Millennials Exhibit Positive Attitudes Toward Mail

Unlearn the idea that mail is unigenerational and relearn that mail is for all generations.

Thu Mar 18 09:02:00 EDT 2021
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Millennials Exhibit Positive Attitudes Toward Mail

This past weekend, I asked my niece -- a Millennial -- a question: “Describe the most valuable pieces of mail you and your husband recently received.”

After a slight pause, she reeled off the contents of a “new mother” offer package (she is a new mom), a home improvement magazine offer (they’re renovating), an attractive financial product from her bank, and several checks. She summarized her thinking: “When it’s relevant, it’s valuable.”

This “sample of one” confirmed recent research by the USPS indicating that Millennials, through the COVID-19 pandemic, are sending and receiving more mail – and paying more attention to it. In fact, over half of Millennials now think receiving mail is more essential than ever, according to Pitney Bowes research. More specifically, all younger generations, particularly Millennials, indicate that they are likely to continue to mail more personalized letters in the next year or two.

What about statements and bills in the mail? Are Millennials going digital?

First, regarding Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation, a recent Pitney Bowes study indicated that these groups value receiving physical statements/bills in the mail because they are easier to review before paying, easier to find billing errors, and serve as reminders to make the payment. And these same two generations like paying statements/bills via a “check in the mail” because it’s better for record keeping, easier to keep track of payments made, and a guarantee that you don’t miss a payment.

Much more surprising, our research showed that digitally native Millennials value physical statements also, with nearly half preferring to receive both physical and digital statements. It is interesting to note that only 1 in 3 Millennials like to receive digital mail exclusively; 2 in 3 Millennials prefer physical mail or a combination of both physical and digital mail.  A digital/physical combination is the ultimate in ease, convenience and record keeping. Paying bills is another matter. Across all generations in our research, half prefer to pay bills online.

The most startling generational differences are with “Marketing Mail.”

In the RARC report: Millennials and the Mail, USPS found a strong interest in “Marketing Mail” (also called “direct mail advertising”), impacted by greater frequency of Millennials working from home:

  • 84% of Millennials take the time to look through their mail and 64% would rather look for ‘useful info’ in the mail than from emails 
  • 87% of Millennials like receiving Marketing Mail
  • 77% of Millennials pay attention to Marketing Mail
  • 90% of Millennials think Marketing Mail is reliable

We’ve also confirmed, from primary research conducted by Pitney Bowes, that Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X have all been sending and receiving more mail (personalized letters, cards, packages) since the COVID-19 pandemic started. Millennials and Gen X are significantly more “happy to receive” the following types of Marketing Mail (vs. their older counterparts):

  • Coupons from local businesses
  • Promotional mail from companies they’ve purchased from
  • Promotional mail from companies they know but don’t typically buy from

Importantly, 2 in 3 have taken some actions from promotional mail such as marking pages on catalogs for later, making purchases or visiting websites.

Marketing Mail Drives Behavior

Besides positively impacting consumer attitudes, Marketing Mail is effective in driving action, such as a purchase, donation, website visit, social media site visit or in-store visit. 71% of consumers acted when they received a coupon, 63% acted after receiving a catalog from a brand they previously purchased from, and over 50% acted on brands that were new or not familiar to them. As noted above, younger consumers are most influenced by Marketing Mail, significantly exceeding the general population. During the pandemic, Marketing Mail has also driven more online purchasing, a topic for a future “Mail Works” article.

Election “Marketing Mail” volumes surged in 2020. By the end of October, total mail volume of political and election mail tracked surpassed 4.5 billion pieces, representing an increase of 114% compared to the 2016 election cycle and a significant drive to younger Millennials voters.

Mail is “Omni-Generational”

Not all mail is created equal. Just as my niece pointed out, “When it’s relevant, it’s valuable.” Attitudes toward Marketing Mail, and mail overall, are stronger when businesses and Marketers use data-driven mail approaches that increase relevance -- just as we would do for digital marketing efforts. With the growing volume of data at our disposal, we continue to drive relevance and consumer behavior with mail. We need to unlearn the idea that mail is unigenerational and relearn that mail is for all generations, especially Millennials.