You may think that millennials prefer digital to physical media — online shopping to retail stores, Facebook ads to direct mail, and digital music, movies, and books to their physical counterparts. With as much time as millennials spend on social media, they are often the last group of people expected to love an outdated form of physical media like vinyl — that round, heavy piece of plastic introduced by RCA Victor in 1931. But the vinyl craze shows a different story, and it might just change the way you market to millennials.
In 2016, digital music downloads dropped 25 percent, while vinyl LP sales rose to $416 million, the highest dollar amount this music format has seen since 1988. According to the Record Industry Association of America, vinyl went from 900,000 units sold in 2007 to over 12 million in 2015. For some reason, people have purchased more vinyl in the past 10 years than they did in the last 20 years combined. But why?
Well, according to David Sax, author of The Revenge of Analog, millennials have largely fueled vinyl’s renaissance. As iPods and Facebook became coveted by parents, these young people searched for something different. It’s a story that never seems to change. Once parents love something, it’s no longer rock ‘n’ roll.
So parents left their dusty old turntables and record collections in garages and storage units. And kids began wiping them clean and buying vinyl in droves. According to Digital Music News, most new turntables today are purchased by those 35 and under.
Crosley, a company that has manufactured turntables since the 1980s, went from advertising turntables in Skymall catalogs to selling a collection of two dozen different types of turntables. Some models even featured these kids’ favorite bands, a la One Direction.
The company now sells over 1 million turntables each year. Their new demographic? You guessed it — millennials. According to Elizabeth Braun, Crosley’s former VP of sales and marketing, “our new demographic has never seen a turntable — never touched a record.”
Okay, So What Does This Have To Do With YOUR business?
By using what millennials are interested in to speak to them, you’ll be more successful in your marketing efforts. And right now, millennials like physical media.
In fact, according to Business Insider, millennials even use coupons more than their parents! Over the past six months, 47 percent of millennials used printed-out coupons for their purchases! If that’s not old school, I don’t know what is.
Millennials don’t want another iTunes music download made of ones and zeroes; they want vinyl that they can see and touch. Millennials don’t want digital books downloaded to their Kindles and computers; they want print books on their bookshelves. Even further, they don’t want another ad to ignore, or another email in their inbox to delete.
Millennials like physical media because physical products give them an experience. Just like vinyl, which millennials can unwrap, unfold, and place on their turntable, millennials would rather have a real piece of physical media. They appreciate products like print newsletters, products they can remove from their mailbox, open, unfold, and consume while sitting on their couch, drinking their morning cup of coffee.
And better yet, sitting on a couch reading YOUR newsletter is a novel experience, because they rarely get mail. Even bills are sent via email and paid online without a paper invoice ever touching a mailbox. This makes direct mail marketing all the more exclusive and anticipated.
You Can Use Physical Media To Create Your Own Fan Club
Out of necessity, the music industry integrated physical media for the sake of millennials, who currently consume 75 percent more music than baby boomers, according to Digital Music News. In fact, Mac Demarco, an indie artist, even sends his fans birthday cards, concert tickets, and the Official Mac Demarco Fan Club Newsletter using direct mail. When 20,000 songs are added to Spotify every single day, direct mail sets artists apart in this inundated industry.
To stand out from the overwhelmingly large crowd of musicians vying for the same millennial attention, countless musicians have also turned to unique hand-made physical products and freebies in an effort to differentiate themselves from the digital noise.
Now, millennials flock to custom hand-knitted sweaters from Twenty One Pilots, ceramic Taylor Swift coffee mugs, U2-branded puzzles, and even custom M&Ms from Kiss to take home after live shows. Justin Bieber even has a shower curtain with his face on it.
Useful Marketing Gets More Results
While these particular examples of physical media might seem odd, don’t you think that if you sent a millennial a cool custom beanie featuring your logo, they’d wear it in cool weather? Or if you sent them a fluffy beach towel with your branding, wouldn’t they would use it by the pool in the summer? You bet they would. Because not only does it look cool, it’s useful.
If you send a physical print newsletter with useful content in the mail, you’re music to a millennial’s ears. You stand out. Over time, millennials will even look forward to reading your newsletter. Here at The Newsletter Pro, we’ve had many clients and prospects save every single edition of our newsletter in organized binders. It’s because they love them so much.
While vinyl used to be scorned for taking up space, it’s now relished for those tangible qualities. Unlike the ones and zeroes that make up an iTunes download, vinyl is a real product. And that real product creates an experience for the consumer, which translates into prideful ownership.
Wouldn’t it be great if millennials felt that strongly about you, your company, and your brand?
If you want millennials to feel a sense of pride and ownership in your brand, speak their language. Don’t throw another Facebook ad or email at them. All they want is a useful physical product that features you in a genuine and novel way.
Like digital music, digital marketing will only make you another drop in the ocean.
Like vinyl, direct mail marketing will make you a wave.
Create your own fan club through monthly custom print newsletters. Learn more by clicking the button and requesting a copy of our Amazon bestseller, The Ultimate Guide to Newsletters.