The Scientific Benefits Of Print Revealed

Every marketing strategy should include an element of printed collateral. It’s something we’ve always been very passionate about – not because we’re old-fashioned but because print still has a greater impact on audiences than any other, even in this digital age.

woman reading book on a bus

A few years ago, we commissioned a study to see why print is so important when seeking to make an impression on an audience – and a big part of it comes down to a human need to want to touch and feel objects.

The brain is built to respond to touch. More than half the brain is devoted to processing sensory experience, and much of that sensory receptivity focuses on touch, as revealed in “A Communicator’s Guide to the Neuroscience of Touch”.

What we touch shapes what we feel, influencing perceptions both consciously and subconsciously about people, situations, companies and brands. Scientific studies show that people who merely touch an object, or even imagine touching it, begin exhibiting a sense of ownership.

But print’s power doesn’t just lie in its ability to make people feel things. It has more strings to its bow than that.

Girl at bookshop

Switching off

Print doesn’t come with the same distractions as a connected device. When reading an ebook, it’s easy to flit between other apps on the device – but when you’ve sat down to read something in print, it's more immersive.

Perhaps it’s unsurprising to find that readers of print books absorb more of the plot than readers of ebooks do, as per a study that was presented in Italy in 2014, cited on

children reading book together

In another study, it was found that digital readers tend to spend more time scanning for keywords than actually processing what they’re reading. According to one survey, more than two-thirds (67%) of university students were able to multitask while reading digitally, compared to 41% of print readers. But if the aim is to process the information you’re reading, multitasking isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Academic achievement

It’s not just adults who are less engaged when reading an ebook compared to a printed book. A study of young children between the ages of three and five revealed that the participants had lower comprehension of the story when their parents read to them from an ebook as opposed to a print book. Researchers suggested this might be because children get distracted by the electronic device and have a harder time focusing on the story itself.

Reading from an early age helps set children up for greater academic achievement. According to a study of readers from 42 countries, students who have books at home are more likely to score higher on tests. A child doesn’t need an adult’s help or permission to pick up a book in the same way they might do an electronic device, making reading more accessible.

woman reading book on a bus

Final word

The scientific research above doesn’t just underline print’s enduring powers in the digital age – it shows why it’s so important to the way we naturally process information as human beings. So, make sure you give print the weighting it deserves in your marketing strategy, giving you readers – no matter their age – something they can truly engage with.


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