A case study called ‘Understanding Direct Mail with Neuroscience’ by Millward Brown describes a research done by the UK’s Royal Mail investigating how the brain processes physical marketing materials, such as direct mail, compared to virtual (or digital) materials presented on a screen.
During the research, 20 participants were shown both ads on a screen and ads printed on a postcard. While participants interacted with the material, brain scans were used to assess how the processing of marketing messages was affected by the medium of presentation.
The Power of Physical Material
- Physical materials stimulate sight and touch
- The offer/product is always within reach
- Print convinces with content, design and haptics
- Physical presentation may be generating more emotionally vivid memories
- Print underlines the company’s value, it’s products and services
- The reader decides actively to interact with the content – there’s no second screen
- The individuals were relating information to their own thoughts and feelings
- The personal effect aids motivation to act
- For print there are nearly no creative boundaries (size, color, form) to create an emotional connection to the recipient
The research strongly suggests that greater emotional processing is facilitated by the physical material than the virtual.