Study: Consumers Want Print for Important Information

We’ve previously made the case in this space that print still matters as an effective and, sometimes, more powerful method of communication when compared with digital messaging. Using past studies, we’ve pointed to how our brains are more engaged by information presented to use on paper than on a screen, how consumers tend to trust print over digital and how print simply stands out more.

As it turns out, U.S. consumers value print communications more than we even thought.

A recent survey commissioned by Two Sides, an organization dedicated to advocating for print sustainability, shows just how much more consumers prefer printed materials to digital.

The Survey

Conducted in June 2016, this study surveyed 2,323 U.S. respondents, in age brackets ranging from 18 -24, to 55 and over, and every age grouping in between in roughly equal measures. Furthermore, people working in the paper or printing allied industries were excluded from the survey to keep the results representative of general consumers.

Print Statements Preferred

One substantial takeaway from this study was a whopping 79% of respondents want the option to continue receiving printed information from their service providers. Respondents expressed that print provides a more permanent record than a digital alternative, making it a near essential consumer need.

Furthermore, 77% said they would dislike if they had to pay a premium for paper bills and statements. Consumers clearly feel digital is not a reliable replacement. Furthermore, almost half of all respondents – 49% – noted that they have “unreliable internet access.” Oftentimes, we tend to think that everyone has the same level of internet capability and access; these results throw that conclusion out the window. If half your clients aren’t capable of reliably accessing the information, then you need to change your strategy.

Better Experience

On top of improved accessibility and a greater sense of authority, this survey also offered some insight into just how much more consumers prefer reading information on paper rather than screen. A whopping 79% said they preferred paper to screen, and even more surprisingly, 79% of 18 to 24 year olds also stated that paper is their preferred medium. Even a generation who has grown up on screens still prefers paper. That’s huge for the future of the industry.

Distrust of Digital Motivations

On top of these answers, many respondents also tended to feel like efforts companies made to get customers to switch to paperless communication was a “cost saving” measure for the companies. 85% of respondents said phrases like “Go Paperless – Go Green,” were more motivated by money than an actual concern for the environment.

Taken all together, this study is enlightening for organizations debating how much they should still rely on print to communicate important information to their clients. Statements, bills and notices, as it turns out, are widely desired in paper by most consumers.

We may rely on screens more than ever to conduct our day-to-day business, but when it comes to essential information, we still rely on paper.

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