2022 Global Messaging Engagement Report

Customer communications preferences from around the world.

Consumers’ communication preferences are constantly changing as their relationships with technology evolve. While tried-and-true channels like email have remained a reliable way to get in front of customers and prospects, newer channels—such as social media and webchat—are increasingly winning over recipients with convenience. Brands need to pay attention to these ever-changing user preferences to meet customers where they are and win their loyalty for life.

To help, we’ve been measuring and tracking changing consumer communication preferences since 2020 in our Global Messaging Engagement Report. In this year’s report, we’ve compiled quantitative and qualitative data and insights from messaging recipients across the globe, including Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States (US). Read on to learn how your email and SMS communications strategies can keep up with what the modern global consumer wants.

What’s inside this year’s report?

First and foremost, the 2022 Global Messaging Engagement Report has expanded to include an additional country, Brazil. Now with data from 6 countries—Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, the UK, and the US—we’re giving you an even more in-depth look at what consumers across the globe want and expect from branded communications.

In addition to the questions we’ve asked our participants to answer in our 2020 report, we’ve added a few new questions on personalization to this year’s report. While hyper-personalization is changing marketing, many consumers still seem torn between wanting more content customized to their interests and behaviors vs. not wanting to share personal information with brands. To better understand customer sentiment around personalization, we’ve added the following questions to this year’s report: 

  • Would you be willing to share more personal information with brands if it allowed for more personalized emails?
  • Which types of personalization do you like to see in an email?

Of course, we’ll also compare this year’s data to the previous report and map any shifts in consumer preferences to help your brand understand how customers’ preferences are changing and how you can stay ahead of the curve.

Chapter 2: Report Methodology

Like in the previous year, we’ve put together this report using data collected from both a quantitative online survey and qualitative ethnographic study conducted in Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, the UK, and the US. Here’s a closer look at our methodology. 

Quantitative online study

To better understand global consumers’ email and SMS preferences, we sent a 20-question survey to 800 respondents from each of the 6 countries in our report. The survey included questions like:

  • How often do you typically check your personal email?
  • Which factors would influence your decision to click a link within an email? 
  • Which factors influence your decision to engage with an SMS/MMS message?
  • What do you find frustrating about your email and SMS inboxes?
  • And more

Of the 800 respondents from each country, 200 individuals fell into each of the following age groups: Gen Z (18–24), millennials (25–35), Gen X (36–50), and baby boomers (51–65). The total survey sample size was 4,800 respondents.

Qualitative ethnographic study

Next, we recruited 20 participants (5 per age group) from each country to participate in a qualitative study to help us understand their email and SMS preferences more in-depth. To start, we had them track their email usage over the course of 5 days to learn what role personal email plays in their lives and unearth any generational differences. Each day, our participants received a prompt to answer 3–5 questions, film short video responses, and share screenshots and phone screen recordings of their inboxes. This helped us understand each participant’s impressions of and emotional reactions to the emails and texts they received throughout the day. 

At the end of the 5 days, we then scheduled a 30 to 45-minute phone interview with each individual to review their responses and learn more about their personal email habits and preferences. This helped us further flesh out our findings from the quantitative survey. It also helped us to better understand exactly what recipients around the world and different generations like and dislike about branded communications. 

Chapter 3: Key Global Findings

While the respondents in every country we surveyed had distinct email and SMS opinions and preferences, collectively, they actually agreed on more than you might expect. Here’s a look at the top 7 takeaways we found this year: 

1. Email is still king

Across the world, email is still consumers’ preferred method of communicating with brands they love. In fact, 18% of all global respondents listed it as one of the top 3 channels they engage with most often. That should come as no surprise as checking email inboxes is a deeply ingrained daily habit for most consumers. We also found that 77% of global recipients refresh their inboxes at least once a day, if not more frequently. Additionally, nearly a third of recipients, or 31%, actually check their email between 2 and 5 times a day to ensure they don’t miss any critical messages or timely discounts from their favorite brands.

The only anomaly in our report was Germany, where only 4% of respondents placed email in their top 3 communications channels. Instead, many Germans preferred to interact with search engines, audio, and video ads over email. This could be because Germans are more protective of their private communications channels than other global consumers. As such, many German respondents preferred to reserve their email and SMS inboxes for personal use rather than receive branded messages.

