As the U.S. Postal Service remakes itself into a leaner organization in the face of a communications revolution, it still remains a powerful medium and an important part of the nation’s infrastructure. A smaller Postal Service will still be huge, with more than $60 billion in projected revenue. It will not disappear tomorrow.

A lingering concern remains, however, that the Postal Service is becoming less relevant to younger Americans. A recent public opinion poll by The New York Times and CBS supports this conclusion. According to the poll, only 30 percent of people under 45 say they use the mail “all the time.”

While daily reliance on the Postal Service is still high for older generations, these poll results raise questions about the organization’s long-term future if physical mail does not play a role in the lives of younger Americans. A Pew Research study shows these younger generations turn to the Internet and smart devices for their news, entertainment, and to connect with friends and family. The Postal Service and traditional hard-copy communication vehicles will find it hard to win customers that have grown up as digital natives.

Still, other polls suggest that hard copy and direct mail remain an important part of the media mix, even for those under the age 35. A 2011 survey by Pitney Bowes indicated that marketers under the age of 35 are more likely to use direct mail in their marketing mix than their older counterparts. Package delivery also remains an opportunity for the Postal Service as younger Americans are more likely than older generations to shop online.

What do you think is the best way for the Postal Service to serve a younger demographic? Should it attempt to promote its traditional products to younger Americans and tout the benefits of hard copy as a complement or supplement to digital? Should the Postal Service instead focus on expanding its digital offerings? Is there another strategy?

Comments (9)

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  • anon

    I would like to expound on Lateefah Hill's comment as I see she has a great idea for attracting late Gen Xers, Gen Yers, and Millenials. The key to these generational groups is quick, cheap, and hassle-free. I say go digital! (i.e. Social Media and Mobile)...This is the ONLY way to truly attract them outside of packaging for online shopping. Traditional products are will not go over well with these groups. Why look to receive hard copies when you can access the information on your phone or tablet and print it IF you want a hard copy? Lateefah Hill is right Postal could create a site (something like a portal) where a user can receive and pay bills electronically. Truthfully, I do not think email and picture sharing is viable as there are numerous sites in existence that already provide these services free. I do not see consumers opting to pay for email and picture sharing - I would not. Moreover, the best way of advertising to these groups probably through social media sites (i.e. Facebook and YouTube) and other mobile applications this is probably less costly than television ads.

    Oct 29, 2012
  • anon

    I am in the older generation that grew up relying on the old fashion "snail mail" system, and remember the excitement as a child whenever I received a letter of my very own. Unfortunately, in this fast paced world, I do not sit down to write letters as I used to do instead opting to send emails. I have suggested to my post office that the USPS start a service whereby I could go online to create a letter, pay a nominal fee, and have a hard copy letter be sent to the person I am writing. I have 15+ grandchildren, 1 great-grandchild, my mother, aunts, uncles, and many friends that I would love to send hard copy mail too. In reading other comments / suggestions, I especially like the idea of having stamp collection associated to a savings program; and I feel that a postal lottery system would be great, with the first prizes beginning with postal services and supplies. IN regards to the current plight facing the postal service, the first step that needs to be taken is to reduce the outrageous retirements that some of the retired employees are getting. I for one have a cousin that took an early retirement from the USPS, got another job from which she retired, and is now working for county government and a third retirement. If the government can change the rules for retired military then the USPS should be able to make adjustments accordingly when facing financial crisis (when cuts in frivolous spending are curtailed.)

    Oct 27, 2012
  • anon

    How about actually delivering the mail at times when people might be home? Since your only function connected with the youth of today is to deliver package bought at online stores, it's shocking that you only deliver or allow for pickups at time when they will surely be at work or school. Any signature required package is virtually undeliverable, through your 19th-century "service." In my area, packages that can't be successfully delivered on the first try go to a local post office in a supermarket that is only open 9 to 4 on weekdays! Anyone who works or goes to school has NO RECOURSE. I have spoken to my local postmaster and he expressed sympathy but offered no recourse. Shameful!

