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Numerous research studies have validated why print belongs in the marketing mix. Click here to see the research archive.

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Is print sustainable?

Print is made from paper, a completely renewable resource. Sixty percent of all the forested land in the United States is privately owned,[1] and nearly all (over 90 percent) of the domestic wood used in the production of paper comes from trees grown on these privately-owned "tree farms."[2] Print helps give private landowners a financial incentive to grow trees and not sell off their land for other uses.[3] Print helps husband and marshal the perpetuation of forests and forest products.

[1]Agricultural Marketing Resource Center., 2014
[3]Edward L. Glaeser, Professor of Economics, Harvard University, “A road map for Environmentalism,” Boston Globe.

Does print lead to fewer trees?

In the U.S. about 2/3 of all fiber used to make paper is derived from recycled paper and residue from forest and sawmill operations.[1] In addition, most forests are managed responsibly, and an increasing number of forests are certified by third-party, responsible forest management organizations and governmental regulatory agencies. Print helps give private landowners a financial incentive to grow trees and not sell off their land for other uses.[2] In the U.S., both the area of land dedicated to growing trees and the amount of timber grown on that land is greater today than it was in the 1950s.[3]

[1]US EPA, Office of Solid Waste, 2014.
[2]Glaeser, op, cit.
[3]International Paper, Down to Earth, "Is it Worth Printing?"

Do the majority of printed products end up in landfills?

Over the past 33 years, the amount of paper and paperboard that is recycled has increased from 38.7% in 1993 to 44.5% in 1999, and a record-high 67.2% in 2016.[1] In addition 72.2% of newspaper/mechanical papers was recovered in 2016. Overall, the amount of paper going to landfills has declined by more than half since 2003, falling from an estimated 46.4 million tons to about 20.9 million tons in 2016.[2]

[1]Paper Recycles, Paper & Paperboard Recovery Statistics

Is e-communication more environmentally friendly than print?

All communication has an environmental impact. Energy is required to power electronic communication, both to run individual consumer electronics and to power the servers that store electronic information 24/7. The majority of electricity in the U.S. is derived from non-renewable fossil fuels.[1] Plus, in the U.S., more than 65% of the energy needed to produce paper products is derived from carbon-neutral biomass fuel.[2]

[1]U.S. Energy Information Administration, Net Generation by Energy Source: Total (All Sectors), January 23, 2014.
[2]2012 AF&PA Sustainability Report.

Is direct mail effective?

Yes! A 2015 InfoTrends survey found that 66% of direct mail is opened, 82% of that is read for a minute or more, and 62% of consumers who responded to direct mail in the past three months made a purchase.[1] Other studies indicate that many of these purchases may be made online. For example, a study by the Direct Marketing Association[2] found that 78% of consumers will act on direct mail immediately, compared to just 45% who say they deal with email right away. When they receive direct mail from a brand that they're interested in, 44% visit the brand's website and 34% search online for more information about the product.

Millennials like to use direct mail to make purchase decisions. For example, 62% use retail advertising inserts to compare prices, 60% to clip coupons and 49% to make shopping lists.[3]

Charitable organizations still find direct mail particularly effective as well. A November 2013 study by YouGov[4] found that direct mail is the strongest tactic for donations (aside from donating to a regularly supported charity). In this survey, 21% of respondents cited direct mail solicitations as the prompt behind their most recent gift, as compared to just 6% who responded to pleas on social media.

[1] InfoTrends, "Direct Marketing Production Printing & Value-Added Services: A Strategy for Growth," December 2015.
[2] UK Direct Marketing Association, "From Letterbox to Inbox 2013."
[3] Quad Graphics, "Millennials: An Emerging Consumer Powerhouse," December 2015
[4] YouGov, "YouGov Giving Report 2013."

Why do businesses still send out printed catalogs?

Because they work – especially in combination with e-commerce sites. For example, a 2013 study by global management consulting firm Kurt Salmon shows that print catalogs directly boost online sales. They do this by increasing purchase intent – 58% of online shoppers surveyed said they browse catalogs for ideas, and 31% have a retailer's catalog handy when they make an online purchase – and by increasing the average order size (compared to internet-only customer shopping) by 12.5%.[1]

Millennials particularly love printed catalogs, with 40% of them buying more from companies that provide catalogs.[2]

It's no surprise, then, that nearly 60% of respondents in a survey of online merchants, retailers, manufacturers and publishers report that they are using catalogs as part of their marketing mix.[3]

[1] Kurt Salmon, "Is the Catalog Dead? Not in the Omnichannel World," 2013
[2] Quad Graphics, "Millennials: An Emerging Consumer Powerhouse," December 2015
[3] Multichannel Marketing Magazine, "2012-13 Outlook Survey: Catalogs."

Do consumers find print ads credible?

Yes! While 60% of consumers trust newspaper and magazine ads, just 48% trust search advertising or online video ads, and only 42% find online banner ads worthy of their trust. [1]

Plus, as a 2014 survey of over 1,800 people in Ontario, Canada showed that consumers consider print flyers more valuable than the online or email versions by a significant margin. [2]

[1] Nielsen, "Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages," September 2013
[2] BrandSpark International, Ontario consumer research study, November 2014

Are print ads effective?

One recent study shows that newspaper ads rank noticeably higher than ads on radio, TV or online-only sites when it comes to measures of advertising effectiveness such as "usually notice ads" and "likely to purchase." [1]Another recent study shows that magazines outperform TV and online for critical purchase drivers such as brand awareness, brand favorability and brand purchase intent. [2]

In addition, when Nielsen analyzed 11 key marketing touch points (i.e. sources that consumers refer to before and during shopping), they found that more than half of all US shoppers still leverage print at least once a week to seek product and sales information. Although just three of the touch points analyzed were print and eight were digital, print produced far greater shopper engagement – nearly 20 points higher than the next-closest digital touch point, emails. [3]

[1]Nielsen, "2013 National Cross-Media Engagement Study"
[2] MPA, "Magazine Media Fact Book, 2013-2014"
[3] Nielsen, Touchpoints Shopper Survey, April 2014

Which do people prefer to read: print or digital communications?

Surveys have shown that Americans prefer paper-based media. 70% of respondents (including 69% of 18 to 24 year olds) stated that they "prefer to read print and paper communications, rather than reading off a screen." The majority of respondents (67%) said that paper is more pleasant to handle and touch than other media. [1]

In addition, even with the rise in the popularity of e-books, a recent Pew study showed that print remains the foundation of American's reading habits. Almost seven in ten American adults (69%) read a print book in 2013, while 28% read an e-book and 14% listened to an audiobook. [2]

[1] Two Sides, "Electronic Media vs. Print: All Generations Prefer Paper," November 2011
[2]Pew Research, "A Snapshot of Reading in America in 2013"