2. SMS/MMS marketing comes in a close second

After email, SMS/MMS is the next most popular communications channel global consumers prefer to interact with regularly. This finding remains unchanged from our 2020 report, with 14% of respondents still listing text messages in their top 3 communications channels. 

When we look at the results by country, however, SMS had varied results. France had the largest number of SMS fans, with texts making it into 25% of respondents’ top 3 communications channels. While similarly popular in the US, UK, and Brazil, Germans don’t appreciate branded SMS/MMS messages. German consumers tend to guard their privacy and data more closely than their global counterparts, making them reluctant to give out their phone numbers even to their favorite brands. Most Germans said they would only accept or want a text message from a brand if it was for two-factor authentication (2FA), account security, or shipping notifications.

3. New communications channels are emerging in popularity

In 2020, 22% of our survey respondents listed email as one of their top 3 channels, while that number dropped to 18% this year. Could this mean it’s time for email to share the spotlight? Possibly, given that the last 2 years certainly shook things up and pushed consumers to adopt new routines and preferences. Compared to data from our 2020 report, the number of respondents listing search, video, and audio ads in their list of the top 3 channels they engage with the most increased significantly:

  • Search ads grew from 9% (2020) to 11% (2022) 
  • Video ads grew from 7.5% (2020) to 10.8% (2022)
  • Music ads grew from 5.1% (2020) to 6.3% (2022) 

Even with these channels gaining popularity among global consumers, we predict email and SMS will remain effective and reliable channels for brands to reach and engage customers. Still, these changing user preferences are an important reminder to test new marketing strategies and see what resonates best with your audience.

4. Message frequency and irrelevancy frustrates recipients

Even though consumers check their email and texts daily, not everyone expects (or wants) to hear from your brand every day. The majority of our participants said receiving too many messages from a brand is frustrating and annoying. In fact, 52% of global respondents said they would unsubscribe if a company emailed them every day. This number jumps even higher for recipients in Brazil, France, the UK, and the US.

Frequency isn’t the only email characteristic frustrating consumers. In fact, 24% of global respondents listed irrelevant content as a top turnoff, 21% were annoyed by unknown senders, and 20% hated seeing grammatical errors and spelling mistakes in their inboxes. SMS recipients shared almost identical responses, with frequency (23%), message irrelevance (22%), and unknown sender (19%) making it to the top of their lists. 

In our recipient interviews, most added that they aren’t against receiving more frequent emails as long as they provide value. For example, customers don’t want to be notified of the same sale 3 times in a week. That repetitive messaging annoys them and could push them to unsubscribe. Instead, if those same 3 emails contained product recommendations customized to their past buying behavior, a deal on one of their most frequently bought items, and a timely company update, recipients said they would be more likely to overlook the message frequency and engage with these messages. 

5. Attitudes toward personalization are shifting

Personalization isn’t just a buzzword. It has proven an effective way to advance customer relationships and drive conversions—and customers want more of it. About 57% of our global respondents said personalization would strongly or somewhat influence whether they find an email memorable.

When asked if they’d be willing to share additional information with their favorite brands to help them serve up more personalized content, almost half (47%) of all consumers said they’d be willing. Still, 23% of respondents said they wouldn’t want to share more personal info with businesses, while 30% remained unsure of the idea. 

Here are a few of the qualities and attributes that our global consumers found to make for memorable emails and brand experiences:

  • Using a recipient’s first name in the subject line or body of an email
  • Including topics related to their interests, needs, and past purchases
  • Offering special gifts or offers on their birthdays and subscription anniversaries
  • Having seasonal discounts and holiday promotions

If your business is just getting started with personalization, don’t worry. Only 24% of our global recipients said they like it when a brand uses their name in the subject line or email body. But if you’re looking to take your business a step further with your customer data, 28% of respondents said they would love to see brands send them content personalized to their interests. On the other hand, 21% would enjoy receiving product recommendations based on their past purchases.

