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A Willing Participant, Inc.  /  Chicago, Illinois  /  markb@awillingparticipant.com  /  (312) 775-2266

4 Things to Know About Marketing to Generation X

February 28, 2019

Image by Nicholas Gercken via Unsplash 

 

From Generation Z all the way up to baby boomers, we've spent some time discussing generational marketing strategies for most segments of the economy.

 

But our generational marketing series wouldn't be complete without a post on Generation X.

 

Sandwiched between the baby boomers and millennials, Gen X is often referred to as the "forgotten generation" or the "slacker generation."

 

The Pew Research Center estimated the United States population included 65.8 million Gen Xers last year.

 

Generation X, generally speaking, is made up of people in their late-30s up to their mid-50s.

 

Growing up, the group was described as being jaded and resentful. Today, many are well-educated professionals, parents and hobbyists. 

 

So as marketers, what should we know about Generation X? Let's check out some of their characteristics.

 

1. They're Dying to Hear From You

 

Isn't that just music to your ears?

 

With so much focus from brands on the larger baby boomer and millenial cohorts, it's no wonder Gen Xers are called the "forgotten generation."

 

According to AdWeek, a 2015 analysis of nearly 18,000 earnings-call transcripts from different companies found just 16 mentions of Generation X.

 

With so little attention paid to their wants and needs, Gen Xers are dying to hear from your brand.

 

As the author of a recent PR Daily article wrote

 

"I'm a Gen Xer. Come and knock on my door; I'll be waiting for you. If you continue to ignore me, I'll just find somewhere else to invest my attention, time and money."

 

Do you hear that? Give it a rest with the boomers and millennials already. Generation X is a massive portion of the population that's not being marketed to.

 

So start talking. You'll be glad you did.

 

 

2. They're Not as Wealthy as Boomers, But...

 

Members of Generation X are in the prime of their careers, but they haven't accumulated wealth like the baby boomers have.

 

And after the boomers took their slice of the pie, lots of Gen Xers wonder if there's still enough to go around.

 

Studies have found many don't expect they'll ever be able to retire, according to City-Journal.org. They don't expect social security will be around to save them, either.

 

That being said... Gen Xers aren't exactly strapped for cash, either. They have the second-largest disposable income after the boomers, according to Citipost Mail.

 

So there are uncertainties regarding their financial futures—the world they grow old into might not be as secure as it is for the boomers.

 

But right now, most Gen Xers are doing alright for themselves.

 

How does this affect your marketing strategy?

 

Get Gen Xers' attention with a special offer on your big-ticket item.

 

Gen Xers are working hard, raising families and taking care of aging parents. It's safe to say they'll be looking to treat themselves every once in a while, and most can afford to do so.

 

Throw a special offer on that flatscreen, family cruise or new car, and you just might capture the interest of Generation X. 

Is your business marketing to Generation X? Drop us a line today to discuss your strategy in a FREE audit

3. They're Highly-Active on Social Media

 

Members of Generation X are incredibly active on social media.

 

In fact, the findings of a 2017 Nielsen report might shock you.

 

According to Nielsen, adults ages 35-49 years-old (predominantly Gen X) spend more time per week on social media than any other group of adults.

 

Shocking, right?

 

Nielsen found that, on average, members of this age group spend six hours and 58 minutes on social media each week.

 

That's compared to six hours and 19 minutes from adults 18-34 and four hours and nine minutes from adults 50-and-older.

 

With all this time on social media, one thing's for sure about Gen Xers—they're not on Instagram.

 

While younger people are leaving Facebook in herds for Instagram and other social media, Gen Xers haven't yet picked up on the trend.

 

Just 8 percent of Gen Xers actively use Instagram, according to Citipost Mail.

 

When they are on their social channel of choice, they're most likely to be active during the hours of 8 p.m. and midnight. After work is over, dinner has been made and the kids are finally asleep, perhaps?

 

And believe it or not, Gen Xers are more likely than members of any other generation to share content on social media.

 

Running Facebook Ads targeted to Generation X?

 

When selecting your target audience for Facebook Ads, sometimes it's a good idea to start with wider parameters initially, so that Facebook can find the "sweet spot" for connecting with your audience.

 

Knowing what we do now, though, there's a good chance you'll have the most success:

 

  • Running your ads only on Facebook (as opposed to both Facebook and Instagram)

  • Using the "lifetime budget" option and setting your ad's hours of delivery to between 8 p.m. and midnight in your audience's local time zone

  • Producing shareable content that feels organic and provides value through humor, "cuteness" or interesting information

 

4. They're Extremely Loyal

 

Baby boomers will ditch your brand in a heartbeat to save a couple extra bucks.

 

Not Gen Xers, though.

 

Tech.co says they're more loyal than both boomers and millennials when it comes to consumers' favorite brands.

 

In a study of eight different product categories, Gen Xers reported greater or equal loyalty as the other generations in all but one category.

 

Now that's loyalty.

 

Only in two categories did Gen Xers have equal loyalty as one of the other generations.

 

They tied with millennials when it came to electronics and boomers for health and beauty products.

 

The only category in which Gen Xers weren't at least tied for most loyal was furniture/home furnishings, in which millennials are the most loyal.

 

When it came to other categories, there were fairly large disparities between the loyalty of Gen Xers and the other generations.

 

For building materials and hardware, Gen Xers' loyalty was seven percentage points higher than boomers and nine points higher than millennials.

 

For sporting goods, hobby and crafts supplies and toys, the difference was even more vast. Gen Xers' loyalty was 10 points higher than that of millennials and 22 points higher than boomers.

 

Check out the graph below for the full picture.

 

  Data from the International Council of Shopping Centers

 

How does this affect your marketing strategy?

 

Gen Xers are likely to already be dedicated to a brand that's similar to yours. You'll probably need to invest heavily and be diligent in your strategy to capture their interest.

 

But if you're able to do so, and then deliver in your 'moments of truth,' you're likely to win a loyal customer for life.

Want to discuss your strategy for marketing to Generation X? Get in touch today to set up a FREE creative audit

Closing Thoughts...

 

Everyone loves to talk about millennials, and let's be honest, it's always really been the boomers' world.

 

But in between those two generations is a huge group of people who are fairly wealthy and ready to spend.

 

They're brand-loyal, tech-savvy and waiting to hear from you.

 

Maybe it's time you start paying more attention to Generation X, before your competitors do first. 

 

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