    Sep 10, 2012
  • anon

    Hi Sean, And that's why alot of people go "Digital". I have a Carrier thinks she's in the NFL & tosses my pkgs out her car, then turns NASCAR & spins in our yard in her car to escape?! I called our Postmaster & he offered sympathy but did nothing as far as I know??? I try to mail my bills but I was getting $35-$45 late charges that I don't get over my computer! Right now, I ordered a pkg. from Personal Creations for an Anniversarry Gift....Are ya ready??? Sept. 2, 2012! I ordered it the week before & used USPS. God knows where it's at but arrival date should be 9-17-12 I'd complain but don't feel like sympathy! Rosemary McKeever

    Sep 12, 2012
  • anon

    I am a college student in my early 20's and appreciate "snail mail." In our busy world today, people my age are always on the go. In an effort to make a few dollars, I sell products online and ship them to people across the US, which makes me a "frequent flyer" at Post Offices across the South Shore of Massachusetts. Instead of going lean, the US Postal Service should have more staff on hand to assist customers, making the time spent in the store much less. This would make people my age more likely to go there to handle transactions. In my last 2 visits (to Quincy MA and Braintree MA) I waited in line for over fifteen minutes. Many friends, and people I've spoken with in line are leaving to go to USPS competitors to get quicker service. Hope this helps! Thanks.

    Sep 05, 2012
  • anon

    Enclosed are suggestions from Postal Employees that would do much to help save the USPS 1/ 3rd class cards = Christmas, Birthday,Easter,Anniversary,Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Thanksgiving, New Years and others. At a price 1/2 the cost of 1st class mail or 22 cents sealed to prevent damage by machines. Generating billions more in postage 2/ Sell a product that holds the product we deliver. Sell mailboxes at Post Offices large enough for sales. The mailbox has to be authorized by the Postmaster General so why not sell them at the Post Office. 3/ Abolish bonuses for management at all facilities. Bonuses will be given to ALL employees if and when the USPS is in the black and making a profit from savings. 4/ Managers that knowingly and willfully violate the National and local agreement, will pay a fine of from $50 to $500 for that violation. The fine will get progressively increased with each willful violation of the National or local agreement. The savings will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars each year. The way the system is now, it costs the USPS hundreds of millions of dollars each year because managers have nothing to lose. Craft employees pay for willful or accidental misconduct from their pockets, so why not managers. 5/ Abolish all but one Vice President position at National Headquarters. We have 1 Vice President for 300 million people. Why have dozens of Vice Presidents for 600,000 employees. With each making 6 figure salaries that have nothing to do with sorting or delivering mail, it is a drain on USPS finances. They each also have office staff also costing millions of dollars also draining USPS finances 6/ Abolish the local positions of Postmaster, Assistant Postmaster/Superintendent of Postal Operations. Using instead A Clerk-In-Charge and 4 clerk-in-charge supervisors to run the Post Office. Also using a Letter Carrier-In- Charge and 4 Letter Carrier-in-charge supervisors. Advancement to be based on seniority. Then every employee has the opportunity for advancement in their later years before retirement. The present system allows the lazy to manage and judge others based on their lack of work ethics. Would the military take a private and promote him/her to 5 star General skipping all ranks in between. That's what the USPS does now. 7/ Stop wasting billions of dollars on machines like the FSS and DPS machines. The idea is to put people to work not machines. People earn their pay, then spend it creating our economy. Billions of dollars are spent developing machines in an effort to speed-up delivery. But is delivery really going faster? Machines use large amounts of electric paid for by the USPS. That money would be better spent on wages to employees. The machines break down causing delays and destruction of mail. Machines need higher paid technicians to repair them. Machines destroy mail and cost billions of dollars to developed and more billions on buildings to house them. Those billions of dollars would be better spent on wages for people to help stimulate our economy. The only real machine needed is the cancelling machine and we had those in the 50s without wasting billions of dollars on development. 8/ Management should stop trying to fool employees during route inspections. What good does hiding mail do! Here is an example of why. In the early 80s my route consisted of a 13 mile walk each day. There were about 500 families on the route. Come time for inspection and the mail disappeared. On the day of inspection I went out with 400 pieces of mail for a 500 family route. That meant I did not deliver to over 100 houses. Each house had a 25 foot set-back from the sidewalk to the mailbox. That meant I did not walk over 5,000 feet.on inspection. Who were they kidding adding another block of houses to my route. Then all of a sudden the mail picked up after the inspections were over. Now we were walking that extra 5,000 or more feet plus another block with all that extra mail leading to more and more overtime and intimidation to get the mail delivered in 8 from the managers that hid the mail