6. Gen Z vs. Millennials

We also wanted to look closer at two key demographics—Get Z and millennials—to see where their communication preferences align and differ. We found that both generations have almost identical preferences. Globally, email is the most popular communications channel among Gen Z and millennial respondents, with 15% and 16% listing email in the top 3 channels, respectively. While SMS is the second-most popular channel across all generations, both Gen Z and millennials prefer to communicate with brands on social media before SMS. 

So, what do these two generations want to see in promotional emails? Here are a few pieces of advice Gen Z and millenial respondents wanted to share with brands:

  • “What frustrates me is the lack of engagement used in the subject of an email, as it then doesn’t catch my attention or help me know at a glance what the message content is about.” — U.K.-based Gen Z respondent
  • “I prefer a longer and less frequent emails. I won’t get it every day, so when it does arrives I’ll have more time to open and read it.” — Brazil-based millennial respondent
  • “Keep it concise! No big blocks of text, which are boring and discourage reading.” — U.K.-based Gen Z respondent
  • “I always like to receive emails about different sales, promotions, or new product information from fashion stores, so I tend to always open those emails if they’re from a store I know and trust. ” — Japan-based millennial respondent
  • “I definitely prefer my emails to have images and videos. I feel graphics and videos make emails more fun and visually pleasing.” — U.S.-based Gen Z respondent

Where these preferences diverge is message frequency. In the U.S., 43% of millennials shared they’re open to receiving daily emails from brands, while only 35% of Gen Z respondents said the same. In fact, 62% of Gen Zers said they would unsubscribe from an email list if they received daily emails.

While there are slight differences between each of these generations, they’re more similar than you might think. That’s good news for your marketing team, since your strategies for both of these generations can be aligned—just allow for your users to indicate how frequently they want to hear from your brand. 

7. Don’t be afraid to have fun

Although our respondents said too-frequent emails would push them to unsubscribe, they shared that there’s one thing that would convince them to stay: valuable content. It turns out consumers don’t mind message frequency so much if your business is sending them interesting, relevant content. 

We’ve already discussed how personalization can help boost engagement. Now let’s look at how email content and design can also encourage your recipients to interact with your messages. Colors and catchy content can help make your emails stand out. In fact, 51% of global consumers said colors and layout somewhat or strongly influence how memorable they found an email, while 64% said the same for catchy and fun content.

All this is to say, experiment with your emails. Try using eye-catching designs, puns, and a playful tone to appeal to your audience and stand out in their crowded inboxes. If your recipients find your messages fun and valuable, they’ll be glad to see and open your emails when they appear in their inboxes.

For many Americans, reaching for their phone and checking their email and texts is one of the first things they do in the morning. Some go so far as to admit they rarely talk to anyone anymore and have come to strictly rely on email and text messaging as their primary modes of communication. Even so, Americans don’t have a lot of time and want to know immediately whether a message is worth their time or not. 

Here’s what else we found out about US consumers and how they prefer to receive branded messages: 

1. Older generations love email and SMS 

In our quantitative survey, baby boomers were the most likely to engage with email and SMS/MMS messages, with 27% listing email and 18% listing SMS in the top 3 communications channels they engage with the most.

“As soon as I wake up, the first thing I do is grab a Diet Coke and check my email. It’s the first thing I check on my phone. Email sets the tone for the entire day and lets me know what I have ahead of me.”

US-based baby boomer

2. SMS/MMS should be used wisely

Texts are still seen as personal and reserved for close friends/family or urgent matters by most US consumers. Many of our US survey participants expressed that email makes it easier to find and return to a promo or offer later, whereas individual texts are easily forgotten and get lost among the high volume of messages they receive every day. They also shared that they would become quickly annoyed upon receiving multiple promotional texts throughout the day. Still, a small percentage of recipients said they’d be open to accepting branded text messages if they were rare and/or only sent when extremely time-sensitive.

“I don’t want to get ads as texts. Texts should be for more urgent things. I check my email regularly, but I wish I would get less texts from companies.”

US-based millennial

3. Sender matters

Seeing a trusted sender is often all that US email recipients require to open and read a message. In fact, 46% of respondents said the email sender would strongly influence their decision to open an email or ignore it. Consumers place a higher priority on emails that come from the people they know, their school and work, their financial institutions, their healthcare providers, as well as their favorite stores and brands.

