The Power of Paper
Henley Centre HeadlightVision argue that posted communications will continue to play an important role.
Mark Potts with Marcus Hickman and Karen Elton - Henley Centre HeadlightVision, London
In the digital age, paper statements and transaction records will increasingly become extinct as electronic records provide a simple and efficient way for companies to communicate with customers, and consumers demonstrate their preference for tidy, paperless solutions. Right? Wrong, according to Henley Centre HeadlightVision. In a contrarian piece of thinking, Henley argues in this piece that for one consumer segment at least, the posted bank statement or bill will increasingly become a way to cut through the plethora of communications being sent out by companies. And for the companies themselves, the paper trail still offers a way to get past the 'gatekeeper' and into the house.
The reasons Henley Centre HeadlightVision believes posted communications will continue to play an important role are in part positive and in part negative. Post, the authors assert, is a daily ritual that people enjoy; it makes journeys throughout the home that emails cannot, and it is considered easier to handle. With e-mails, on the other hand, there are trust and security issues that people find off-putting, and some people simply aren't interested in sitting in front of a computer at home, because it's what they do at work.
Paper is considered safe and comfortable, as well as being easy to digest and archive. So what does this mean for marketers? Basically, a series of challenges. For one thing, there is the challenge of identifying which customer segments prefer paper, and then for which transactions and communications in a way that makes them more engaging, and crucially, ensuring that they are not accidentally discarded.
Thirty or more years ago, the paperless office was being confidently predicted. It may have a time to wait yet.
This abstract originally appeared in volume 11 of WPP's Atticus Journal
Henley Centre HeadlightVision became The Futures Company in 2008