Generation Y. Echo Boomers. Digital Natives. Millennials.

Whatever you decide to call us, you might have a misconception of our impact in the marketplace. Over the next few years, Millennials will make up the largest buying demographic in the world, which means it’s important that your association keeps up with the transition in influence.

As a Millennial, I know – we’re those kids who know what we want and that we want it now. We’re “so deeply connected” through social media, text messaging, and email that we become disconnected with the outside world, hence we live in a “digital world.” But, don’t pigeon-hole us just yet. While most of us are glued to our phones (and it’s not just our generation either), you will still catch us with our faces inside of books and magazines. Technology might be our first language, but traditional print still plays a significant role in our lives.

Data has proven that Millennials lead other generations in reading and still generally prefer print to digital. Sure, digital formats are more sustainable, more up-to-date, and easier to find considering it’s all on one device, but it doesn’t beat the value of a physical piece. More than half of Millennials are notorious for ignoring digital advertising and paying more attention to direct mail and print advertising (Quad Graphics).

In a study done by the TRU, a division of TNS Research Global, more than three-quarters of Millennials see paper being more official, more trusted, easier to keep confidential, and more secure. As far as preference for paper over digital, books and magazines are preferred in physical form by over 70 percent of those surveyed! The study by Quad Graphics also states “it’s important to note that people have a multi-sensory connection with paper that is unique to printed matter. People prefer the touch, look, and even smell of books, newspapers, and other print, which makes the paper you choose all the more important.”

The TRU study goes on to show how we have emotional ties to physical print. Who wouldn’t prefer a birthday card in the mail over an email or a Facebook post? Eighty-seven percent of Millennials prefer the birthday card, 57 percent would rather receive a mailed invitation over an e-vite, and 55 percent would rather get a handwritten letter than an email. Whether it’s for business or pleasure, we’re usually reading something – books, magazines, blogs – and when we do it, the majority of our generation still leans toward print.

So, why does all of this matter? Within the vast Millennial pool are your next generation of members. Print marketing doesn’t have to be expensive if it is well planned and targeted. Consider these ideas:

  • Send physical renewal pieces to your members when it’s time to renew.
  • Spruce up your current publication or add a publication as a member benefit. Don’t forget a digital version, however, so that members and potential members can consume your content how they want, when they want.
  • Send personalized paper invitations to members for local chapter or annual events.
  • When you meet new colleagues at conferences, send them a handwritten note thanking them for their time. (In my experience, I’ve found that whenever I send a postcard to someone, I almost always get a reply – it works!)

Knowing what makes this generation tick is important in keeping your association current. And, just when you think you’ve got Millennials figured out, in will come our younger siblings. Stay tuned for Generation Z….

Article written by:

McKenzie Decker

Marketing Manager