By Adam Collinson, Director of Research and Development

There’s a generalization that younger generations are “anti-mail”; and, in some respects, they can be harder to engage. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. While certain millennial messages might be better suited for email or SMS, we’ve seen customers achieve great success reaching young audiences through mail.

Fortunately, one of millennials’ strongest objections to paper mail is also one of the easiest to overcome: sustainability. To reach this ideological audience, remember that the method is as important as the medium, and follow our tips to implementing greener mailing strategy.

1. Commit to Householding.

Many business owners associate sustainability with added cost, but in truth, there are ways to reduce your carbon footprint that conserve time and resources. One of them is householding.

You’re probably already familiar with the practice, where members of a household are grouped together and receive a single mailpiece or package per address.

When it comes to millennials, the practicality of householding has never been more obvious. According to a December 2017 Zillow® analysis, nearly one in three adults lives with a roommate or parent – the greatest share ever reported. A significant driver of this trend is the number of millennials moving back in with family. Nearly 23% of 24 to 36-year-olds now live at home with their parents, almost twice as many as in 2005. (Zillow, 2018).

And while millennials might be inclined to toss an extraneous piece of mail in the bin, their parents are usually less likely to do so. That means your mail could actually be more likely to be opened, vetted, and acted on by a more receptive audience.

2. Keep Up with Address Hygiene.

Like householding, address hygiene offers the benefit of efficiency along with sustainability.

As we know, 30-40 million pieces of mail are deemed undeliverable each month, wasting paper and fuel while chipping away at millennials’ trust and loyalty.

The idea of keeping your mailing list up-to-date is especially critical when it comes to millennials, 74% of whom are renters. (Pew, 2017) As this young and mobile group relocates for jobs, finds new roommates, and settles down with spouses and children, they can be difficult to keep tabs on.

Invest in address hygiene to get a good and complete address (including apartment numbers) to save on postage, increase deliverability, and improve your ability to stay in contact as they relocate.

3. Destroy Responsibly.

Another way to mitigate the impact of undeliverable mail is by opting into the USPS BlueEarth® Secure Destruction Mail Service Program. Using Intelligent Mail® barcode technology, the program identifies, intercepts, and securely shreds Undeliverable-As-Addressed mail that would otherwise be returned to the sender.  

The results speak for themselves. For every 25,000 pieces of Return To Sender mail that the USPS destroys, they reduce an estimated 1 metric ton of CO2 equivalent of carbon emissions. In addition to emission-reduction, the program reduces landfill waste and avoids associated carbon emissions through recycling securely destroyed items.

Mailers can feel confident that the process takes place within secure USPS facilities and is carried out by postal employees to reduce the risk of information exposure.

Best of all, you can opt into the program at no additional cost. Remember by implementing tips 1 and 2 above, you can reduce the volume of undeliverable mail needing to be destroyed.

4. Rethink Your Packaging.

Recently, Seattle made waves by becoming the first city to outlaw plastic straws. Starbucks embraced the change quickly, committing to a full ban by 2020, and countless companies followed suit.

Will paper waste become the next plastic protest? Only time will tell. But for a group that finds personal recycling trivial, it’s becoming clear that the burden now falls on the corporation.

“Millennials are pushing companies to make a positive impact on the world because they believe global problems are too big for individuals to solve,” said Suzanne Shelton, president and CEO of The Shelton Group, a marketing and research firm focused on energy and the environment. “Millennials will reward corporations that take action and address problems for them.”

If you want your company to reap these rewards, consider fronting the burden of waste management by adopting recycled packaging, eliminating styrofoam, reducing the size of your mailings, and exploring eco-friendly materials like mushroom-based packaging.

5. Spread the Word.

Unfortunately, none of your efforts mean much if millennials don’t know about them; so don’t be shy about taking credit for your actions.

Millennials are more likely than other generations to research the issues a company supports, so be sure the messaging is front and center on your marketing materials, social media profiles, and website.

While millennials may not be the only socially conscious generation, they certainly hold corporations to stricter standards than the groups that came before them. To win them over while increasing the impact of your mailing campaigns, try appealing to the issues millennials care about the most – beginning with environmental responsibility.

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