While most US consumers are still hesitant about receiving promotions via text, you can gain their trust by ensuring the sender is always clear and recognizable to them. Make your emails and SMS/MMS messages easily identifiable by using a clear sender name and consistent messaging/design elements. This can make your recipients less likely to ignore your mail or worse, mark it as spam.

4. Subject lines need to entice

US consumers are more likely to open and read an email if the subject line is concise, direct, easy to understand, and clearly communicates the message’s intent. In fact, 68% of US respondents said the right subject line can strongly or somewhat strongly influence them to open an email. 

If you’re looking for other ways to reel consumers in, our US recipients said they also appreciate when brands incorporate creativity, humor, and puns into their subject lines. Plus, a little personalization can’t hurt either—21% said they like to see their name used in an email subject line.

5. Emojis have a time and place

Using emojis in subject lines is quite polarizing across all age groups, although acceptance is slowly growing. Across all age groups, only 10% of US respondents found them to be a turnoff in emails. But most of our participants agreed they don’t want to see more than a couple on a line and wanted the meaning and use to be clear and unambiguous. Of course, US consumers said that emojis should only be used if business appropriate—e.g., by creative brands, but not by banks or healthcare providers.

“If I could improve one thing about the text messages I receive from companies, it would likely be frequency. I feel like I get texted too frequently when I sign up for SMS. I realize I receive lots of messages in my email, but I can check those when I am ready rather than my phone constantly going off.”

US-based Gen Zer

Want even more insight into US consumers' email & SMS preferences?


Most Brazilian consumers view email as a part of their daily routine as well as an efficient way to keep up with their favorite brands and keep track of important information. Unfortunately, most Brazilians don’t view SMS/MMS messages the same. In addition to many users finding text messaging to be practically out of use, many fear they’ll fall victim to a scam or virus if they open or click on a link in an SMS message—even if the SMS messages come from well-known companies.

Email, on the other hand, allows brands to share more exciting and descriptive written and visual content with recipients while also making it easier to identify and verify a sender. Below, we’ll share a few of our discoveries for how best to engage your Brazilian audience:

1. Brands should use SMS sparingly and smartly 

While most Brazilian recipients fear engaging with SMS/MMS messages can cause them to fall for a scam or download a virus on their device, they understand these can be a practical solution for informational and security purposes. In fact, most of our participants agreed they’d accept SMS messages to receive bank or credit card spending notices, verification codes or passwords resets, and the delivery status of an online order. Outside of those use cases, most Brazilians don’t see the value in companies taking advantage of SMS for promotional communications as the content is plain, short, and lacks images.

2. Customers crave customization

Many of our Brazilian respondents crave email content customized to their interests, with 71% saying personalization is strongly or somewhat strongly influential in making an email memorable. This “email was made for me” feeling might come from the subject line itself, a reference to the customer’s name/location, or the content demonstrating the brand knows the customer’s buying behavior/interests.

“I believe that it’s fine for brands to use some data that they have already collected to offer me products that they know that I would like. On some sites, I make a wish list, so it could say: ‘[My name], there is an exclusive discount for the items on your wish list.’ I feel that’s an email catered specifically to me.”

Brazil-based Gen Xer

3. Businesses can avoid over-personalization by being discreet

While customers are becoming more and more comfortable with personalization, many still find it intrusive and off-putting. Brazilian consumers told us they think “very personal” data like dates of purchases, payment methods used, home or business addresses, and family details should be off-limits for brands. While most customers are OK with brands using data collected from their browsing sessions on the company’s website to customize their content, that’s where they draw the line. 

Any data brands collect outside of the businesses’ website—like phone conversations, social network posts, or any information the customer didn’t explicitly share with the business—makes Brazilian customers uncomfortable and can actually push them away from the brand. This is especially more common among Gen Xers and baby boomers. While younger generations are less likely to be completely turned off by this type of targeting, they would prefer if brands used their data in a gentler, more discrete way.

4. Recipients are turned off by aggressive and irrelevant messages 

While Brazilian recipients like email as a communications channel, they certainly don’t love every message that lands in their inbox. Emails that make the consumer feel aggressively “hunted” are big turnoffs for Brazilians. That includes any messages they receive from companies where they were never customers, they never requested any type of communication, or they’ve repeatedly opted out of the communications. We found that 24% of all our Brazilian respondents agree message irrelevance was their biggest email pet peeve.


