Selling to Millennials: Amp Up Your Generation Y Marketing

When you think about selling to Millennials – the generation born between 1981 and 1996 – do you picture them engrossed in their smartphones buying off social media? Because of their digital aptitude, it’s easy to assume that this group would see direct mail marketing as “outdated” communication.

Yet, numerous studies demonstrate the best marketing channels for Millennials are not all online. It turns out that personalized, relevant direct mail holds a particular charm for Generation Y.

Let’s delve into this unexpected synergy.

How Millennials React to Direct Mail

Millennials Appreciate Tangibility

Despite growing up during the digital revolution, Millennials appreciate the tangibility of direct mail. According to a USPS study, 84% of Millennials take the time to look through their mail, and 64% prefer to scan for useful information in physical mail rather than email. Millennials place an inherent value on something they can hold, touch, and physically interact with. This tactile experience can lead to a more meaningful connection with the marketing material, creating a deeper brand recall than digital ads. 

Millennials are Fatigued with DigitalMillennials' Fatigue with Digital Marketing Channels

Direct mail provides a refreshing break from the digital concerns that Millennials often face. Today, many Millennials spend much of their day in the overly saturated digital realm. The continuous bombardment from pop-ups, videos, pervasive banners and other digital distractions can become overwhelming for this group, often leading to banner blindness – the act of subconsciously ignoring digital ads. In fact, 80% of people completely ignore paid digital ads altogether.

Direct mail, however, offers a respite from this overload. Receiving a physical piece of mail feels more personal and less intrusive, making it more likely to capture their attention. In fact, Millennials have the most positive feelings for direct mail of any other age group and have the highest response rate to the mail they receive.1

Millennials Seek Trust and Authenticity

With the rise of fake news and digital scams, trust in online content is waning. In contrast, direct mail is often perceived as more trustworthy. A recent survey shows 82% of consumers trust print ads more than digital when making a purchase decision. Additionally, 90% of Millennials say authenticity is important when deciding which brands to do business with, and view a brand that invests in direct mail Millennials trust direct mail more than digitalas more genuine and committed. A further study reveals, 90% of Millennials think direct mail advertising is reliable.

Further studies show that Millennials are less concerned with privacy and security of direct mail than they are with digital communications.2 This trust in print could be why 85% of Millennials take the time to read direct mail, and 75% say being contacted through personal mail makes them feel special.

Generation Y Marketing Preferences

Millennials Prefer an Integrated Approach

Keep in mind that Millennials are still digital crusaders. Combining direct mail with digital touchpoints, such as QR codes, NFC or augmented reality elements can seamlessly link your direct mail piece with online or in-store engagement. Studies show that, as a result of receiving direct mail, the majority of Millennials have:

·       visited brick and mortar stores, 

·       purchased physical products3, and 

·       used paper discounts and coupons.

In fact, Millennials say they are more likely to make a purchase from a company that advertises to them using both direct mail and digital methods.4

Consider a direct mail retargeting campaign for selling to Millennials who may have visited your website but didn’t convert. They will most likely find your direct mail piece more trustworthy than the digital ad or platform that brought them to your website in the first place.

Millennials Expect Personalization  

When reaching millennials through direct mail, personalization can make all the difference. While 69% of millennials say direct mail feels more personal than digital communications, that doesn’t mean you only need to slap the recipient’s name on your mail piece to elicit a response. Millennials want tailored messaging that resonates more deeply.

Millennials are looking for a connection. They need to feel that your brand knows who they are as a person. Think custom imagery that matches their lifestyle, offers that align with their purchase behavior, mail drops timed perfectly to their life events. They also want to know that you align with their values. 74% of Millennials say they are more likely to buy from brands who support the causes they care about.

Biggest Takeaway for Marketers Selling to Millennials

While Millennials have spent much of their lifetimes in the digital era, their affinity for and engagement with direct mail is notably high. For marketers, understanding and leveraging this counterintuitive relationship can result in improved campaign performance and increased return on marketing dollars. The key is being authentic, understanding the audience, and personalizing and customizing for the individual. 

Deeply honed intelligence, such as that provided through SG360°’s Audience Insights, can help uncover this meaningful data on your customers and prospects allowing you to connect with them on a 1:1 basis through direct mail as well as online.

For further inspiration, download the Marketing to Millennials infographic.


1 (2023) “The Future of Direct Mail 2023,” SG360°
2 Ibid
3 Ibid
4 (2020) “USPS Mail Moments: 2020 Review,” United States Postal Service

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