Our latest blog posts

Print engages better: here's the science that proves it

Do you remember the Ikea bookbook™?

In 2015 Ikea launched a revolutionary new catalogue. It was designed to change the way we live. It was not a digital book or an e-book: it was a… real book. It had no cable, no eternal battery life and featured tactile touch technology. Best of all, there was no lag in uploading information and instant navigation.

The launch video was a clever play on the advantages of print over digital catalogues. It was hugely popular. But this wasn’t just a marketing stunt by Ikea, it was based on the fact that print creates better engagement with consumers.

In our last article we highlighted a number of studies that prove that when done correctly, print marketing often achieves better results than digital marketing. But why is this? Below we reveal the science that proves that print can be a very persuasive way to create powerful relationships with your audience. If you want to achieve better results from your marketing activity, you should be seriously considering using print as one of your marketing channels. Here’s why:

1. Print is easier to understand

According to one study by Canada Post and TrueImpact, it is easier to understand information when it is presented through print. The study measured the cognitive load of the brain, through eye tracking and brain wave measurement. It concluded that direct mail requires 21% less cognitive effort to process compared to e-mails and digital advertising. In other words, your message is more likely to be read and understood by consumers. However, this is not the only advantage of print.

2. Print creates desire

Another study used brain scans to compare how recipients viewed digital and paper mediums. One finding was that paper advertising activated the ventral striatum area of the brain more than digital media. The ventral striatum is an indicator of desire and valuation. In other words, there is a better likelihood of people wanting something more if they see it in print and being prepared to buy it or even pay a higher price for it. The Canada Post study also found that print is more persuasive. Of course, the desire to buy only works if people remember what it is that they saw! Print wins here too.

3. Print helps people to remember

Research has been carried out that shows that the brain functions differently when reading print compared to digital. According to one study people who read digital information spend more time on “browsing and scanning, keyword spotting, one‐time reading, non‐linear reading, and reading more selectively”. There was also less sustained attention. People who use print read in a more traditional style were more likely to spend time on in-depth and concentrated reading. This shows why many students retain more information from printed material, as covered in this study. Someone who has received print marketing is more likely to remember your product or brand than if they had received digital communication.

So what does this mean for marketing?

In many instances, if you want people to take action, it may be better to use print rather than digital. You have a higher chance of people understanding your message, acting on it and remembering the marketing materials of yours that they have read.


There can be a reluctance to invest in print, as it is often seen as being too expensive and therefore some people think that it is better to reduce costs by switching to digital. However, reducing costs can turn out to be extremely expensive. Retailers J. Jill and Nordstrom both cut sales forecasts after reducing their direct mail activity. Co-President Erik B. Nordstrom went on record to say that they attributed their drop in sales directly to their reduction in print marketing. In contrast, J C Penny re-introduced a print catalogue and their sales increased by 6%.

Although the science behind it tends to be discussed more in terms of the larger brands and what they are doing, the message is just as appropriate for smaller companies. You may not have the budget for an Ikea style bookbook™ or catalogue, but using leaflets and brochures can be much more effective than digital marketing. Best of all, your marketing is never going to fail because someone’s battery life will always run out!

Looking for REAL print?

Look no further, check out our product range of brochures, leaflets and folders to help you make a lasting impression with your marketing budget.

Leave your comment
No comments have been added yet