“Oftentimes, when you make an in-store purchase, you say that you don't want to receive their newsletter and yet they send it anyway. I’m disgusted by that and I find it very annoying.”

Brazil-based millennial

5. Message frequency does matter

Brazilians were fairly split on how frequently they want to hear from their favorite brands, with 38% open to receiving daily emails and 33% only wanting one message per week across all generations. That said, our qualitative interviews confirmed that Brazilian consumers are very tired and annoyed by receiving the same message over and over again within a few days. For example, they’re open to receiving multiple emails if there is new information, like a new promotion or launch, but don’t want to hear about the same 25% off sale again and again. Be sure to vary your email content and only send messages that are relevant to your customers’ interests to avoid this email fatigue.

Chapter 6: United Kingdom

In the UK, SMS skepticism remains. While UK recipients deem email less invasive than text messages, they unanimously requested more tailored, shorter emails to prompt engagement and value and to help keep their inboxes manageable. Here’s a closer look at how UK consumers approach branded communications and how your brand can cater to these preferences.

1. Recipients are still skeptical of SMS

Like other global recipients, UK consumers find branded text messaging to be intrusive on a channel they prefer to reserve for personal use. Many actively avoid giving out their phone numbers and prefer receiving alerts/communications from companies via email only to avoid being bombarded or spammed.

In our 2020 report, 29% of UK recipients said they seldom or never interacted with SMS messages, while that number increased to 35% in this year’s survey. Today, only 17% say they frequently or very frequently interact with branded texts. 

The only expectations of this preference are if the SMS/MMS messages contain timely, important information, such as: 

  • A confirmation of an appointment or booking 
  • A purchase dispatch or delivery notification
  • A security code or password reminder 

Still, using texting as a form of marketing or a promotional tool is a no-go for most UK respondents. 

2. Brands get more opens with offers and promotions

UK recipients receive a high volume of email each day, so they want to ensure the messages that do land in their inbox are worthy of their time and attention. An impressive 74% of respondents said an offer or promotion is strongly or somewhat influential in convincing them to open an email. Although 79% saying it would have the same influence on their decision to click a link. 

What makes an offer compelling enough to convince consumers to open or click on an email? It boasts significant reductions over 25% off. Even then, pushing the same messaging too often undermines any sense of exclusivity or must-have mindset. The time-limited discounts must be genuine, said UK consumers, and shouldn’t continue or reappear a couple of days later or the following week.

3. Consumers are annoyed by frequent, repetitive, or lengthy emails

High frequency, repetitive, or lengthy emails are quickly dismissed by UK consumers, as are those with old-fashioned layouts or a random combination of topics. UK consumers say they dislike feeling pressured, bored, or confused and can’t be bothered to take the time to read these messages, so they delete them or try to unsubscribe. They get especially upset when brands send follow-up SMS/MMS messages containing the same information.

Additionally, over-personalization can rub recipients the wrong way, too. UK consumers said they are uncomfortable when companies they don’t have a relationship with use their first names, imply they know their likes/dislikes, or even send them location-specific updates. For example, “There’s an event happening just 2 miles from your home.” Most generally also dislike the idea of companies keeping tabs on which emails they do and don’t open or referencing their purchase behavior too specifically. For example, “You haven’t bought anything since X date.” So be sure to tread lightly with your personalization tactics, especially with subscribers new to your brand.

4. Businesses over-sending is a big no-no

The frequency of emails seems to have escalated during the pandemic—only reinforced by the increase in online shopping and the prevalence of data-sharing by companies. Younger generations, in particular, tend to have a greater tolerance for promotional emails as they rely on sales to make purchases on a budget, with one per day from known brands being fine. For older generations, however, the ideal frequency varies from 1 or 2 a week to once every few months, especially on large ticket items or infrequent purchases (such as major appliances, furniture, seasonal/holiday items). 

