03 Dec Don’t Forget Generation X!
They remember the Brat Pack, grunge rock and brick-sized cell phones. But they’re often the generational equivalent of the neglected middle child, and forgotten by businesses in their marketing campaigns. Who else, of course, but Generation X – better known as Gen X? Born from 1965 to 1980, they hold the unenviable position between the much more numerous Baby Boomers (1946-1964) and Millennials (1981-1995). Often misunderstood in their younger days and characterized as “slackers,” Gen X members have proven themselves as enterprising, resourceful and resilient. Aren’t these the kind of people you’d like to have as loyal customers?
It is possible, if you give them the acknowledgement and respect they deserve! But first, you need to know about their values, purchasing habits and preferences in communication in order to successfully engage them. And if you’re Gen X yourself, getting a clearer picture of your contemporaries from a sales and marketing perspective will improve your competitive edge!
Gen X: Smaller Numbers, But Big Economic Impact
Despite there being fewer Gen X members than Boomers and Millennials, Gen X has the greatest spending power. Gen X makes up only 25 percent of the United States population, but claims 31 percent of its total income dollars. Their income is (on average) higher than the national average, as well as the averages for all other generations. Obviously, those who continue to ignore Gen X do so at their business’s peril!
While Boomers and Millennials have been adept at getting a good deal of media attention paid to their every move, true to their reputation, Gen X members have been quietly getting down to business – literally! According to Visual Capitalist, 46 percent of small business leaders are Gen X. The publication’s insightful Generational Power Index Report 2021 also reveals that the same percentage of Gen X members hold local elected government positions.
A Snapshot of Gen X Values
Is there a link between the high percentage of Gen X entrepreneurs and elected office holders and generational values? Perhaps. In understanding Gen X, Zen Media provides a snapshot of their collective background and how it shaped their values.
“As kids, they were often the children of divorce who came home to empty houses; these experiences have made them into independent, resourceful, and family-oriented adults. They’re more focused on family values than their parents, which is shown by their overwhelming love for nostalgia – for an example, look no further than the dozens of reboots in movie theaters over the last decade.”
As digital marketing expert Neil Patel observes, Gen X members are “… occasionally viewed as skeptical, but you could also call them critical thinkers. They’re currently considered to be financially stable but also deal hunters.”
Gen X Purchasing Habits – Looking to the Future and Looking for Value
According to Zen Media, although Gen X is in its peak earning and spending years, its members are planning for the future by saving up for four major financial priorities: home ownership, starting a business, college for their children and financial independence. They’re also likely to be caring for aging parents. Rather than spending on luxuries or status items, they focus on the fundamentals and seek value. As they begin to hit middle age, they’re also more concerned with taking care of their own fitness and wellness.
“This preference for budgeting, paired with digital literacy, means that Gen X is entirely comfortable hunting online for deals. They like to research online before making a purchase and tend to turn to review sites like Yelp and Amazon before adding anything to their cart.”
Knowing that Gen X goes online to learn about businesses, Isabella Andersen offers the following tips in her article for RevLocal:
- Optimize your website for local search, mobile and voice search (editor’s note: make sure your Google My Business listing is up-to-date and optimized).
- Get more online reviews, which boosts your business’s credibility with consumers.
How to Reach and Engage Gen X Members
This is a unique generation in that its members span all forms of media, from print through digital. Older members may behave more like Boomers, while the younger may have more in common with Millennials. Writes Andersen, “Despite their preference for traditional TV and newspapers, Generation X-ers tend to still research businesses on the Internet.” For this reason, Patel recommends that marketing strategies include paid search ads, email marketing, social media and direct mail.
Speaking of email, digital marketing experts list it as the top means of reaching Gen X! As Zen Media notes, “Email campaigns are seen as hopelessly old-fashioned by many Millennials and seen as too new for some Boomers. For Generation X, however, email is considered the gold standard for personal communications as well as business. Still, many marketers overlook this channel even though 66% of B2B marketers and 44% of B2C marketers can prove clear ROI from email. Generation X check their email regularly, so reach out to them with personalized offers tailored to their interests and prior purchases.”
Writes Patel, “Generation X are loyal to their favorite brands but wary of invasive advertising”. They don’t enjoy aspects of digital marketing that seem intrusive to their personal lives and aren’t fans of text messaging or retargeting.
“They are more open to email marketing, and including offers and promotional codes in emails can be a great way to attract these customers”.
Our blog post – “Are Email Campaigns Dead?” – notes that email marketing is more vital than ever, giving brands a direct way to segment, engage, nurture and convert leads. HubSpot staff writer Caroline Forsey observes that email generates $38 for every $1 spent, which is an astounding 3,800% ROI – making email campaigns one of the most effective options available.
Here are more ways to connect with Gen X:
Use social media – Facebook is the predominant social media platform, with 95 percent of Gen Xers using it on a regular basis. LinkedIn follows with 35 percent (all those entrepreneurs, you know), while 25 percent post regularly on Twitter. Writes Andersen, “If your target market consists of members of Generation X, make sure to tailor your posts to them, and don’t forget to target this age group when creating Facebook ads.”
Use paid ads – Advertising on social media platforms can be very effective in targeting specific demographic groups. Our blog post – “Why Should Your Business Invest in Facebook Ads?” – notes that organic reach from social media alone won’t move the needle on driving traffic to your website or otherwise engaging potential customers. However, paid ad campaigns can bring more attention to your social media activity, thereby building engagement.
YouTube can be your friend – “It may come as a surprise, but digital video is huge among Gen X,” Zen Media observes. It’s even more popular than social networking – over 75 percent download or stream video online at least once a month.”
Given Gen X’s love for nostalgia, tying in your videos with references to a TV show, milestone (positive) event or fad of their childhood or teen years can be a good way to attract members of your target audience – both to your YouTube channel and your website!
Offer loyalty rewards – Gen X has the highest brand loyalty across all generations, so cultivate it with discounts, special offers or a simple “thank you” email. It’s all part of providing a great customer experience, which you should be doing for customers of every generation!
The Take-Home Message and Our Blatant Self-Promotion
Like the middle child who finds a way to persevere and shine, Gen X has quietly shaped the world – and is far from finished! If you’re one of the unsung Gen X achievers running a business that provides employment and supports the local economy, congrats! We truly appreciate what you contribute to our community – especially during the challenges of recent times!
Whatever generation you’re a member of, however, staying focused on your business is too demanding to spend time going it alone on digital marketing. That’s what we’re here for! If Gen X is your primary target demographic or part of your market reach, Virtual Stacks Systems can help you reach them! Our innovative, experienced team knows how to engage with multi-generational audiences. We provide comprehensive social media marketing services, as well as email marketing, PPC advertising, website design and redesign, SEO marketing, review management services and much more! Contact us to get started.