The short answer is no; print marketing is not dead; actually, far from it. While digital marketing has grown in popularity, print marketing still holds a strong foothold and can be very effective in many situations. Research by the Canada Post Corporation found that printed materials required 21% less cognitive effort to process than digital media, which may make them more memorable and easier to recall.
Additionally, specific industries, such as luxury brands or high-end fashion, may find that glossy magazine ads or high-quality brochures are the best way to showcase their products. Interestingly a survey by MarketingSherpa stated that 82% of US adults found printed marketing materials more trustworthy than digital marketing ones.
However, the effectiveness of print marketing campaigns often depends on the target audience, the industry, and the specific campaign goals. For example, local businesses targeting a specific geographic area may find that direct mail or print ads effectively reach their audience more than digital. In addition, when age demographics are factored in, the effective rate can significantly increase print media’s advantage over digital.
Print marketing provides a unique physical and tangible experience that digital marketing cannot replicate. For example, a well-designed brochure or direct mail piece can convey a sense of quality and professionalism, while serving as a lasting reminder for the recipient in ways digital ads cannot.
Unfortunately, you cannot yet lay a digital marketing item on your coffee table or hold onto it like a printed one. Yes, you could screenshot, print or save a pdf, but like most people, our digital desktops become very cluttered and can add to the complexity of simply remembering an ad or marketing item.
Print marketing should, however, only be considered a part of a comprehensive marketing strategy. By combining different channels, businesses can reach a broader audience to maximize their marketing efforts.
The US printing industry is no small sector of the economy either. Employing around 800,000 people nationally, it generates an annual revenue of approximately $84 billion (Printing Industries of America). Globally, it is even more impressive. A report by Smithers stated that the global printing industry was valued at $818 billion in 2018 and is expected to grow to $874 billion by 2023.
That’s not all, though; some additional interesting print industry statistics include:
• In the US, direct mail advertising spending totaled $38.5 billion in 2019 (Data & Marketing Association).
• Magazine advertising spending in the US was $9.44 billion in 2020 (Statista).
• The billboard advertising industry in the US generated $8.4 billion in revenue in 2019 (Outdoor Advertising Association of America).
• The US commercial printing industry generated $76.2 billion in shipments in 2019 (Printing Industries of America).
These statistics indicate that the print marketing industry is still significant in revenue and employment and that various print marketing channels, such as direct mail, magazine ads, and billboards, are still being utilized by businesses to promote their products or services. Print marketing can still be a very effective method of reaching and engaging audiences, but it should be combined with other marketing channels for maximum return on investment.
“MarketingSherpa” study on trustworthiness of printed marketing materials: https://www.marketingsherpa.com/article/chart/trust-in-print-vs-digital-ads
Direct Marketing Association (DMA) response rate study: https://thedma.org/marketing-insights/dma-response-rate-report-2018/
National Retail Federation report on consumer behavior: https://nrf.com/blog/circulars-still-key-driver-consumer-purchases
Canada Post Corporation study on direct mail and cognitive effort: https://www.canadapost.ca/assets/pdf/blogs/CPC_Neuroscience_EN_150717.pdf
FedEx Office survey on small business printing: https://www.fedex.com/content/dam/fedex/us-united-states/shipping/images/SmallBusinessSurvey2019.pdf
Smithers report on global printing industry: https://www.smithers.com/resources/2019/jan/global-printing-industry
Printing Industries of America data on US printing industry: https://www.printing.org/economic-and-industry-data
Data & Marketing Association report on direct mail advertising spending: https://dma.org.uk/uploads/misc/5ee27f7986df9-dma-2020-response-report-1.pdf
Statista data on magazine advertising spending: https://www.statista.com/statistics/236014/advertising-spending-in-the-us-by-media/
Outdoor Advertising Association of America data on billboard advertising industry: https://oaaa.org/AboutOOH/OOHMediaFormats/Billboards.aspx