It’s 2018. Baby Boomers are in their sixties, Generation Xers are in their forties, and Millennials are in their thirties. Now Generation Z is on the scene and they are a consumer force to be reckoned with.

While previous generations certainly matter when it comes to marketing, these young people, mostly teenagers at this point, will come to define consumer spending in the coming years. Any marketing strategies which have a shred of hope for success need to take this group of people into consideration.

We are not just talking about a new age of consumer, we are addressing an altogether new consumer. In considering marketing techniques for the coming year, businesses will first need to find strategies to target the emerging Generation Z.

Breaking Down Gen Z By The Numbers

Those from Generation Z were born in the mid-1990’s through the early 2010s, and will comprise about 40% of the consumer market in the years ahead. Though mostly still in their teens, this emerging Generation Z wield as much as $44 billion in discretionary spending. That’s a lot of money they’re spending on products and services.

This is a market that simply can’t be overlooked, and finding the right marketing strategies will be essential for any kind of meaningful success in the coming year. Marketing goals and strategies will be in large part all about figuring out this demographic—how to reach them and what, exactly, they are looking for.

Image of young people.Marketing To Generation Z

Considering the makeup and preferences of Generation Z, the challenges for direct mail can seem daunting. However, many of these same market forces could actually be very positive for direct marketing.

Generation Z consumers have grown up with the internet. From their youth, they understand screens and apps and mobile phones. They think in terms of digital information. Targeting starts with this basic fact.

On the surface, it can seem like the only way to reach Generation Z is through digital marketing. That seems to be the approach many businesses are taking. But direct mail marketing has some distinct advantages over digital marketing.

Actually, the “Four Ps” of marketing communications strategy: price, place, promotion, and product are best managed via direct mail marketing. Rather than relying on digital marketing formats (online ads, emails, etc.) which can get lost in the sea of other information, direct mail marketing lands in the hands of customers and communicates directly the information marketers are trying to convey about a brand.

On top of this, digital marketing has actually hit something of a snag in recent times. Consumers are constantly bombarded with digital advertising to the point that they have built up a mental filter for the ads they see on a constant basis. It’s just too much. With ads appearing on every website, social media platform and app, it’s information overload.

It’s estimated that consumers only see about 9% of the advertising they are exposed to, and even that is only for a matter of seconds. Only 9%!

This means that a massive amount of digital marketing flies right past the intended audience and is wasted. The millions of dollars spent on digital marketing disappear into the internet.

At least partially in response to this phenomenon, businesses have returned to direct mail marketing. And yes, direct mail marketing can be successful to Generation Z.

What Is Direct Mail Marketing And Why Is It Successful?

A row of rural letterboxes. Concept of direct mail marketingDirect mail marketing is exactly what it sounds like: mailing a printed marketing document directly to potential consumers. Direct mail marketing involves brochures, catalogs, postcards, newsletters, etc. It involves actual paper marketing materials which end up in people’s mailboxes.

There are distinct advantages to direct mail marketing. Businesses can purchase mailing lists from reputable sources who have already demonstrated an interest in their type of business or product. Rather than the seemingly random messages which are in circulation in the digital format, direct mail pinpoints a specific demographic and targets marketing materials for this demographic.

Rather than gambling on hitting the mark with digital marketing, direct mail narrows the focus and often produces better results in terms of return on investment into marketing strategies.

Consider how direct mail marketing would grab the attention of a young adult. Instead of finding themselves facing dozens of notifications from dozens of apps, they have a single piece of mail in their hands. All their attention is focused on that one piece of mail. There will be no dings, buzzes, or pop-ups when they’re looking at the mail. It is, perhaps, the most effective way to get a person’s attention.

Direct Mail Marketing For Small Businesses

Direct mail marketing is particularly useful for small business. Small businesses often lack the capital for large digital marketing strategies. Even if they build a website to receive and direct internet traffic, there’s little to guarantee that they will pull in the kind of digital traffic required to sustain a successful marketing strategy.

This type of indirect marketing is certainly powerful, but it involves a tremendous amount of data and analytics which may not be available to small businesses.

The simple, straightforward process of direct marketing is ideal for small businesses with small budgets. It’s a simple process for a small business to generate a mailing list from their current customer base and use this for a direct mail marketing strategy.

It’s also relatively simple to combine direct mail marketing with email marketing. By providing the same message in two different formats, the odds of getting the attention of the consumer are much higher.

Will marketing in 2018 involve large digital campaigns? Of course. But given the glut of information on the internet, businesses will need to get creative with their marketing campaigns.

Understanding and Marketing To Generation Z

Generation Z places an incredibly high value on the ability to define their choices for themselves. They want to be individuals. They don’t want to be defined by social constructs, they want to create their own identities.

In order to market to a new generation, businesses will need to pay attention to the types of marketing channels they use and whether those channels connect with the values of Generation Z. Remember, marketing channels are only the medium by which the marketing message is conveyed. A digital marketing campaign may completely miss the mark when it comes to understanding their audience while a direct mail campaign may nail it on the head.

Because the current generation is so inundated with advertising, they’ve become extremely good at filtering out most things and only paying attention to what matters to them. For any marketing campaign to succeed in the coming years, it will need to speak directly to the things that matter to young people.

Marketing campaigns need to be thought of as working with the consumer rather than to the consumer. In other words, because Generation Z highly values individuality and the ability to choose, marketing campaigns need to communicate that they are helping the consumer rather than telling them what to do.

Le Tote and Direct Mail Marketing

Direct mail marketing is a long way from the old ideas of junk mail. There are numerous examples of direct mail marketing that meet the challenges of the new consumers and new consumer practices.

Le Tote, a women’s clothing and accessory company, uses direct mail marketing to reach customers and to succinctly explain the fantastic benefits of their company. Le Tote directly allows customers to purchase clothes in a new and unique way. The fun for their customers is that each gets a box of mix and match items which they can choose to keep or trade for other items. The customers get products and participate in trading and exchanging those products.

This company uses a direct mail integrative strategy (regular mail, email and other direct mail channels) to reach their customer base. This has been extremely effective and successful because the direct mail marketing strategy allows customers to see exactly what they can get and what they can do with the items in the box. Again, appealing to Gen-Zers and others who want some type of personal identification with their consumer choices.


Is direct mail marketing a thing of the past? Hardly. In fact, as digital advertising continues to crowd the online world, direct mail marketing may actually be the ideal marketing strategy of the future. With its unique ability to grab and hold the attention of customers, it offers significant advantages over digital marketing.

What is clear is that smart marketers will take an integrated approach to marketing in 2018, using every possible marketing channel at their disposal. Direct mail marketing isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.


EM360 Digital

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