Bombarding UK recipients with emails is a surefire way to annoy them. In fact, 64% of all UK respondents admitted they’d unsubscribe if a company emailed them daily. But older generations were far less likely to unsubscribe no matter how many emails they received. A noteworthy 20% of Gen Xers and 22% of baby boomers said no specific number of emails a week would push them to opt out of receiving brand communications.

“I usually click on things that are more personalized based on what I enjoy, as opposed to rubbish spam or repeat information. That’s just a waste of words.”

UK-based millennial

Even still, be mindful of how often you reach out to your audience. Sending too many emails can cause them to ignore your messages, mark them as spam, or unsubscribe. If you’re determined to maintain a high volume of email sends, opt for shorter emails over longer ones, but only if offering new or interesting info. When you space out promotional offers, the more anticipated and exclusive the promotional offers become.

“A lot of emails still get through to my inbox. I don’t tend to unsubscribe, which I later regret as it means I have to scroll through loads of emails I’m not interested in at all to find the ones I want to read.”

UK-based Gen Zer

5. Simple surveys can help fine-tune your email program

When we asked if UK recipients would be willing to share more personal info with brands if it meant more personalized emails, 26% said no, 28% said they were unsure, and 46% said yes. But when we followed up in our interviews, most shared they’d be happy to complete a simple survey for their favorite companies to help them better tailor emails, especially if it came with incentives. 

What should these surveys contain? UK customers felt surveys should be limited to 5 pertinent questions and take no longer than 5 minutes of their time to complete. They also said they’d be open to sharing limited information about their personal preferences, hobbies, and socio-demographic info if everything was optional. Additionally, many wanted the option to update their preferences whenever they wanted without being prompted to do so too frequently. 

Chapter 7: Germany

Germany was the one outlier of this year’s report. In 2020, email was by far the most popular communications channel in Germany. Social media ads, search ads, and SMS/MMS messaging followed, respectively. In this year’s version of the report, search engine ads surged in popularity. Based on past surveys, we knew Germans are opposed to receiving promotional text messages, but we weren’t expecting the dramatic onset of search ad engagement. 

For that reason, we’re leaning more heavily on our qualitative data in this section to get a better understanding of how brands can help German consumers get more value and enjoyment out of branded emails and texts.

1. Daily emails are welcome (within reason)

While email is no longer a German consumer’s favorite communication channel, German recipients were the most open to receiving daily emails from their top brands of any country we surveyed. Overall, 72% of German respondents said they’d be open to receiving daily promotional emails from their top brands, with that number soaring to 83% among Gen Xers. Gen Zers, however, were the least open generation to receiving frequent messaging, with only 56% saying they were open to daily emails. Instead, the majority of the younger respondents preferred weekly emails from their favorite companies. 

2. Readers are enticed by clear subject lines

After sender, an email’s subject line is the most influential factor in a recipient’s decision to open an email. In fact, almost half, or 46%, of German respondents said email subject lines strongly or somewhat strongly influence their decision to open an email. German consumers prefer subject lines to provide a clear, unambiguous reference to the email content and be as concise as possible—they’re busy, after all, and want to know quickly if an email is worth their time or not. If brands adopt a more direct approach to messaging, consumers say that will increase their willingness to read and, ultimately, click on an email to learn more. 

“Even while scrolling through the senders, I select the emails that are relevant/interesting to me, and the question I ask is whether the sender is known/unknown. Only then do I actively read the corresponding subject lines and decide which email to actually open.”

Germany-based Gen Xer

3. Texts should be avoided 

Odds are your German customers won’t be receptive to any promotional text messages you send. German consumers are very sensitive about who gets their phone number and take the utmost caution when giving it out to brands. Most Germans only approve of texts from brands if related to 2FA, comparable security queries, and shipping notifications. Otherwise, they’re very critical of advertising communications sent via text message.

“I don't like SMS from companies. The best thing is never to receive such SMS.”

Germany-based Gen Xer

4. Personalization is key

German consumers find email personalization incredibly valuable—if not expected—in their communications with brands. Even just addressing the recipient by name in the subject line or in the email body can help German consumers feel the email was intended specifically for them, as opposed to being perceived as targeted vs. impersonal mass emails. In fact, 50% of our German respondents said they like to see this level of personalization in their email inbox. Additionally, 18% said they also like receiving product recommendations based on past purchases. But only 14% enjoy it when emails share content relevant to their specific interests, although our respondents added it helps them feel more favorably toward a brand.

