Youth is more receptive to direct mail
The UK's 15-24 year olds are highly receptive to direct mail, and the so-called 'young online generation' are also the most likely to buy in retail stores, according to research by Experian into British consumers' multichannel preferences.
Using the company's Mosaic TrueTouch insights to explore the most effective ways for brands to engage with different audiences across the UK, the company's findings appear to challenge current thinking on consumer preferences, as well as highlighting the growing importance of avoiding a "one-size-fits-all" marketing approach.
Although direct mail is welcomed by those aged over 65, the Experian analysis revealed that the second most likely group to engage with this channel are those aged 15-24. This group's parents - who are generally more comfortably off, living in the suburbs and commonly aged between 46 and 65 - are less likely to respond well to direct mail.
These findings suggest that it is time for marketers and retailers to look beyond common misconceptions about channel preferences, and use more detailed insights to establish how their brands should communicate with their target audiences.
According to Nigel Wilson, managing director of marketing information services for Experian, "At first glance it might be surprising that, in the age of digital interaction, young people are so receptive to a traditional channel like direct mail but, in reality, advances in marketing technologies have increased receptiveness toward this channel."
For example, Wilson pointed out that some brands now incorporate 2D discount barcodes into material that can be scanned by compatible mobile phones. The generation aged 46-64 are obviously less likely to benefit from these advances and, as a result of being over-targeted with direct mail in the past, tend to be more indifferent than younger consumers.
The research also showed that, while the 25-34 age group embraces the online channel, younger consumer groups - especially those living in terraced but diverse, multicultural inner city areas, and young well-educated city dwellers - are most likely to purchase goods and services in-store. This suggests a need for marketers to use a cross-channel marketing strategy to engage those who use a mixture of online and offline resources to make purchasing decisions.
Wilson added: "Younger UK consumers will engage with offline and online channels not only to get the best price, but also get their hands on the products as quickly as possible after purchase. After researching items and price comparisons on the internet, they will then purchase from the high street rather than wait for delivery. This really emphasises the rise of the 'I want it now generation', who use a cross channel approach to optimise their purchasing experience."
However, for older age groups, if direct marketing is to have a positive effect, retailers need to integrate activities over this channel with face-to-face engagement. The research found that this group are the most receptive to this form of communication. This group encompasses retired professionals and managers on pensions from successful careers, living in attractive and spacious houses in well established suburbs of large provincial cities.
Consumers in 'active retirement' and 'rural solitude' were also cited as being responsive to face-to-face engagement. Both of these groups incorporate older and more isolated communities who are likely to make purposeful visits to the high street, with a specific purchase in mind.
"The research suggests that older groups tend to be far more comfortable making a purchase based on face-to-face engagement," concluded Wilson. "Retailers should note that while these shoppers are further away from the high street, they will look to make their trip to town count."