Younger consumers aren’t seen as the biggest email users, but new research from Adestra finds that email is their preferred way to interact with brands.

When you think of teens and digital communication, what’s the first channel that comes to mind? Probably texting or a social platform like Snapchat, right? That’s true, for communications with friends – but not with brands.

U.K. email marketing company Adestra recently released its Consumer Usage and Digital Adoption report, which found that when it comes to interacting with brands, millennials – er, we mean “teens and young adults” – are all about email. According to the study, nearly 68 percent of teens and 73 percent of twentysomethings prefer communications from businesses to come via email.

“The talk over and over again is that teens use SMS and that’s their primary communication channel. But the end-user thinks not of channel, but not context,” says Ryan Phelan, vice president of marketing communications at Adestra. “When it comes to their friends, they need an immediate response because they’re having a conversation. But when it comes to businesses, there’s not the same immediacy so email is the appropriate medium.”


Among the report’s other findings is that younger consumers use email far more often than many people would think.

About three-quarters of respondents aged 14 to 24 have an email address because “it’s a part of everyday life.” Nearly half say that checking email is the first thing they do in the morning, before even getting out of bed; by contrast, the majority of baby boomers prefer to have coffee first and then get into their email. Additionally, more than 80 percent of 14- to 34-year-olds check email “at random, all day long.”

That’s quite a large age range and it’s likely that the older half of it skews those (Read more...). But Derek Harding, an advisory board member at both Band It and AudiencePoint, points out that while most 14-year-olds don’t spend a ton of time in their inboxes, it’s likely that they will later in life. He adds that Adestra’s results make sense to him.

“There is an explosion of different channels that are available, but email is still the one that is ubiquitous. If you are an organization and you’re trying to use a channel to communicate with people, it makes sense,” says Harding. “Email is the one channel where you can deliver a webpage to any individual you choose on the planet.”

Facebook Messenger, for example, never really took off as a marketing tool. In addition, channels like Facebook Messenger and direct messages on Twitter take away brands’ ability to use HTML in their messages.


Younger consumers sign up for brand emails, primarily for promotions and product information. Forty-seven percent of teens sign up just because they love the brand. Those emails tend to generate more consumer trend than the Facebook posts, both from the brands and their actual friends.

But while young people like receiving emails from brands – more than half won’t sign up to receive marketing texts – they prefer quality over quantity. Nearly 60 percent feel they get too many promotional emails, and even enter old or fake addresses when prompted.

That makes sense to Phelan, given how personal an email address is. That personal nature is what makes email so valuable to people of all ages. It’s a unique identifier – or a “driver license for the digital world,” as Harding puts it. Therefore, if a marketer wants someone’s email address, no matter their age group, there needs to be a clear value proposition.

“You wouldn’t give your social security number to someone if you didn’t know what they were going to use it for. It’s the same thing with retailers; why do you need my email address?” he says.



Younger consumers tend to compartmentalize their communications. They might not be perceived as the biggest email demographic, but it’s far and away their preferred method of interacting with brands; texting is more for friends.

Email is more integral to a teen’s day than people realize and while they’re apt to sign up for promotional emails, that doesn’t mean they want constant communication from brands. This demographic is also more likely than their older counterparts to fill out an email prompt with an old or made-up address.

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