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5 Significant Reasons Why Print is More Valuable than Digital

If you had to print out the entire Internet, the stack of paper would go further than NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft currently whizzing past Pluto. Thank goodness we do not have to read all that printed information. The fact that the Internet is not printed makes it convenient for us to use. It also means we can get messages “out there” more quickly and efficiently. Plus, if there is a mistake it can be more easily corrected. 

However, new research conducted by the Temple University Center for Neural Decision Making for the United States Postal Service suggests that print has some pretty significant advantages over digital content. While your competitors are busy trying to organize yet more online material, you could find your business improves if you use more print. This is not news to some people. Indeed, I wrote about this notion over a year ago when I said “print still wins in these days of digital.” What is different with this latest study is the psychological impact that has been discovered for print.

1. Engagement time
The study found that people spend more time looking at printed material than they spend on glancing at the same information in digital form. It appears we linger longer over print.

2. Emotional stimulation
Printed materials appear to stimulate our emotions more than digital stuff. The study used biometric analysis of emotional response and found that all the signals of emotional engagement, such as heart rate, sweat production and the amount of body movement, were higher with print than with digital.

3. Memory speed and confidence
People were more confident they could remember printed material than they were with digital information. They were also able to recall information more quickly from print than from digital.

4. Desirability
This is a significant point for ebusiness as it seems that people desire products that are presented to them in printed form, more than they want the same things that are provided digitally. That suggests your conversion rate would be higher for print than for digital.

5. Value judgement
The research found that people provided a higher valuation for items in print than they did for digital. In other words, you can charge more money for items you sell through print compared with online. The full results of the study can be found in this PDF download.

Business Takeaway
This research shows that your business could gain a closer relationship with your customers and achieve additional sales if you use print. Catalogues that lead people to order online, for instance, or handouts describing services rather than asking people to visit a web page, are the kind of things you need. Reconsider how your business can use print to engage with customers. Online is not always the solution.

By Graham Jones

Graham Jones is a psychologist who specializes in Internet use and behavior. He can help your business profit through a better understanding of the online behavior of your customers and potential clients. Learn more about online behavior by following Graham’s website:


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