Move over email, the communications channel French consumers engage with the most is SMS/MMS messaging. France is the only country in which SMS/MMS outranks email, although French consumers have high expectations for their branded texts. They want all promotional SMS/MMS messages they receive to be perfectly customized to their interests. That said, email isn’t going anywhere—recipients still depend on email as a reliable form of communication and a way to quickly and easily find critical information. 

Here’s what else French consumers think about and want from branded communications:

1. SMS is more popular with older generations

Our quantitative survey found that SMS engagement and recipient age were positively correlated among French respondents, with only 17% of Gen Zers, 19% of millennials, 21% of Gen Xers, and 26% of baby boomers listing it as one of the top 3 communications channels they engage with the most. That said, our French Gen Z participants during our qualitative interviews were more open to receiving branded texts than older consumers, as they hoped they’d find better deals and steep discounts through this channel.

2. Personalization should be improved

French and German respondents were the least open of any countries to share more personal information with brands in order to improve personalization. Respondents from both countries seemed to prioritize personal privacy, with only 39% of French and 38% of German respondents saying they’d be open to the idea.

However, younger French generations were more likely to share personal info than any generation. For the personalization-minded youths, 46% of Gen Zers and 45% of millennials were open to telling brands more about themselves, compare to only 25% of baby boomers who felt the same way.

“The worst is when you get an email with a product you do not need at all. That shows that the company does not do its job. They have no clue about your needs.”

France-based millennial

3. Emails must be clear and concise

French consumers value emails that are simple, concise, and easy to understand. It not only shows that a company knows how to communicate with its audiences, but it’s also a sign of professionalism in France. 

This is especially true for email subject lines, which 56% of French respondents said would somewhat or strongly influence their decision to open an email. French recipients want subject lines to hint at what the body of an email contains so they can determine if it’s worth their time and interest (or not). That said, short subject lines that use a few keywords and a touch of humor and originality are appreciated. French consumers also look for honest, attractive promotions and cues that an email will be informative and match their interests or needs.

“Since we get so many emails, it is very important that the content is short!”

France-based millennial

4. Ethics and respect are crucial

Transparency is very important for French consumers and seemingly more so since the onset of the pandemic. French recipients expect companies to be honest, transparent with offers and services, and use a respectful, polite tone in communications. 

Across the world, consumers are demanding their favorite brands step up corporate social responsibility efforts—and French consumers are no exception. In fact, across all generations surveyed, 25% are frustrated by receiving messages from unknown senders, 21% are annoyed by the volume of messages they receive, and 17% find it too hard to unsubscribe. To the latter point, French recipients see being able to easily unsubscribe from branded communications as a sign of transparency and respect. They want to have greater control over what messages they receive, and companies need to take notice.

5. Recipients want brands to appeal to their emotions 

French consumers attach great importance to the emotionality of the communication they receive from businesses. They believe promotional emails should use subtle humor, color, and images to evoke a certain emotional response from viewers. Emojis, animated GIFs, and videos are also a good way to tug at French consumers’ heartstrings when appropriate for the brand. 

“When the emails are too flattering, it smells like a scam. I don't open them.”

France-based Gen Xer

Though the level of importance may vary from generation to generation, as a whole, Japanese consumers find email and SMS important communications channels. However, their usage and attitude toward them differ widely by age. Here’s a closer look at how these generational differences take root in Japan: 

1. Attitudes toward email and SMS vary by age

While each generation of Japanese consumers finds email important in their own way, younger generations prefer to interact with their favorite brands via social media and video streaming ads. That said, Japanese Gen Zers and baby boomers find email an essential channel for personal communication, staying up-to-date on online shopping deals and purchases, and receiving important information regarding school and/or work. However, Japanese millennials, on the other hand, place less value on email and prefer to use apps like LINE or other social networking services (SNS). Overall, Japanese Gen Xers and baby boomers preferred email more than any other communication channel, with 17% and 21% naming email one of their top 3 most engaging communication channels, respectively.

