Often there’s an assumption that older generations favour print while millennials gobble up anything digital. Is this accurate and, if so, how does it influence today’s marketing mix? Ellie Morley-Smith, marketing and communications manager at APS Group looks at how millennials are engaging with print versus digital.
More than once in my career I have faced a comment about millennials that caused me to roll my eyes. We’re all glued to our smartphones, never read books and only engage with online advertising.
This is a stereotype and, while stereotypes exist for a reason, it’s important to look at how much this influences the marketing mix, where there can be a temptation to assume that older generations favour print while millennials gobble up anything digital.
As marketers, we must explore new and existing mediums and come up with the perfect blend to capture our audience’s imagination – whoever they might be. But, despite best efforts, it can be easy to rely on these stereotypes. So much so that it’s almost a gamble to target millennials for a print campaign. Sometimes it’s easier to say, ‘look, let’s just play it safe and stick to digital, we know they like that.’
The reality is, millennials do engage with digital. After all, it’s what we’ve grown up on. But we’ve been so used to being swamped with information, we’re now looking for an antidote. This is where printed messages can make a real impact – providing a moment of calm that forces us to stop and absorb.
There is also something pleasing about the physicality of print. It is a lasting piece we can store on our shelves and come back to, and this very much feeds into the trend for things we can see and hold. There’s a reason why sales of vinyl hit a 25-year high last year; and why most of my friends have a polaroid camera. They can stack them on the shelf and pin them to the wall.
The idea of having something tangible that people can return to can be hugely beneficial for marketers trying to create a lasting impression. A promotional brochure that incorporates beautiful design, has thick pages with a matte finish and has been personalised in some way, can have the same feel of a coffee table book. You can pick it up and flick through at any time. You don’t click away from it after a couple of seconds.
Marketing campaigns which draw attention away from a screen have become a differentiator. Maybe that’s why KFC chose magazines and billboards as the primary focus for its FCK response campaign following its chicken shortage crisis. Even Facebook is going for it – using newspapers to publish its apology after the Cambridge Analytica Scandal. The concept of a digital platform using print to advertise is a clear indication that, where print used to be ‘uncool’, it’s now back on the table.
I’m not saying that print should overtake digital, rather that marketers can look to print and digital to create considered campaigns that influence the right people. Most importantly, that we should be thinking about who these people are and how they want to be communicated to. It might even mean that I, the millennial, get a few more door drops.
By Ellie Morley-Smith
Marketing and communications manager
For more insights on the renaissance of print, take a look at APS’s latest industry paper, Time to fix your marketing mix? The renaissance of print explained.