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Print Marketing Preferences by Generation

April 8, 2021 In Marketing Tips

They say age is just a number, but the truth is, the generation you were born into can have a significant effect on your eventual behaviors and habits. In our country, the consumers categorized as Generation X, Millennials and Gen Z all vary in the way they typically communicate with others and the features they care about in a product or service. 

Though these groups all have different mindsets and priorities, one thing remains the same across generations: their favorable response to direct mail. Keep reading to find out how print marketing preferences have evolved through the decades and learn how to reach each generation most effectively. 

Generation X 

Though Generation X is jokingly referred to as the “neglected” generation, these adults have the second-highest spending power of any generation at $357 billion annually – so they deserve your attention. Generation X is made up of Americans born between 1965 and 1980, which means some members are becoming empty nesters and most are well established in their careers. Because many Gen Xers are busy juggling parenting, homeownership and other responsibilities, direct mail can be an effective way to reach them, as most are already used to checking their mail for bills or other important documents. According to a study from InnoMedia, 68 percent of Generation X has redeemed offers they received in the mail. 

Despite their cynical reputation, Generation X has actually been found to be the most brand loyal of any current generation. When sending these consumers messages through direct mail, focus on promoting your loyalty program front and center. If you don’t offer a loyalty program, consider highlighting your company’s history or reputation for quality products or services to show that you are a reliable brand. If your company can consistently offer high value and appealing rewards, Gen Xers will come back to your brand over and over. 

Because Generation X tends to have more disposable income than other groups, you may think that they’re less drawn to price-based promotions. However, this generation is still a budget-conscious group. They’ve lived through multiple recessions and are now likely saving for retirement or their kids’ education. A report from Valassis found 93% of Gen Xers used a coupon in the past year, so if you want to get your foot in the Generation X door, attractive offers can be a very effective way to do that. 


Did you know that Millennials have now become the generation with the most members active in the work force? Most research centers define Millennials as those born between 1981 and 1996, which means the youngest members will turn 25 this year, and the oldest are approaching middle age. Millennials are known as the generation that came of age during the digital revolution – they can remember the pre-cell phone days, but they’ve used smartphones for most of their adult lives. You might think they would heavily prefer digital marketing channels, but according to Imbue Creative, 90 percent of Millennials prefer direct mail over email marketing. Don’t underestimate just how helpful print marketing may be in reaching this consumer group.  

Though data indicates Millennials do pay attention to direct mail, this group has also become increasingly reliant on online shopping channels. If you want to reach this key audience, it’s incredibly important to integrate your print and digital messages. According to findings from Synchrony Financial, 90 percent of all Millennials research product reviews online before making a purchase. For help getting started linking your digital and print materials, you can read our article here. It will also be helpful to include customer testimonials or past reviews, since Millennials place such a high value on their peers’ opinions. Knowing that others trust your brand may be all the validation they need to decide to purchase  

Gen Z 

Born in the late 1990s through the early 2010s, most of Gen Z does not remember a world without cell phones or high-speed Internet access. Though the oldest Gen Zers are still in their early 20s, this generation will one day represent the largest segment of US consumers, giving them a growing power in the economy. This generation, known to be the most tech-savvy, is still surprisingly reachable by print marketing methods. According to a study from the Direct Marketing Association, Gen Z’s direct mail response rate was between 10 and 30 percent higher than their email marketing response rate. Before you go all in on digital-only marketing methods, consider how print could effectively reach this group. 

Already, Gen Z has shown a high level of interest in budget-friendly purchases. Sixty-five percent of them see a value in looking for coupons, discounts and reward programs for the products they buy. These promotions, which are often successfully distributed via direct mail, could be the spark Gen Zers need to give your brand a try. However, studies also show Gen Z’s attention span is a full 4 seconds shorter than previous generations, so you’ll have to earn their interest quickly in order to get your message across. Make sure your most important message is printed in the largest text on the page and use bold colors or designs to draw the eye to your offer.