How brands, behavior and direct mail impact Gen Z and Millennials

5 minute read

Digitally fluent, socially conscious, wildly demanding – Millennials (born 1981 to 1994) and Gen Z (born 1995 to 2004) have a lot more in common than they are willing to admit. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that these 2 generations are re-shaping how marketing and advertising connect with consumers.

We wanted to know the impact of direct mail in the lives of these generations. So, we asked.

You are bombarded by messages – anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 cross your paths every day. Do you feel annoyed by the it all?

Elizabeth (Gen Z) | I don’t feel too overwhelmed. A lot of the ads I get are through social media, so usually that’s done through influencer marketing or a company trying to make their ad mimic what people I follow would post. I often don’t realize I’m even being advertised to until I look at the caption and see #advertise, #ad or something along those lines, or an influencer is producing the content that seems a little off or unnatural. Being Gen Z, I’m already overly aware I’m getting advertised to in every aspect of my life. I wouldn’t say I feel overwhelmed. In fact, I enjoy seeing ads to see the creative aspects of how these companies are presenting their products and services.

Britney (Millennial) | I do not feel overwhelmed either. The brands I follow do an effective job of personalizing content that fits what they know I’ve been actively looking for. The more the merrier – the more brands that want to provide similar product to what I’ve been looking for or retarget me with products that I’ve already expressed interest in, I’m here for it. And if they want to follow up with an offer, even better.

Ways of looking at the world

Gen Z and Millennials believe in their ability to impact change through their everyday actions.

Does a brand’s commitment to the environment honestly influence your purchases?

Britney (Millennial) | I typically will look at the ‘about us’ page of a website before I make a purchase with a new brand just to see what they’re all about. One of the brands I do regular business with, for example, provides a bunch of different options with regards to what kind of packaging you want. You can select a more sustainable packaging option, which is a great way to provide sustainably conscious consumers the ability to lessen their footprint as they’re making purchases.

Elizabeth (Gen Z) | These kind of options make me a lot happier and more willing to go and shop with them.

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Embracing the mailbox

Don’t let their digital affinity fool you! Gen Z and Millennials love to read their mail.

Why is direct mail effective in reaching your generation?

Elizabeth (Gen Z) | A lot of the ads I get in my day-to-day life are generally online. I’m not actively taking in the information because they are seamlessly going into and out of my social media feeds. I’m not aware I’m even being advertised to. But when I get a direct mail piece, I’m actively aware what I’m looking at is an advertisement. With any ad, I am looking to answer: What’s the point? Why did you reach out to me? Whether it’s through a promotion or a sample, direct mail is clear and will drive to go do something with it.

Britney (Millennial) | When direct mail is part of an integrated marketing campaign, it’s super effective. I love to interact with brands digitally to get to know them first. Then, if they follow up with me with a piece of direct mail, I find that extremely effective, especially if there’s some kind of incentive or offer baked into that communication. That makes me want to engage or interact further. For smaller businesses, especially, like a local painter or real estate agent, direct mail does a great job of raising awareness about who they are and how successful they are.

Does personalization play a role in this effectiveness?

Elizabeth (Gen Z) | My generation was born with an email. So because we don’t get regular mail all the time, when we get a piece of direct mail, especially with our name on it, we’re driven to be like, ‘Oh, they’re specifically speaking to me.’

Britney (Millennial) | Depends. If it’s a brand I’ve interacted with a lot in the past, and if they’re using my name to market to me, perfect. That’s great. For brands I’m not familiar with, I don’t need my name on there. Let’s just keep it generic and high level until I get to know you a little bit better and then you can start working my name into the mix.

Something for everyone

The formats that work best for targeting Gen Z and Millennials:

Does direct mail create a sense of excitement for your generation?

Elizabeth (Gen Z) | Mail can be exciting because of the simple fact I don’t get mail every day. If a brand gives me a promotion or a sample, that can definitely drum up excitement. On top of that, if they give me a QR code, I can go from offline to online to explore their whole category of products. If they give me time-sensitive promotion, I am more inclined to act. Something about having the direct mail right in my hands right now. When they do that online, I know I can come back to that later. But when it’s direct mail, it’s more immediately and urgent.

Britney (Millennial) | Direct mail does a good job of cutting through the noise of what I’m seeing all the time on digital. It’s an effective way to get me, at least, to pick up and look at your brand. If I don’t interact further, send me a few more and who knows.

Meet Gen Z IRL

Hear from our experts about who these emerging consumers are, what they want and, more importantly, what it all means for your business.

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1 All statistics are from, Understanding the impact of direct mail inside Canadian homes, Canada Post, February 2023.