Direct Mail and Millennials: The Perfect Match?

Direct Mail and Millennials: The Perfect Match?

It’s time to do a reality check on Millennials – not just when it comes to direct mail, but in regards to lots of things surrounding who they are and how they live.

First, Millennials are no longer a bunch of bohos living in one-bedroom studios and eating ramen while trying to figure out how to pay their student loans. They’re having kids, moving to the suburbs, taking cruises, buying cars, and in general starting to act a lot more like their parents than anyone – especially them – is willing to admit.

As far the having-kids thing goes, MediaPost wrote recently, “Bank of America notes that sales of pregnancy tests are up by an average of 13% year-over-year, compared to average growth of 2% from 2016-2019. Live births increased 3.3% in June, the highest increase since 2013. And in a recent survey, 11.3% of respondents said they were expecting a child or trying to conceive, the highest rate in the year that the survey has fielded.”

As for cars, according to The New York Times, “in 2020 millennials bought more new cars than any other age group, accounting for 32% of total new-car sales, edging out baby boomers for the first time.”

Research from Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection has shown that Millennials are copying their parents’ travel habits, taking cruises and tours and spending 64% more on travel than the general public.

And now, for direct mail.

Millennials really like direct mail. According to the United States Postal Service, almost two-thirds of Millennial survey respondents said they engage with their mail for more than 13 minutes. That’s more time spent with mail than any other age group.

In fact, Millennials are shaping up as the “sweet spot” for organizations who use direct mail.

Why is that?

Several big reasons, namely:

Traditional behaviors

As mentioned earlier, Millennials are way more like their parents than anyone would care to admit – and they’re becoming much more like their parents as time goes on.

It was a misconception that Millennials didn’t want their parents’ lifestyle; they just couldn’t afford it at the time. Now, as the specter of student debt recedes ever-so-slightly in the rearview mirror, Millennials are taking to the old ways with a gusto.

Part of that means looking to see what’s in the mailbox every day.

This is great news for direct-mail marketers, but it isn’t a blank check to keep business as usual. Millennials have different cultural touchstones than their older counterparts (think Toy Story versus Star Wars), and show signs of being more price-conscious as well.

Being digital-native or nearly so, they’re also more likely to respond to things like QR codes or other electronic/paper hybrids. Sustainable mailings will also appear to them, but not as much as they appeal to Gen Z.

Life stage

As mentioned earlier, Millennials are in that home-buying, kid-having stage, and that means they’ll respond well to deals and offers that recognize their life stage.

In other words, mail from real-estate agents and life-insurance companies is good; mail from retirement planners is not as good, even if there’s a steak dinner involved. (Though there are signs that Millennials are exceptionally concerned about retirement planning.)

One particularly important mailing category to consider: coupons. Though some retailers have reported coupon volume decreasing 20% year-over-year, even with digital coupons, all the indicators show that paper coupons should strike a responsive chord with Millennials: They’re interactive media that save Millennials money on things they need in their life stage.

Tactile elements

Millennials have been around sensory overload their entire lives. They’re accustomed to and appreciate marketing messages that engage multiple senses.

Can you add aroma to a mailing? Different feels? Sound? Is it time to revisit product sampling?

If you’re looking to reach Millennials, design your mailing carefully to engage your audience in multiple ways on multiple levels. A direct-mail specialist has the tools and expertise to make it happen.


As part of an overall burnout, Millennials may be burning out on email. For this generation, email perhaps more than any other tool represents the paradigm of a 24/7, always-on workplace.

Millennial managers in particular find that checking email is often the first thing they do in the morning and the last thing they do at night.

To these individuals, direct mail represents a break – a mid-morning cup of tea in a dewy garden.

When crafting direct mail for Millennials, be aware that opening the mail may be a physical release and an escape from email stress. Look to reward, delight, and soothe as well as inform.

Pandemic-related behaviors

Who’s leading the Great Resignation? Yep – Millennials.

The Harvard Business Review found that, “Employees between 30 and 45 years old have had the greatest increase in resignation rates, with an average increase of more than 20% between 2020 and 2021 … Resignations actually decreased for workers in the 20 to 25 age range.”

The sum total of career shifts and working from home is that more Millennials are around to check the mail every day – and they’re actively looking for something engaging in their mailbox.

Realize that your Millennial customers are looking for something to make their day when they check the mail, and work with a direct-mail specialist to give them what they’re looking for.

A couple other things to remember when crafting direct mail for Millennials:

Hone your personas.

Most Millennials aren’t hanging out at Starbucks all day listening to hipster music and drinking soy lattes. They’re working from home, running errands, juggling multiple roles and wondering what’s for dinner tonight. If your customer personas don’t reflect that, it’s time for a refresh.

Rethink how your product or service fits with their lifestyle.

One thing that hasn’t changed with Millennials: They’re not going to change the way they live to accommodate your product. They know there’s way too much choice in the world to have to do that.

If you’ve been marketing the same old stuff the same old way to this market without success, it’s time to dive into the behavior of Millennial customers and meet them at the intersection of your product and their journey. Once you determine that point, then and only then figure out the optimal marketing mix to engage with them.

Be genuine and value-based.

Like the generation that followed them, Millennials are still aspirational and value authenticity, no matter how they may have been buffeted by debt, disease, career upheaval, and personal setbacks. Be real; tell the truth. Lead with your mission.

Direct mail can certainly help with all of that, but it can’t disguise a money grab or provide value when there’s none there. If you’re coming from a good place, direct mail can amplify that, tell the story and deliver unmatched impact. But it can’t make you something you’re not.

Want to make a hit with the burgeoning Millennial audience? Contact us and let’s talk.

By Jim Felhofer 2/14/22


Copyright by JHL Digital Direct. All rights reserved.

Copyright by JHL Digital Direct. All rights reserved.