For many, the only addressed letters they receive are bank statements, so there is a huge opportunity for brands to reach, excite and engage this group through well-produced and creative mail.
They may be living with mum and dad for cultural, practical or financial reasons, but they are assertive and independent thinkers with fewer responsibilities than other age groups.
High quality printed materials turn heads
According to The Life Stages of Mail research by Royal Mail’s MarketReach, the 16-34s who have finished their education but are living in the family home are more likely to open envelopes than the 55+ group.
Almost half of those questioned agree that the quality of printing and material in a piece of mail tells them something about the organisation that sent it. Some 38% are more likely to look at mail that is printed on high-quality materials.
These young consumers are referred to as ‘fledglings’ in the study which looks in depth at how people consume mail at different life stages.
Fledglings welcome mail, trust it, find it memorable and can be emotionally attached to receiving something through the letter box in a way their parents might no longer be.
Automotive brand Lookers uses direct mail to hold the hands of younger consumers who may be about to purchase a vehicle. Marketing manager Jane Saunders says mail is a powerful way to reach this life stage because they are often buying their first car after passing their driving test or having previously driven their parents’ vehicle.
“We are sensitive to the fact that buying a car is an emotional and daunting process for most young people living with their parents,” she says. “They are keen to get on the road to gain more independence, but it’s usually their first ‘big’ purchase, so they need to know they’re making a good decision.”
Lookers’ mail shots focus on customer service to reassure young people. “Helping someone to find their perfect first car could make them a customer for life, so building trust with this demographic is extremely important,” says Saunders. “We don’t try to push a sale from the get-go, but instead offer our support in finding the right vehicle.”
Mixing direct mail with digital to get results
Of course, fledglings are still more likely to respond to a brand through a digital channel such as a text message which is why mail must link to a brand’s online presence. A digital link could be a simple QR code or website link, a social campaign or a video.
Lookers acknowledge that this age group does most of its research online so its direct mail campaigns are complemented with search and display activity.
“Often when it comes to providing contact details on the mailshot, our social channels and website takes priority over phone numbers and showroom addresses,” says Saunders.
However, it can be wrongly assumed that because fledglings are digital natives they are solely engrossed in digital social activities. This may be why many marketers ignore them when it comes to direct mail.
According to researcher TouchPoints, Fledglings do indeed spend less time reading mail than the 35-54s or the 55+ groups. Despite this, the research indicates they receive fewer pieces of mail. However, they are just as likely to regard it formal, personal, informative, serious and believable.
The research also shows that fledglings respond well to physical marketing material. Indeed, 65.8% of those questioned agreed with the statement: “I am more likely to remember to use a voucher if I have a physical copy of it to carry around”.
One challenge for brands is how to get their material into the hands of fledglings who usually leave the job of sifting through the mail to their parents. The message must therefore engage parents in some way by grabbing their attention enough that they are inclined to pass mail on to their child.
One brand looking to do this is gym chain Pure Gym which acquired rival LA Fitness last summer. LA Fitness used direct mail extensively and Pure Gym marketing director Paul Kirwin says he is considering the channel as a way to reach potential young members who are living with their parents.
“There is no doubt that this group is hard to reach and we do a lot on social and paid search,” says Kirwin. “We have used direct mail when we have opened a new gym to raise awareness of joining offers. We might now look at more bespoke direct mail for specific age groups. The key is to get a strong, clear and relevant creative that also appeals to parents who will forward a mailshot on to their child.”
Rachel Aldighieri, managing director of the Direct Marketing Association, says brands need to challenge themselves and be more innovative in the print techniques they use as well as making sure they link the mail to social and mobile.
“The problem is that fledglings contain many segments with different interests and behaviour so the mail must be relevant and recognise and respond to specific personal needs,” she says. “You also need to involve parents so they pin mail to the kitchen noticeboard, for instance.”
Savvy brands are using a variety of data sources to capture 17 and 18 year olds and then adding customer data to target fledglings with relevant information. They are also tracking individual disposable incomes and working with credit reference companies to follow credit scores.
Perhaps the biggest issue is with marketers who wrongly assume that young adults living at home are no longer interested in anything that isn’t digital, but the research shows that this age group will respond to mail is the creative engages them and the messaging is relevant.
- Making it clear the item is not for their parents
- Personalising mail and using age-appropriate style and tone of voice
- Having a clear call to action and help to guide them through the next steps
- Encouraging them to share the mail with friends
- Making it easy to respond using digital channels and different devices
Lynx: Thinking creatively with direct mail to engage with its “grown up” customers
Lynx realised that the boys who loved the brand as teenagers had now grown up and it needed to mature with them. It launched Lynx Black which promoted lifestyle topics such as going to music gigs, grooming and drinking.
The brand opened a shop called Black Space and as part of a multichannel campaign key influencers were mailed high-quality boxed invitations which included a black t-shirt. Each shirt had a Bluetooth chip sewn in so Lynx could create relevant experiences for them when they visited the shop.
This multi-channel campaign resulted in high engagement and people visiting the store shared their experiences on social media. More than 17,000 visited Black Space and more than 52 million social media impressions were generated.
- 38% are more likely to look at mail on high quality material
- Fledglings are 32% more likely to trust information they see in print compared to on the internet
- 17% plan to move out of their parents’ home in the next year
- Only 8.7% of fledglings responded to direct mail online via a smartphone or tablet