The Life Stages of Mail research carried out studies across England through in-depth interviews, camera-diaries and mobile device tracking, to identify how people in different life stages respond to direct mail.
The report categorised people into seven life stages: fledglings; sharers; couples; young families; older families; empty nesters; and older retirees.
The results found that far from being disinterested in DM, young people living at home with their parents – fledglings – were 18% more likely than any other group to be receptive to mailings.
The study showed 23% had bought or ordered something as a result of receiving direct mail in the last 12 months. Only the retiree group scored higher with 32%.
Additionally a third of fledglings had kept a piece of direct mail for future reference, while 17% – more than any other category – had passed it on to others.
“There is a myth in the market that only older people engage and respond to direct mail, but we found through this research that there is a much deeper picture and from the fledgling point of view it’s quite surprising,” said Emma Springham, head of marketing at MarketReach.
Furthermore, despite fledglings spending more time online than on all other media combined, the group is 32% more likely than others to trust direct mail over online marketing, whilst 66% said they were more likely to use a voucher if they had a physical copy of it.
“It’s surprising that 32% of fledglings trust mail more than digital campaigns,” Springham said.
“They do respond in a digital nature though and they will share it with friends if they think it makes them look good in a social light, but what we found is that it has to be good enough quality for them to share it.”
Springham said fledglings were more likely to want more tactile and innovative mailings such as using augmented reality and 3D features.
“It’s a step in a journey that complements digital in a really nice way,” she said.
“There are so many possibilities. This really shows that there is an opportunity to have some fun and be quite innovative, to take mailings to the next level. Innovation is key with this group particularly.”
Springham said that she felt personalisation was also particularly relevant.
“It’s all very well to send it to ‘Mr J Smith’, but there may be two ‘Mr J Smiths’ in that family. It’s about making sure it hits the right recipient and absolutely making it as personalised as possible,” she added.
Other results showed that the ‘young families’ category – those with one or more young children, the oldest of whom is in primary school – are big responders of direct mail. They are 24% more likely than other groups to go online to make an enquiry or request more information online as a result of receiving mail and 92% more likely to have used a mobile phone or tablet to respond to mail.
Meanwhile for the ‘older families’ life stage, the report reveals that 52% have used a DM voucher in the past 12 months.
Springham said: “Essentially this shows that there are people in all life stages that respond to direct mail but the end-to-end journey needs to be carefully thought about. It’s about knowing who they are, what they want and how to encourage that response.”