Don’t write off Gen Z


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It’s no secret, marketing’s obsession with the new. As a result, more traditional tools and techniques are overlooked despite still being very relevant. Direct mail is a case in point. And a new study shows why…

Gen Z, whippersnappers born between 1997 and 2012, currently aged between nine and 24 accounting for 12.6 million people in the UK or 19 per cent of the population. As increasing numbers enter the workforce this demographic is growing in terms of its purchasing power and is therefore an important audience for brands wanting to engage and build long term relationships with this valuable consumer group.

Now, we all know that Gen Z is connected. In fact they consume the most digital content of all the demographics – an average of 10.6 hours a day, often using multiple devices at the same time.

It stands to reason therefore that brands should reach out to Gen Z using digital media. But, research reveals that this is not necessarily the case.

In fact, Gen Z is more likely to engage with direct mail marketing campaigns, than any other media. Who’d have thought that mail media, traditionally seen as a medium preferred by older demographic groups, would be captivating this young audience?

The report, Driving Effectiveness with Direct Mail, is based on 218 UK campaigns which used direct mail as the lead media or in the marketing mix. The research was carried out by World Advertising Research Centre (WARC) and Royal Mail Marketreach.

It found that 35 per cent of the campaigns targeting Gen Z that use direct mail recorded an ROI benefit, compared with just 23 per cent for the UK average across all marketing campaigns.

The report deems the physical nature of direct mail as the root cause of this, saying it captures both sensory and mental attention of readers, averaging an engagement rate of 95 per cent.

Contrary to common understanding, it’s the digitally native Gen Z among whom physical mail is the most popular. It is thought that this is because Gen Z has grown-up with digital communications and so, for this group, physical mail presents something unique and – new. The excitement of receiving a brand communication through the mail is akin to the enjoyment experienced by Gen X when they received a birthday card through the mail. It is novel and exhilarating.

When surveyed, nearly nine out of 10 Gen Z participants said they preferred a blend of physical and digital marketing; 42 per cent have gone online after receiving direct mail; and 84 per cent have scanned in a QR code from mail to interact with a charity or brand online.

What this shows us is the versatility of the mail. Ultimately, for brands that want to appeal to a young audience, reaching them in a way which is unexpected pays dividends. That doesn’t mean that digital media should be booted out of the party – quite the reverse. It would be folly to relinquish share of voice in the channels that the audience is consuming, but through smart planning mail can provide that added spark which leads to greater engagement, longer term relationships and bottom line results.

Richard Calvert
Richard is the co-founder of The Thread Team and Marketing Strategist. The Thread Team is a data-driven agency with a difference. It is founded on the modern working practices and the latest technology. The Thread Team has no physical headquarters, instead its global team members connect daily with each other and clients using various web enabled comms platforms. This flexible structure means that The Thread team is able to offer clients the very best talent – no matter where they live, their personal circumstances or their stage of life.


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