable menus in fast-casual restaurants, which allow its patrons to craft their own custom food creations, we see that many customers enjoy having more personalized options. A survey from Bond4 found that 55 percent of U.S. millennials would like access to personalized experiences and services that huge companies don’t have the bandwidth to provide.

Small and medium-sized businesses can take these lessons and apply the strategies to their own marketing campaigns. To entice the millennial consumer, customization may be the key. Companies can present options, though not too many, to appeal to the principles this value-driven generation loves. This is a shared trait between younger and older millennials; a Cone Communications poll5 showed that 92 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds and 91 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds would be willing to switch to brands associated with good causes.

The rise in popularity of curated subscription box services – from makeup to collectibles to pet supplies – is a perfect example of successful personalization in marketing. A beauty company has subscribers fill out a profile that asks basic questions about skin tone, type, and personal style. Based on the answers, it mails out five samples on a monthly basis. Subscribers try them out and have the option to buy full sizes of items they love.

Enhance Your Strategy

Small and medium-sized businesses should consider weaving personalization into their marketing, from the services they offer to their direct mail campaigns. Remember, what worked in the past may still be effective, but you may have to rethink your strategy and focus on tailored, individualized content for a crowd that expects customization and big value.

Consider what happened not too long along when a late night comedy host was taking potshots at politicians who sent mass emails with the respondent’s name in the tag. It pretended to be personal, but once you read a line or two, it was obviously just another form letter. Don’t fall into the trap of pretending to be personal—it’s important to actually engage with your consumer on a personal level.

Are you ready to personalize your direct mail for millennials? Check out “Reaching Millennials: The Role of DM.” It’s an informative guide that may help businesses bridge the communication gap—and generation gap—with millennial consumers.