“When I receive messages to my phone, I don’t always know who they’re coming from right away, but the company LINE always has an icon that makes them more recognizable and familiar.”

Japan-based Gen Zer

“As a communication tool, email has been replaced by LINE and other social networking apps. On the other hand, I don’t want to miss out on promotional emails for shopping.”

Japan-based millennial

2. Email is best when served short and sweet

While all generations of Japanese consumers felt strongly about email length, younger generations were the most opinionated—likely because of their tendency to check email on their smartphones. Most of our Japanese respondents agreed the ideal email length should be 2–3 scrolls for smartphones and 1–2 scrolls for computers and tablets. Beyond length, Japanese consumers felt emails should also maintain a good balance of text and pictures, with an average of 30%–40% images and 60%–70% text.

“If I receive a really long email that I open on my phone, there’s a small chance I won’t read the whole thing and just delete it.”

Japan-based millennial

3. Older generations are open to more frequent messaging

According to our quantitative data, older generations of Japanese consumers were far more likely to want to receive more frequent emails and SMS messages from their favorite brands. For email, however, only 32% of Gen Zers were open to daily messages, while 53% of Gen Xers and 56% of baby boomers were. Similarly, only 18% of Gen Zers wanted daily promotional texts, while 34% of Gen Xers and 37% of baby boomers said they’d be fine with that send volume.  

4. Messages should provide value

While older generations might be open to receiving more frequent messages, email frequency is a top turnoff for all Japanese consumers, with 44% saying they’d unsubscribe from an email list if they were sent an email every day. In fact, millennial respondents said they’d prefer to receive longer emails if it meant brands would email them less often. Gen Xers and baby boomers, on the other hand, get easily annoyed by the amount of promotional emails that make it to their inbox vs. their spam or junk folder, burying their important personal emails in the process. To avoid frustrating your email and SMS subscribers, make sure that every email you send provides valuable and relevant information to your audience.

Chapter 10: Global Customer Engagement Checklist

Chapter 11: Conclusion

Every audience is different, and country of residence and age can play a significant role in shaping consumer communication preferences. That’s why it’s important for businesses to understand where, when, and how consumers want to engage with brands. This allows them to show up for customers and prospects however they want and need them to do so. With data from 6 countries, we know this report is jam-packed with findings and insights so we’ve included a high-level synopsis for your quick reference. Here’s the TL;DR version of the 2022 Global Messaging Engagement Report: 


  • Engage older generations more frequently with email and SMS 
  • Interact with millennials and Gen Zers over social media
  • Identify clearly who the sender is with email and SMS messages
  • Employ concise subject lines with a hint of personality and humor
  • Use emojis sparingly and when the intended meaning is easy to understand


  • Send unsolicited branded SMS/MMS messages


  • Personalize branded messages but be careful not to over-personalize
  • Stick with data your customers have explicitly shared with you when targeting offers and content


  • Send branded SMS messages unless it’s for account security and package tracking purposes
  • Use aggressive language and messages in unbranded communications
  • Send duplicative content about the same sales/offers/discounts, etc. over and over again


  • Use short surveys to gauge interests and better tailor your emails
  • Employ SMS to send appointment reminders, shipping notifications, and account security prompts


  • Bother with offers or promotions below 25% off
  • Send high volume, repetitive, or lengthy emails 


  • Send emails often (even daily) only if providing valuable content
  • Use clear and concise subject lines
  • Personalize your emails


  • Send promotional text messages


  • Use SMS/MMS to engage older generations
  • Ask for more information to be shared with your brand for personalization
  • Be clear and concise in your branded messages


  • Make it difficult to unsubscribe or reduce message frequency
  • Be too flattering or overly promotional in your messages


  • Send email and SMS to older generations 
  • Keep things short and sweet—2–3 scrolls for smartphones and 1–2 scrolls for computers/tablets
  • Send branded messages to older generations more frequently than their younger counterparts
  • Engage with younger generations via social media and video streaming ads


  • Send messages too frequently


Ready to bring your email and SMS/MMS customer communications strategies to the next level in 2022? Start sending emails with Twilio SendGrid for free or talk to an SMS Expert to learn how to use SMS to engage your audiences around the world. Happy sending! 

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