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Generational Marketing Part 2: Marketing to Generation X


Who are Gen Xers?

From a marketing standpoint, think of modern moms & dads. These are adults who currently make up the filling of the American demographic pie. They are working long hours, raising kids, and paying mortgages. Many of them are at the peak of their careers or are building businesses.

Though they are self-proclaimed mavericks and individualists, in many ways, from a marketing standpoint they are a hybrid. Some researchers call them the bridge generation. They’ve adopted some aspects of “boomer-ism” from their parents, and they have clearly been one of the major influences in making millennials so–well–millennial.

In this post, we’ll examine how an understanding of this generation’s unique characteristics can help us market more effectively to them. Here are some tips on marketing to Generation X.

The Busiest Generation

Gen Xers are busy. They must juggle marriage, kids, parents, and careers like no other generation. If we want to gain them as customers, we have to catch them first. Here are a few suggestions for marketing to the busiest generation.

1. The @ Factor

Though some prematurely prophesy the end of the email, it’s still the most effective way to market to this generation. They are online to a much greater degree than boomers, and they are very comfortable with online shopping. Outlook is an integral part of their business and home communications, so email marketing is a natural fit.

2. Chill Time

Gen Xers need a break more than any of us. According to research, 80% of Gen Xers with an annual income of over 250k say they’ll take a vacation this year. Over half of the rest said they plan annual vacations as well. Even if you’re not in the travel business, consider a sweepstakes promotion or other travel-related marketing.

3. Get Social

One of the ways to help this generation save time is to be where they are. Gen Xers are on social media almost as much as millennials. This means that your social media marketing needs to address them as well. Develop specific strategies to target them, however, since their needs are very different from those of millennials.

Conscience Counts

This generation certainly has a conscience. They have grown up in difficult times, and it has made them want to make the world a better place. Here are a couple of ways to appeal to the Gen X conscience.

1. Remember the Planet

Finding out what causes your prospects are interested in can be a great way to win their business. For Gen Xers, the environment is number one. Be cautious about associating your brand with anything perceived as hurting the environment. Proactively, find ways your business can facilitate the support of environmental causes. Gen Xers will genuinely appreciate this effort and take notice of your brand.

2. Rock the Vote

Though early predictions about this generation’s political personality were gloomy, they have grown up to be quite politically loyal. This gives you another simple way to research and target this demographic. Their voting habits can be relatively stable, so learn what they are. Research their hot-button issues and you’ll know them much better as a group.

A Few Curveballs

I have three kids. They all surprise us from time to time, but the middle one is just full of surprises. This seems to be true with most middle children, and it’s true with this demographical “middle child.” Here are a few statistical curveballs Gen X has thrown at market researchers.

1. They go to the store.

Gen Xers are hybrid shoppers. Though they often shop online, they also still go shopping. You’ll find them at the mall with their kids, at discount and specialty shops as well. In addition, though they claim to be list shoppers, statistics say otherwise. They are among the most likely to make impulse buying choices.

2. They use coupons.

These are some of the most coupon-ready prospects in the marketplace. They entered the workforce just as the Great Recession hit, and they tend to be pessimistic about retirement, so they focus on saving. Self-professed bargain-hunters, many of them try to buy only with coupons. Therefore, in your social media and email marketing, make sure to provide useful coupons.

3. They bring in the mail.

One place you might not expect to find this generation is at the mailbox. However, as the Postal Service struggles for its existence, many Gen Xers pick up their mail every day. In fact, many of them say they have bought based on direct mail advertising. Though the bulk of current marketing will tend to be digital, feel free to kick it old school on occasion. As long as you are careful not to waste paper, you may be able to win some Gen X business for the cost of some printing and postage.

Don’t Forget the Middle Child

Next month, we’ll explore what’s on everyone’s mind, marketing to millennials. However, we hope this information inspires you to remember the tremendous opportunity of marketing to this unique group. Generation X, like Baby Boomers, are often forgotten in our haste to adapt to what’s new and what’s next. Remember, this demographical “middle child” is and will continue to be a crucial target for any successful marketing strategy.

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