Submitted by: Print Power 13/09/2017
You may think the average millennial is glued to their smartphone, but they are just as likely to be reading a print magazine or newspaper. And when it comes to marketing, they still love the printed page.
Article taken from Print Power Magazine Issue 13
Author: Rebecca Waller-Davies
“While globally they spend less time with traditional media, Gen Z is consistently more positive about ad formats such as outdoor, print ads and cinema than standard digital alternatives” Jane Ostler, UK Managing Director for Media & Digital, Kantar Millward Brown.
If each generations criticised by the one that came before it, then today’s millennials are in an unenviable position. According to a plethora of pundits, this generation is addicted to their smartphones and unable to read anything but a social media feed for more than 30 seconds. It’s easy to assume that digital natives have failed to pick up non-digital habits, but this assumption is flawed.
Facts not myths
Millennials, like the rest of the population, may always seem glued to their phones, but evidence suggests that they are increasingly taking a self-imposed break from the internet. Ofcom found that, of the 1,861 teenagers and adults it surveyed in 2016, those 24 years old or younger were the most likely to embark on a digital detox, with just over 40% saying they had purposely switched off from the internet.
And across Europe, 72% of millennials say that they read a print product on a typical day. That’s around the same proportion as their parents (73% of Gen-Xers do the same) and their grandparents (71% of Boomers), showing that print-reading habits are alive and well. Put these two statistics together and a very different idea to the smartphone-addicted millennial emerges. Instead, this generation pick and choose and mix and match across media, crafting the information age to their own agenda.
Newsworks CEO Vanessa Clifford dismisses the idea that millennials don’t read print. “It is a myth that young people are not engaged in print media,” she says. “They are very similar to other generations in what they read and the platforms they read it on. They just tend to use online media more than other demographics.” Clifford also supports the idea that millennials mix and match across different media, pointing to a study by Newsworks and the University of Bath that found that in every generation, readers consumed content in five different modes: Fix, Track, Fill, Indulge and Invest. Fix (accessing content constantly), Track (keeping up to date with a breaking story) and Fill (accessing content to pass the time) were digital-centric activities. But Indulge (content as a break) and Invest (getting an in-depth perspective on a specific issue) were print-centric.
These findings strike a chord with marketing leadership expert Thomas Barta. The former partner at global management consultancy firm McKinsey is the author of bestseller The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader and coaches Chief Marketing Officers around the world.
“To me, it’s not about being a millennial or not being a millennial,” he says. “Everyone wants new, fast and short from online. For print it’s the other way around. It’s a break from all that. It is to digest, to iterate, and that counts for young people too.”He adds that, because print functions more slowly, readers are more exposed to messages from advertisers and marketers. “You spend more timing reading a magazine,” he says. “It’s a slower medium and your message may be visible for longer.”
“Across Europe, 72% of millennials say that they read a print product on a typical day.”
The science bit
All this is good news for those hoping to communicate with millennials via print and the advertising within print products. And the data is backed up by compelling scientific evidence. In 2007, Royal Mail wanted to assess if direct mail was still effective, so commissioned Kantar Millward Brown to work with scientists from the Centre of Experimental Psychology at Bangor University. The results were astounding.
Participants were shown a number of adverts already in the market, both on screen and printed onto cards, to assess how they reacted to visual and physical stimuli. Again and again, the scientists found that the physical, tangible material left a “deeper footprint” in the brain. Physical material was found to be more “real”, generating more emotionally vivid memories and provoking a greater internal emotional response to outside stimuli.
Essentially, the adverts on cards were more internalised by the subjects – gold dust to any brand or marketer – and happily for those marketing via print, this innate power coincides with a self-selected preference for print advertising over digital.
Another Kantar Millward Brown study surveyed 23,000 consumers across 39 different countries. When asked which advertising format they liked better, millennials preferred print. Globally, 51% and 55% of generations Z and Y said they responded well to magazine display advertising, but this plummeted to 30% and 34% for mobile display advertising. “Despite their digitally dominated media consumption, Gen Z can still be impressed by traditional media,” says Jane Ostler, Kantar Millward Brown UK Managing Director for Media & Digital. “While globally they spend less time with traditional media, Gen Z is consistently more positive about ad formats such as outdoor, print, cinema, TV and radio than standard digital alternatives.” So millennials are primed to respond to print advertising. But capitalising on that is where it gets tricky.
The next challenge
Millennials are known to value brand authenticity and dislike a hard sell. In the US, Boston Consulting Group found that, for millennials, brands being ‘authentic’ was second only to loyalty discounts. The brands that are most successful with millennials know this.
German etailer Zalando is a case in point. In addition to its own print magazine, co-chief executive Rubin Ritter highlighted Zalando’s decision to raise awareness in its burgeoning UK market via print advertising last autumn. And Zalando is now choosing to target the millenial market much more aggressively, choosing rapper A$AP Rocky as the mainstay of its spring/summer 2017 campaign.
Fashion etailer ASOS also targets millennials with a laser focus, with ASOS magazine high on its list of priorities. Launched in 2006, it now has a circulation of 450,000 and features A-list cover stars such as Taylor Swift. “We want to be more than just a shop,” ASOS’s Head of Commercial Kate Whitelock said recently. “We want to offer great products to our customers but also inspire them with content across fashion and beauty as well as entertainment and lifestyle.” With print, you already have the attention of the millennial. The next battle is connecting with them.
See other articles taken from the Print Power magazine: