Why people still love the feel of paper in their hands

As my friends at St Austell Printing Co (@austellprint) will no doubt agree, paper is great.

So great in fact that, despite the planet-shaking explosion in online and social media, people still love it and still respond to it.

My view is backed by the Royal Mail which revealed in January this year their 'MailMen' campaign based on extended research into people's relationship with their mail.

As campaign partner Mike Welsh, of Publicis Chemistry, said:  “Mail has fallen out of fashion but the digital revolution has created a new and vital role for the medium. 18 months of research have proved that consumers engage and value mail more than ever – and this has given us a fantastic story to provoke a re-appraisal.”

For mail read: paper. The campaign was based on how much more powerful a medium it is than email or even TV.

Only last week I decided to take pen to paper and write, yes write, an actual letter, to an old friend of mine who I rarely see but care very much about. I started off with a few lines inside a nice card and I thought that would probably do it but soon I had written on both inside leaves and the back and had to get some paper to continue on! She was so surprised and delighted that she called me the moment she received it.

The thing is, we never send or receive letters any more and many companies are forgetting the power of the medium of paper.

These are some reasons why I believe it still means so much:

  1. It is nostalgic; reminding us of the days before email (don't forget that most 40+ adults started work before email was in general use) and that reminds us of those happy times before mortgages and the responsibilities of modern adult life.
  2. It can feel really nice. Promise I'm not on commission from SAPC but believe me they have some truly lovely stock: different finishes and weights really do convey something that cannot be achieved through a computer screen.
  3. It lasts. A beautifully designed, thoughtful leaflet, postcard, flyer or brochure can be a thing people want to hang onto. Think business cards: why do they persist in the face of mobile phones? Because they can be beautiful things and because they tell us much more about the person who gave it to us than a random contact added to your phonebook. They evoke.

And it is this evocativeness that I want to impress upon you, dear reader. The message that can be conveyed through paper is undoubtedly strong and it is certainly different to the message conveyed in other ways.  

Used in conjunction with other media, paper is like the imprint left behind when people have stopped looking at the screen.

Oh, and if you're worried about paper waste and sustainability, it's worth checking this out www.twosides.info

So next time you are planning a campaign or a communication with your customers, consider paper for a moment or two and think how you would feel receiving something lovely in the mail.


I should probably practice what I preach shouldn't I? So I pledge to copy this blog out onto some nice paper and post it to three valued contacts - keep an eye on your post.