to begin with. Solution= Print a card that says " Dear patron or Customer. do not remove this card from your mailbox. This is how the USPS adjusts your letter carriers route to as close to 8 hours as possible. Your mail carrier will deliver this card today and pick it up tomorrow. Then repeat that 2 more times this week. We will then be able to determine how much time it takes to walk each route on a normal delivery day. 9/ Another suggestion A Postal Lottery. Done either weekly or monthly. Here is how. We already have stamps printed. Sell a book of 10 stamps with 1 stamp each week printed upside down. The purchaser of that stamp receives 1/2 of the proceeds from the sale of the lottery stamps that week. Sell the book of stamps for $5.40. $4.40 for the stamps $1.00 towards the lottery. It could be done monthly to generating more money. There could also be 3 more upside down stamps printed for 2nd 3rd 4th place prize. The USPS would keep 1/2 of the proceeds from the lottery stamp sales. The books of stamps would be in a sealed book to prevent peeking. As an added value to the stamp itself, stamp collectors would pay thousands to the lottery winner to buy the winning stamps. I think people would love this. Its a chance to win a million dollars or more and at the same time help the USPS to keep the cost of postage down saving everyone money. Don't like lotteries buy a different stamp. It would add 2 words to a clerks duty." Lottery or regular" To a customers request for a book of stamps 10/ if this system is not in operation it should be. here is how it works. the usps print passbooks of various denominations. for kicks lets start with 25 cents. print a passbook with places to stick 100 25 cent savings stamps. you give your pass book to the clerk and tell them you want to apply $2.00 to your pass book. when the 100 stamps have been applied the clerk endorses the book and you own a $25 piece of the USPS. when you trade in the book you get the accumulated interest or hold it forever receiving monthly interest on your savings. 11/ Rural routes be delivered just as foot routes are. Odd then even sides of the road. or vice versa. There are far to many postal customers being hit by cars and killed just going a crossed the road for mail. Is the little time saved by a rural carrier delivering to only one side of the road worth a human life. In my short 23 years in a rural area 4 people have been killed in just this area. I wonder how much the toll of killed is nation wide all to save a few minutes and lose a mail receiving customer. 12/ 1000 mile pony express race. Held once a year. Riders dressed in USPS uniforms wearing a 10 gallon hat with the USPS logo. to be held once each year in either the spring or fall for the best weather. 5 riders leave Dallas TX. for Bismark,ND. as 5 riders leave Bismark, ND. for Dallas TX.. Each rider carries about 5,000 first day pony express 2011 covers. The wining rider gets $1,000,000 2nd $750,000 3rd $500,000 4th $250,000 5th to 10th $100,000. There is no loser and prizes are paid by the special pony express stamps printed for the year before the race. The 50,000 first day covers carried by the 10 riders to be auctioned off by the USPS as more revenue. There will be between 4 and 6 places to change horses on the 1000 mile race. Each place will have its cancellation stamp added to all 50,000 first day covers after the race is over. 1 to 12 Suggested by Herb Flavell Br 38 NALC 13/ Create a luggage class as parcel post. Make it such that it's cheaper than airline charges. Since we are more interested in size than weight, make it such that a person can pay for both ways at the same time with a reversible card that can be changed over once the visit is done. Suggested by Pete Marutiak Br 504 Albuquerque 14/ The USPS should advocate for vote by mail Asking the President and members of the Senate House of Representatives and all state legislators to back vote by mail legislation through out the United States of America. Generating millions of dollars in new revenue. Matt Sause III .

    Sep 05, 2012
  • anon

    I am currently a non tradditional student in college and unlike me, majority of the younger students in my class take notes on their computer rather than use pen and paper. Since social media platforms such as Facebook, I can't remember the last time I've sent or received letters or pictures in the mail. I toss ALL direct marketing into the trash. It's obvious that the younger generation is heavily engrossed into digital products rather than traditional hard copy. I believe that it would be a waste of resources to promote USPS traditional products to younger Americans. I doubt they would even care. Instead, the Postal should focus resources on expanding digital products that younger Americans will incorporate more into their fast paced, "in the now, in the moment" lives. Postal could create a site where a user can email, pay bills electronically, picture share, etc; the site could be called

    Sep 05, 2012
  • anon

    In the 1980's the Postal Service had a Benjamin Franklin club. The idea was to get grade school kids interested in collecting stamps. When a stamp collector buys a stamp and doesn't use it, this is almost all profit. I don't know if the program still exists, but it might be a way to get the youth interested in stamps and in the Postal Service.

    Sep 04, 2012
  • anon What's profitable about that? Now if the stamp was linked to the U.S. Savings Bond Program, that might be more appealing. Just sayin

    Sep 05, 2012

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