Are Millennials Bringing Back Print?
In this digital age, there seems to be the belief that print media is either dead or dying. One potential culprit for this thought is that the younger generations are “addicted” to devices such as smartphones, and therefore have no interest in print media.
However, a report by Ipsos shows that Millennials and the previous generation, Generation X (Gen X), are both experiencing an upward trend of mobile internet usage. Even the Baby Boomers, while using mobile internet far less than either Gen X or Millennials, are still seeing an increase of use.
Furthermore, despite this increase in digital reliance, the same study found that Millennials were more likely to pay attention to newspaper and magazine adverts (40%) than to adverts on their laptop (35%), mobile (34%), or tablet (29%). So, not only is print not dead, the Millennials are a far cry from the prime suspect in its demise.
In fact, quite the opposite. It appears that the Millennial generation is actually bolstering print media’s popularity. According to Omnipress, 89% of Millennials use print media for professional and educational material.
Where’s this love for print coming from in the usually tech-savvy age group? Well, there’s certainly an argument to be made for escapism — the younger generations in the UK particularly are noted for having poor mental wellbeing. The Guardian reported on findings from the Varkey Foundation, in which people were asked about their feelings, how loved they felt and what worries they had. With a rising fear of terrorism and climate change, along with concerns for the future and aspects like not being able to own a home, it’s no wonder that this generation is fond of escapism.
And where better than in the pages of a book? You may think Millennials and the generation after, Generation Z, are hooked to video games and don’t read anymore. Not so — in 2014, figures showed Millennials read more printed books (88%) than Gen X did (79%). Furthermore, the sale of digital books has actually been in decline, with physical book sales starting to rise again. Not only is the younger generation seeking an escape, it’s seeking stability; something it can physically hold on to. There’s likely an element of nostalgia in reading a physical book too, and nostalgia is all the rage right now. Nostalgia is a form of escapism in itself, in that a person yearns for a different time or place away from the current reality. Looking back with rose-tinted glasses is comforting to many.
Physical print is also seeing a resurgence in magazine print. In particular, independent magazines are seeing a revival in print, and some believe it is down to a rebellious attitude rising against the internet. Considered to be the least-trusting generation, could it be that Millennials are looking for a way to consume media that hasn’t been heavily edited or filtered as the internet is these days? Or, in a world where they are told so often that they are the generation addicted to technology, is this enjoyment of print media a way to shirk the stereotype?
Whatever the reason, it’s working in print media’s favour, as 2018 saw newspapers enjoying a rise of 1% in print display advertising in its first quarter. Again, this falls into the area of trust, with social media outlets having had a tough time in that regard in recent years after a number of data breaches and scandals hitting the headlines. With its fall from grace, it looks like print media, such as newspapers and magazine, can step back into the limelight as a “tried, tested and true” traditional medium.
Plus, returning to this medium after exploring all the possibilities of digital adverts and being forced to get creative to be noticed in the oversaturated market has lead to some fantastic print advert designs! Take the Glacial beer company, for instance. It ran a print paper advert that served more purpose than just advertising — it was functional, too. The paper was infused with salt, and the advert called for readers to tear the page out, wet it, and wrap a bottle of beer with it before popping it in the freezer. As a result of the salt, the beer would chill in half the time.
On the other hand, print and digital advertising don’t have to be at odds, either. Sonera ran a printed advert to spotlight its 4G, with the printed advert forming a board game layout. Putting an iPhone in the centre of the ad set the stage for a two-player game that took place on the paper and on the screen!
Print is far from dead. In fact, it’s enjoying something of a resurgence thanks partly to a kindred spirit: the Millennial. Both print and the Millennial generation are looking to buck the trend and prove the naysayers wrong. And if the figures are anything to go by, they’re succeeding.
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