Why Millennials Crave Print


This is your brain on Print

Five to ten years ago it was really looking as though print was on the way out. But there is plenty of evidence that it isn’t as easily replaced as we may have thought. Over the last ten years studies have been conducted to try and understand the effects of various marketing mediums on the human brain. As our technology has moved forward, so have our ways to measure the results.


Print = Engaged Emotions & Memories

In the late 2000’s, a case study by Millward Brown and the Centre for Experimental Consumer Psychology at Bangor University used fMRI’s to observe differences in the way print and virtual media affect the brain. Participants were shown images of pre-existing ads and scrambled images (control) via both screen and printed cards. 


There were several interesting findings from the tests. 

  • Printed material made the parts of the brain associated with the combination of visual information with spatial information light up. Therefore, it is perceived as more “real” to the brain due to its spatial context. Spatial context serves as an aid in storing information as memories.

  • When physical material is presented, the parts of the brain responsible for emotional processing react more strongly than they do with virtual materials. 

  • Both the medial PFC and cingulate (brain parts associated with emotional engagement) are more active when a subject is interacting with printed materials. Thoughts related to internal emotions and memories were engaged, creating associations between these and the printed material.


Millennials = Engaged Emotions & Memories, too.

Millennials are used to a bombardment of content, primarily digital, on a daily basis. In order to truly connect with them, a brand has to cut through all of that and create emotional connections. The findings above lend themselves perfectly to what we know about the millennial consumer’s needs.  

Why is a deeper connection so important to millennials? Maybe it comes down to the fact that they know how inexpensive it is to generate digital media. They recognize that their attention is a form of currency. Something about the tactile nature of printed material makes it feel more real, longer lasting, it has more weight and even nostalgia associated with it. Because it feels more valuable in this way it is therefore something inherently worth paying more attention to. And while an emotional connection is highly necessary to gain millennial attention, all age demographics are craving tangible media to interact with. 


Cross-Media Campaigns

Neither print nor digital is going to cast the widest net on its own. The strongest campaigns are those that are made up of both. Each customer has their own individual preferences and interests, and a well rounded campaign will find a way to touch on most of those (without breaking the budget). Knowing the power of print and combining it with the measurability of digital can lead to some truly remarkable results. How do you incorporate print into your next campaign, you ask? Click here to read our article outlining print content for each phase of the marketing funnel, or contact us below if you’d like to learn more about setting up a cross-media campaign.

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