Gen-X (MTV Generation, Baby Busters, Boomerang)  

David Baker, COO, Cordial

The so-called “forgotten generation” is treated true to their name, as if they were virtually forgotten. Few brands seem to focus on this generation’s wishes and needs or to lump them in with their Boomer brothers and sisters.

That is a pity, because Gen Xers are the parents of Digital Natives. Therefore, they have more influence on the youngest generation than companies may realize. Xers are also on the brink of taking over companies and politics from the Boomers. When they do, they will change everything.  

Marketing to GenX

They are moving into the middle and latter stages of the coveted 18-49 marketing age demographic. Their tastes are “not Baby Boom,” often blaming the “Me Generation” and the materialism of the Baby Boomers for their difficult times. Because they have many needs and greater financial restraints, they often shop at value-oriented retailers.

They like initiatives that will make things more useful and practical. Give them a lot of stimuli, a challenging environment, and flexibility without long-term commitment. Give them opportunities to learn, grow, and improve.  On the other hand, they have a reputation of being incredibly disloyal to brands and companies.

They account for the largest share of the nation’s parents. Many were new homebuyers caught in the housing bubble of 2008.

They are both cynical and sophisticated about products, ads and shopping. Services aimed at building relationships might alter this group’s commodity-based view of the shopping experience.

This group is the most price-conscious and has low price sensitivity. They want products and messages designed uniquely for their tasks and lifestyles. Information and technology are important in products and services. They see technology as changing their world and value techno literacy.

Engaging Gen X

Balancing work/life is one of the greatest challenges for Gen X. Many chose jobs closer to home over higher salaries. More telecommute or opt out of the workforce in general. Yet this audience still wields the highest average income of any generation.  

The MTV generation also has an active BS detector. Authenticity and transparency are significant for this tech-savvy generation.  

With money, time and a desire to spoil themselves and build a foundation for their children, this generation is a perfect storm for omnichannel, where consistent brand connections are formed and reinforced cross channel.

Communicating with GenX

Generation X is not always easy to reach.

They respond to irreverence in advertising but not always as well to traditional approaches. Give them plenty of access to information and educate them into buying. That is, keep them in the loop by asking for their feedback and sharing information with them regularly.

But, use short sound bites to keep their attention.

Be frank, and use straightforward facts, candor, and honesty. You must show them that you know what you are talking about. Learn to speak their language directly and in a non-threatening way. For example, “You’re different and we respect that.” Motivate them with statements such as “There aren’t a lot of rules here” or “This is not a formal establishment” or “Do it your way.”  While not digital natives, GenXers grew up on technology in their teens and beyond.  While many generations are difficult to pin down, this generation can exude extreme loyalty to brands they trust.  They were the first generation to embrace social media. Creating consistent communications, driving loyalty and rewards for those connections is important.  Realize while Xers have a propensity to engage across devices (PC, laptop, tablet and smartphone), they are night owls much like the Millennials.

Consider this generation a hybrid between Boomers and Millennials in that they triage communications throughout the day but do the vast majority of social connections at night. This group can be engaged through platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

Digital video consumption is high. Xers also are the second largest Pinterest cohort behind Millennials.

This generation is all about documenting their lives and sharing with their friends, communities and family.

Persuading GenX to buy

Marketers must focus on a consistent cross-device experience. When Gen Xers shop, they spend.

While in aggregate they don’t spend as much as Gen Y in single sessions, this group is known for researching, comparing and seeking alternatives.  Mobile shopping and great online shopping experiences are at a premium.  

This group also represents the greatest opportunity for luxury products and travel services that solve their need to build the type of family values and experiences that are their first priority.  A significant segment of Xers grew up in single-parent homes or as part of blended families, and many seek to create the family experience they lacked.

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