The generation known as Digital Natives – born and raised in the age of the Internet – are said to live much of their lives online in one way or another. Indeed, while use of email is hardly exclusive to their demographic, it’s no coincidence that their rise has corresponded with the decline of mail volume.

Now that Digital Natives account for the largest segment of the American population and are growing more influential every year in their buying power, it’s more important than ever to ensure the U.S. Postal Service is engaging this group. But do Digital Natives currently see any value in the mail?

Surprisingly, yes. In our recently released white paper, Enhancing Mail for Digital Natives, we found Digital Natives have an abiding interest in the mail. In fact, Digital Natives check their mailboxes daily. They’re mainly interested in packages – things bought online, of course – but they also like regular mailpieces, especially those that integrate some type of digital technology, like augmented reality. Digital Natives said that if regular mail ever disappeared they would be unhappy for a variety of reasons - citing everything from no more handwritten notes to postal employees who would be out of a job.

The white paper analyzes results from Digital Native focus groups recently convened specifically to assess current uses and perceptions of the mail. And some of those results are interesting, to say the least:

Digital Natives feel an emotional attachment to mail that they don’t feel with digital communications.
Digital Natives still appreciate receiving certain types of physical mail that are useful, such as coupons, and are more likely to use them when the hard copy coupon can be uploaded and used through a smartphone.
Their anticipation of packages leads them not only to check their mail daily but also look at mail they might otherwise ignore.
Digital natives still look at catalogs, but catalogs are more likely to lead to a purchase if they can be scanned by mobile phones or tablets.

The paper details these and other findings that could help both the Postal Service and mailers develop strategies for making mail even more appealing to Digital Natives, and thus continue to meet current and future public needs.

Do you agree with the findings of the focus groups, especially if you consider yourself a Digital Native? Let us know what you think. 

Comments (1)

  • anon

    With the technologies that internet companies, such as google and facebook, and online marketers are currently using to create databases for targeted advertising to web browsers, and variable data printing technology and mailing services such as everyday direct mail, it seems that there ought to be a huge opportunity for someone to combine/harness these technologies to create timely, targeted, and highly effective advertising/marketing campaigns via physical mail in much the way google, facebook, and others do with online ads. Digital features of such mailings would certainly enhance the attractiveness to customers as well as potentially help advertisers gauge the effectiveness of their campaigns and constantly improve them. A plus for mail recipients would be that this more specifically targeted mail advertising, unlike Pennysaver and Red Plum which are saturation advertising, would be less likely seen as "junk" mail.

    Nov 19, 2013