Within the next few years, my generation—Millennials (those born from 1980-2000)—will move into our peak spending years. The Inspector General of the United States Postal Service recently advised mailers and marketers to consider how best to market to this age group along with the other generations who are “Digital Natives.” And by “Digital Natives,” he means those of us who grew up with computers in the home and don’t know how to read a folding map.
You’d think that after growing up with a smartphone attached to our hips and carpal tunnel from texting (seriously—a pal from high school was in a cast for weeks), that my generation would find mail to be outdated and ineffective, but research is showing the opposite. Overall, studies found there is not only a perceived need by Digital Natives for mail, but a strong emotional connection that has created a great want for it. This correlates with the recent Mail Moment study,which reported that 56% of consumers say receiving mail is a real pleasure and 55% look forward to receiving mail.
In other words, we love getting mail.
It’s true there’s an ease and quickness to everything you do online. For the most part, technology has become the easy-out of adulthood. Chores like paying bills have been vanquished by smartphones. (You can be responsible, and you don’t even have to get off the couch!) But one of mail’s greatest strengths isn’t what it can do for you, but what it does to you.
Mail is one of the last frontiers of meaningful communication without face-to-face interaction. A piece of mail is the physical proof that you are worth someone’s time and money—two things Millennials like to avoid spending. Technology and other “you don’t have to get off the couch” enabling devices have conditioned Millennials to actively avoid spending time and money. So when we see it being spent so freely on us—even on something as seemingly nondescript as tire coupons—we recognize it.
There’s effort in mail, from printing the message to opening the envelope, and for a generation that has thrived on a world made effortless, that’s pretty remarkable. The amount of work that goes into producing a letter immediately makes it more important. In fact, it makes the reader feel more important. It says “we want your attention because you’re special; you’re worth the effort.” And when you feel special, it’s hard not to feel loved.
So in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, send some lovin’ through the mailbox with a beautifully sappy card (and maybe some chocolates) to your partners and pals. They’ll be so thrilled, it’ll make you blush.
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