Print's Power: Show Me and I Will Remember

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PRINT HAS THE POWER TO MAKE A LARGER IMPACT: tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.


According to the evidence, and the experts print is an engaging, effective, and necessary marketing tool. In this digital era print is proving itself as an essential element of the marketing mix. Marketeers; Ignore print at your own peril!

The fact that print is an older media doesn’t mean it’s a bad one, in fact, the more we understand the way the human brain functions, the more we realise how powerful print really is.

As digital moves ahead, it need not necessarily be at the cost of print. Many people, particularly in younger age ranges, want to have a mix of media. For Marketeers, choosing digital over print will only endanger the success of their campaign. As consumers get bombarded more and more by visual messages of all kinds, the brands that stand out are the ones that know how to use all engaging media smartly to connect deeper with customers.

It is estimated that we are exposed to up to 10,000 ads daily (1) as a brand, how do you cut through the noise and get heard?

The ability of print to stimulate a number of key senses gives brands and advertisers a powerful way to engage their customers and cut through the marketing noise.


“We live in a world where we are continuously bombarded by messages. Print cuts through that noise and interacts with the brain in a very different way”- Marine Kerivel-Brown, Marketing Director of Duplo.


In 2015, American neuroscientist and author Dr David Eagleman did a ground-breaking experiment. In it, he took a number of people and asked them to read three versions of a company brochure. The first version was printed on high-quality coated paper, the second on lower-grade uncoated paper, while the third was online. The study found that those who read on high-quality paper understood and remembered the content better than those who read on lower-grade paper or online, and were most likely to recommend the company to friends. A week later, people still preferred the company they read about on the high-quality paper, with name recall highest by a factor of 3:1.

“To touch a thing is to trigger a reaction: as soon as we do, we begin to feel differently about it,” explains Dr Eagleman in Sappi’s fascinating report A Communicator’s Guide to  the Neuroscience of Touch. “We begin to feel we own it, and research shows that makes us value it more.”


Motivation from direct mail was 20% higher than digital’s, this is even higher when the print appeals to more senses beyond touch. (2)

Adding touch to a campaign can increase its value by 24%. (3)

Customers will pay a premium in the range of 24% to 89% for digital print enhancements over CMYK. (3)

In a test by Canada post the most effective print formats were; 1. with scent, 2. the textured mailer, 3. the mailer with sound. All of these formats command a high degree of sensory engagement, tactile or otherwise, suggesting that the more a media stimulates the senses, the more effective it is. (2)


Print has the tactile power to cut through that noise to stimulate the brain in a very different way. Sensory stimulation is a proven tactic in retail; a consumer’s likelihood to purchase is in fact correlated with the number of items they touch.

Whilst the physical texture of paper delivers impressive levels of interaction and engagement with the human brain, using print innovations strengthens the bond, adding a powerful factor of individuality and uniqueness.

Those effects range from relatively simple embossing and debossing to complex material simulations  such as the feel of luxury leather, wood or even car tyre tracks, we can now translate the physical qualities of the end product to the printed page, establishing a connection with your target customer that runs much deeper than just sending them a pretty picture.

Touch isn’t the only sense that can be engaged by print. A number of successful print campaigns have used the power of smell and even taste to increase awareness of their brands and keep them in the memory for longer. Brands have been adding scented inks to their ads, with Liberty Mutual using a new car smell for their recent print ads to promote car insurance, while FIAT, JetBlue, Volkswagen and Fanta have all created edible ads made from potato or rice starch.


“Print is continuing to thrive, pushing innovation boundaries, sophistication and demanding the attention of consumers. Marketeers that value print and use it beyond CMYK will be creating an unforgettable experience for consumers.”


Tactility is one of our most underrated sense. It’s hugely powerful, with Direct Mail, for example, you’re engaging the brain just beyond the visual. We judge the quality of an object by its firmness or texture, that first touch is critical for creating the evaluation of a product in our minds.



As printers we need to influence marketeers and media buyers on how they can enhance their marketing campaigns.

“Many younger buyers (in agencies) are not familiar with print at all, and many older buyers don’t fully understand the benefits of digital printing.” According to one marketer interviewed, “Younger designers are not familiar with print and need regular education.” (4)

Whilst not being fully Familia with print more than half (55%) of brand owner/marketer respondents that influence print purchasing prefer to work with printers/ converters that offer printing enhancement/special effects options. (4)

“Customers need to be shown samples of their jobs with embellishment to see how effective and valuable it is” Print providers interviewed for the research study say they often create a print sample of a customer’s job with special effects to show them the possibilities. Meanwhile, others let them try enhanced work first, without charging for it, to demonstrate how it works. According to a print provider interviewed for the study, “We’ve found showing customers samples of their jobs with embellishment is an effective sales tool.”

Key reasons marketers are not using these enhancements are that they think it is too expensive and it takes too much time to produce, however the majority of brand owners/ marketers do see the benefits of print enhancement, especially for the impression it gives about a brand. Tell them and they will forget, show them and they may remember; involve them and Ithey will understand.


Data Sources;
ELMA Pan European Census 2017
Royal Mail Market research, 2018
Napco Research, January 2020, adding value to digital printing