Just a few years ago, the U.S. Census Bureau reported the number of millennials (born 1981 to 1996) had surpassed baby boomers (1965 to 1980) by 83.1 million to 75.4 million, respectively. Generation Z, also simply known as Gen Z (after 1996), is creeping closer to the age where they will be making purchases. Business Insider estimates 82 million consumers will be part of this age group in 2026. And let’s not forget about Gen X (1965 to 1980). They’ll still comprise a good portion of the consumer population, at an estimated 65 million.
As time goes on, some generational populations will decrease while others inflate, so it’s important to learn how to market to each using direct mail.
This helpful guide instructs how to use direct mail for each generation.
Direct mail has always been a part of the baby boomer generation’s purchasing experience. They received trusted information about their credit cards, bills, and insurance through the mail. They scoured catalogs to find the perfect piece of furniture for their home, and flipped through a brochure to find out the latest fashion trends.
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) consumer and markets insights presentation “Review of Mail Moments” reported 88 percent of boomers agreed with the statement “I take time to look through my mail” and 83 percent assented to “I really value reliability of mail.” A majority of baby boomers also stated they would rather have a paper bill than digital.
Data marketing company Epsilon’s “Age Matters: A Guide to Cross-Generational Marketing” researched the similarities and differences across generations, including behaviors and preferences. It defines baby boomers as active spenders. They’re generally approaching retirement, have money to spend, and purchase premium brands. These characteristics should frame your message to this age group.
Baby boomers often view purchases as investments, so you should convey the long-term value and provide customer loyalty offers. Add personalized elements to ensure they feel important to your brand. Ensure you’ve written your message in clear, easy-to-read language and incorporated an identifiable call to action (CTA). Although they are an older generation, they don’t want to feel as such. Keep the design crisp and clean, plus use images with age-appropriate models enjoying time with loved ones.
According to Epsilon’s guide, Gen X is often ignored by marketers, however, they spend the next highest amount after boomers, at $357 billion annually. Generation X’s characteristics and behaviors typically fall between those of the millennial and baby boomer generations.
Sixty percent of Gen Xers pick up the mail at least six days a week and 57 percent review, read or sort through it at least six days per week. According to the USPS study, 72 percent typically receive bills through the mail.
This age group is at the height of their careers, making the highest income they may make. They balance this with having children and caring for their families. This means they’re busy, so keep your message short and to the point. Ensure your CTA is clear. When marketing to Gen X, keep in mind this group is redefining age. They’re living healthier lifestyles and staying active, so incorporate images that reflect this. Because the age bracket has lived through multiple recessions, they’re often skeptical and cautious about purchases or investments. You must earn their trust by being transparent and authentic.
Although many believe millennials are glued to their smartphone screens, the generation is often looking for opportunities to break from this. Direct mail is one way for them to hold and view something tangible.
The age group has proven to utilize and welcome mail. According to the aforementioned “Review of Mail Moments,” 86 percent of millennials are most likely to pick up the mail at first opportunity, and 92 percent personally sort it. A USPS survey also found that a majority of millennials said receiving mail makes them feel special.
The USPS created a guide titled “Still Relevant: A Look at How Millennials Respond to Direct Mail” to help companies understand why millennials respond to mail and how to create an appealing mail piece. It suggests combining multimedia and digital with print. Utilize QR codes or augmented reality to transfer the experience from the mail piece to the internet. Your messaging should be authentic, as well as short and easy to read. Try to avoid slang, as it could turn the audience off. Millennials are drawn to campaigns that donate a portion of the profits to a particular cause, so, if it feels right for your company, support a nonprofit.
“Use retargeted direct mail to match customers’ IP addresses to their physical addresses,” states the study. “This allows you to follow up with personalized direct mail based on users’ actions on your website, mobile app, email or social media.”
The Epsilon study found Gen Z adults spend more than any other generation per year splurging on expensive products in stores because they like the speed and immediacy.
“They mainly spend on retail, restaurants and entertainment,” it states. “Not surprisingly, Gen Z spends more with industry disruptors such as Uber, Airbnb, Netflix, Spotify and iTunes—demonstrating their comfort with tech and a desire for personalized experiences.”
They also heavily rely on the opinions and reviews of celebrities and influencers, so you may want to incorporate some into your campaign. Plus, they have their own influential clout with their parents and grandparents in the older generations. So, when you’re marketing to Gen Z, the information will carry through the household. Generation Z is the most ethnically diverse generation in history and the most open-minded, so keep this in mind when crafting your message. The youngest age group also wants an extremely personalized experience, so you must use variable data printing to customize individual mail pieces at scale.
Ensure your marketing campaign reaches every age group with the messages they want to receive. Design Distributors can help you develop the perfect campaign for every generation. Contact us or get a free quote today.