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Don’t Throw the Newspaper Out With the Bathwater: Print Media and Generation Y

Print and news inserts are effective for salesWhile most marketers think that the only way to reach the (roughly) 18-35 age demographic is through sleek social media campaigns, it turns out that print media is still a completely viable way to market to Generation Y. In fact, print media may affect young adults’ purchasing decisions more that web-based advertising. This article shares some surprising news about Millennials’ print media habits, and how you can use them to your business’ advantage.

Young Adults Still Reading Print!

It remains true that the young adults of Generation Y are the biggest users of social networking sites: last year, Pew Internet reported that 92% of those in the 18-29 age group frequent sites like Facebook and Twitter, compared to the 73% of runners-up in the 30-49 group. It might be tempting to take that information and talk yourself and your business out of launching a print media campaign targeting Millenials, since if young adults are the tech-savviest, they’re probably not likely to pick up a newspaper, right?

Turns out you’d be wrong – and missing out on a huge opportunity! Also last year, NPR reported on another Pew study, which found that nearly a quarter of 18-24 year olds surveyed had read a newspaper in the past 24 hours. And magazine readership in this group is continuing to go up, according to a recent Conde Nast survey. Okay, sure, some kids are reading newspapers and magazines these days – but probably way less than the older populations, right?

Gen Y and Older Readership Remains Similar

Wrong again! When you look at “heavy” newspaper readers, or those who have read over 25 newspapers in the past 28 days, there’s a bit of a discrepancy – 8% of the 18-24 bracket versus 20% of all adults responded as having read that many papers. But when it comes to “mid-to-light” readership, the numbers even out. Out of those who said they’d read between 4 and 15 newspapers in the past month, there was only a 5% difference between the older and younger generations. Out of those who’d read 1-3 papers, there was a 7% difference. And out of everyone who said that they had read zero newspapers in the past month, only 4% more young adults answered in the affirmative!

This past December, the Atlantic reported on yet another Pew study. In this one, the researchers ascertained that the number of people reading their news on tablets or mobile devices were consistent among generational gaps. Barring seniors, according to the Atlantic, “between 30 and 50 percent of every demographic […] uses mobile phones and tablets to read news.” In other words, young adults aren’t fleeing from print media, at least when it comes to newspapers and magazines – that trend applies to all demographics.

In short, there’s no reason to think that a print media ad campaign aimed at twentysomethings and others in the Gen Y age group will go unread. You’re just as likely to hit your target of improving sales among young adults through a print media run as you are among older generations. Not convinced that print media campaigns targeted towards young adults deliver? Maybe this will sway you…

Millennials Swayed To Shop By Print

With young adults constantly tapping away on tablets and mobile phones, you might think that online ads and email campaigns would generate more sales than traditional print media sales efforts. And, once more (sorry!), you’d be incorrect.

A December ’12 Valassis survey found that while digital ad campaigns are important to reaching those of Generation Y, print media also has a huge influence on their spending habits. In fact, Millennials often use print media to save money on online shopping, or to find products that interest them!

Here are a few statistics to prove the point:

  • 60% of Millennials said they’d cut their shopping spending if they didn’t look at newspaper inserts
  • 91% said they use print coupons, ads, and sale notices to save money
  • 51% said print ads inspire them to make a purchase
  • 30% said they go online to find more information about a product after seeing it in a print ad
  • a whopping 87% use print ads to select which restaurants to eat at
  • 84% find coupons and discounts on clothing in print ads, and 71% shop ads to find the best price for apparel

To put some of these numbers in perspective, Valassis found that 86% of people in this age bracket visited Facebook on a daily basis.

To further put these numbers in perspective, consider the fact that, according to AdAge, only 1% of people who “Like” a brand on Facebook ever interact with that brand through social media. Last year, BaseOne also found that while twentysomethings are more likely to use social media in deciding what products to buy, social media remained the lowest-ranked method for making a decision when it comes to buying a product.

Don’t Throw The Digital Campaign Out With the Bathwater, Either

All that said, digital campaigns remain extremely important when it comes to reaching out to Millennials. For many marketing thought leaders, the biggest suggestion in terms of using print media to generate sales among Generation Y is to integrate traditional print and digital media.

How? A blog post on Evins.com quotes a marketing strategist at Parker Avery who suggests using a print ad that leads to a larger digital experience. Whether through a QR code or an SMS touchpoint, print ads can easily incorporate a call to action that combines the digitally inclined habits of young adults with their reliance on print media to learn about sales and discounts.

Print isn’t dead, but it’s up to marketers to figure out a way to carry traditional media along into a world that is more and more governed by social media and cross-platform digital experiences.

Do you still use print ads? Have you used print media to generate interest in your online sales?