The digital age was supposed to be end of print. It’s considered greener, more cost effective and simply a preferred mode of communication. Given the increasing amount of time spent online—reading, messaging, researching and purchasing—it seems like a reasonable assumption that the demand for direct mail would be withering away.
It isn’t. Companies are using direct mail smarter, including using special effects screen printing to drive up response rates.
Growth in Direct Mail
The direct mail industry continues to see increasing revenues. According to the Winterberry Group, after increasing 2.9% in 2015, industry revenues should reach $47 billion in 2016. This is partly due to the presidential election and the Olympics, but other factors are driving direct mail’s continued use—it literally touches consumers in ways that digital communication can’t.
Seeing is Believing, But Touching Enhances Value
Dr. David Eagleman, host of the PBS series, The Brain, has explained it quite simply in his videos, “Unlike sight and hearing which operate at a distance, our sense of touch provides a very up-close and personal way of interacting with the world. With 2,000 sensory receptors in our fingertips alone, it’s little wonder that so much of our brain is devoted to tactile sensations and associations.”
The Endowment Effect
Those tactile associations have been found to be strong enough to trigger what those who study neuroscience refer to as the “Endowment Effect.” Experiments over the decades have shown the result of this effect—a sense of ownership—leads to valuing something that feels as though it belongs to you more highly than you would otherwise. It’s such a strong sensation that even holding a piece of mail can trigger the feeling of ownership, especially if it is pleasing to the touch.
Since just holding something endows it with a higher value, the message it contains has also been found to be more memorable. Even the sender is viewed as caring more than if they had simply sent a texted coupon or emailed an announcement about an upcoming same.
Adding Value to Print
Businesses are finding that sales decrease when marketing is restricted to online only. In fact, retailers like Land’s End have found that approximately 75% of online purchases take place after a consumer looks through a printed catalog as reported in Rebecca Ruiz’s New York Times article, Catalogs, After Years of Decline, are Revamped for Changing Times.
Being tactile, it turns out, is a smart revenue-generating tactic.