Generation X is often overlooked as businesses focus on the surging Millennial and Gen Z populations. Moreover, squeezed as it is between two massive generations — Boomers and Millennials — Gen X has sometimes been mistakenly viewed as being small in size, ergo less powerful. But Gen X still comprises a large segment of the population, and Gen Xers possess spending power. What sets them apart from other generations, and how should brands market to them online?
Who Is Gen X?
The fourth-largest U.S. generation behind Millennials, Baby Boomers, and Gen Z, Gen X encompasses Americans born between the mid-1960s and 1980. And Gen X is projected to surpass Baby Boomers in size by 2028.
What Are Some Notable Characteristics of Gen X?
Gen Xers have a reputation for being hard to pin down. This is perhaps because there’s a split in the generation, with older Gen Xers possessing some of the characteristics of their Baby Boomer forebears (digitally savvy, but not born into digital the way subsequent generations have been), and younger members of Gen X displaying Millennial tendencies (their mobile usage is similar to Millennials, for example). Moreover, this is a generation that prides itself on individuality — which can make it challenging for brands hoping to hone in on a “type.” But common denominators still exist across the generation, namely:
- Financial stability. Though saddled with more debt than Baby Boomers, Gen Xers are currently in their peak earning years and poised to reach the apex of their professions. This is a group, ultimately, with money to spend—per Big Commerce, Gen X currently makes up 31 percent of total U.S. income. Also of note: they dominate in housing, clothing, eating out, and entertainment spending.
- Reliance on digital. Even after seeing a television commercial or print ad, Gen Xers tend to turn to the internet to perform further research. And they love social media; a whopping 95 percent of this generation engages with Facebook.
- Education level. According to Big Commerce, 35 percent of Gen Xers in the United States have a college degree.
- Brand loyalty. Small Biz Technology notes that Gen Xers are likely to spend more on brands that “give back.” And according to eMarketer, when Gen Xers develop an affinity for a product, they are willing to pay a premium.
How Should Brands Market to Gen X?
What is the best way for brands to reach out to Gen X? We recommend that you:
- Understand where they live online — and meet them there. As noted above, Facebook is popular with Gen X. So is YouTube. Paid advertising works, of course. But brands might also create content that draw Gen Xers in with educational information or even nostalgia — because every generation loves a little throwback. In the case of Gen X, there’s a rich vein to mine: the 1970s, with all the possibilities that era represents in terms of pop culture, music, fashion, and more.
- Offer rewards, coupons, and loyalty programs. This is a generation that remembers the Great Recession, and doesn’t have faith that Social Security will be around when they retire. And as noted earlier, they shoulder some debt. Reach out with opportunities to save, and this generation will listen.
- Do good. As noted above, Gen X responds to brands that demonstrate a commitment to society or the environment.
- Understand that for Gen Xers, status is less important. This is a generational feature that Ford Motor Company figured out years ago. As far back as 2016, Omar Odeh, a Ford Explorer marketing manager, observed to Forbes, “[Gen Xers are] less likely to have to put their wealth on status. They don’t necessarily have to buy that premium brand. They will look at value for money and performance.”
- Think mobile. According to eMarketer, 88.5 percent of this generation use smartphones. Reach out to this group through mobile devices, and make sure your website is mobile-friendly.
- Employ video in your outreach. A whopping 45.8 million Gen Xers spend time with digital videos. ‘Nuff said.
- Keep communications short and to the point. Immersed in raising kids and building careers, this generation puts a value on time — and has little patience for perceived time-wasters.
- Give them some love. According to Big Commerce, 54 percent of Gen Xers “are frustrated that brands constantly ignore them.”
Contact True Interactive
How can your brand resonate with Gen X, that most elusive of generations? Contact us. We can help.