How to Market Your Business to Generation X

Gen X consumer browsing on his laptop

Generation X, the generational group of consumers born between 1965 and 1980, can be considered today's most valuable customer demographic. Now at the height of their earning power – and thus spending abilities – they boast an incredible value of $2.4 trillion, according to US manufacturing firm, Fona. 

Though they can be targeted through a combination of tailored marketing strategies – and are devoid of the multitude of behavioural complexities that other consumer groups demonstrate – Gen X is often ignored by many businesses, usually due to the buzz around millennials and Generation Z.

However, your organisation can begin appealing to Gen X by adopting the promotional techniques that are effective in attracting the attention and purchasing preference of this valuable buyer segment. To help, we've compiled a breakdown of everything you need to know about marketing to Generation X.

Understanding Generation X

To capture the consideration of this consumer group, you need to first understand their key characteristics. Your company should take the time to learn the needs, desires, preferences, motivations and behaviour of these buyers. 

Generation X customers typically enjoy coveted financial security. Often boasting dual household income with both partners earning independently, they are not yet at the end of their careers, and can expect steady employment for another 10 to 30 years depending on where they fall within the generational bracket. As the 'heads of the house', they are the key decision-makers of their personal spending and can even influence their dependents and peers with their purchasing decisions.

Better educated than their generational predecessors, and valuing a healthy balance between work and life, they tend to invest in developing their knowledge, careers, personal interests, and hobbies. 

Nostalgic purchases are high among this group, too, with consumers seeking to re-capture the magic of the pop culture they grew up with. They can thus be greatly influenced by 'cult classic' icons from music, movies, gaming, and even the food and beverage industry.

Communicate Family Values

Several key triggers drive purchases among Gen X. These buyers continue to demonstrate their preference for branding that portrays messages of responsibility, authenticity, and work-ethic, as these are the family values that they associate with themselves. 

You should, therefore, align your core messaging with these principles, and adopt appropriate text, imagery, and brand placement to portray yourself as a trustworthy, reliable company through your marketing delivery. Adopting an end-to-end strategy is most effective in accomplishing this, publishing consistent messaging throughout online, offline, paid, and unpaid promotional activities.

Focus on Quality

Generation X shoppers value quality over quantity, preferring to make few purchases of higher-priced products or services that will serve them well in the long-term, rather than frequently buying cheaper goods for instant gratification. 

To appeal to this trait, your company should market the core, enduring benefits of your products and clearly express why they can be considered of premium quality. Your brand should indicate to buyers how they may reap long-term value from their purchases, rather than focusing marketing campaigns on an element such as competitive pricing.

Adopt Traditional Media Marketing

Gen X's media consumption is equally mixed between traditional offline media – such as television, newspapers, magazines – and digital media. This is great for businesses, offering a multitude of channels through which they can effectively target and reach these buyers.

Appropriate offline marketing strategies include placing print advertisements in newspapers and magazines. This strategy offers consumer targeting to a certain extent, allowing companies to select publications whose readership matches their desired demographic. Promotional leaflets may also be used to give shoppers the chance to peruse your company’s offerings, prices, and benefits.

Television advertising is another major technique that accurately captures the attention of these specific customers. Indeed, in a 2018 survey by YouGov, 23.5% of surveyed Generation X buyers in the US revealed that TV ads were the highest influencer on their purchasing decisions. In a similar vein to print advertising, you can select the television stations, advert spot days and times that are most likely to be viewed by your desired audience demographic.

Cultivate Your Online Presence

To target Gen X online, meanwhile, you must ensure you have an attractive online presence, with personalised email marketing practices directing traffic to your interactive website or online eCommerce store.

You can also take advantage of Generation X's preference for researching their consumption needs on the internet before making a buying decision. This can be achieved by executing retargeting marketing campaigns, which show personalised banner adverts to customers online who have interacted with your brand's website but not completed a purchase. This entices users to return to your company's domain and explore the offering further.

Leverage the Power of Social Media

Generation X is incredibly susceptible to promotional messaging shared across social media. Despite the perception that social media marketing is most effective in targeting millennial and Gen Z shoppers, buyers aged between 40 and 55 continue to use these networking platforms to search for product-related information and peer reviews.

Although a combination of social sites can be adopted, you can begin by promoting your brand through Facebook, which is the social networking site most used by Gen X. Aim to strike a balance between organic content and paid advertisements to see the best results.

Take Advantage of Loyalty

These buyers are more loyal to their preferred brands than other generational consumer groups, forming close emotional ties with companies that they trust and have had positive experiences with. In fact, in a 2018 survey by US market research firm, Morning Consult, an overwhelming 67% of surveyed Gen X shoppers shared that they routinely repurchase products and services that they are satisfied with, rather than re-evaluating competitor offerings for the chance to secure a better deal. Therefore, businesses should take advantage of this potential for customer loyalty.

Enterprises can create attractive customer loyalty programmes, rewarding buyers with discounts, free items or exclusive offerings in exchange for their repeat transactions. Such programmes can be executed both online, through website features and mobile apps, and offline, in-store. Securing recurring revenue in this way can minimise the funding that businesses must spend on marketing activities to achieve their promotional goals, as retaining existing buyers is widely considered to be around five times cheaper than recruiting new customers.

Customer referral programmes can also benefit businesses, encouraging new consumers to make purchasing decisions based on the positive word-of-mouth of existing buyers. This is particularly effective for Gen X audiences, as personal recommendations comprise the second biggest influencer of buying choices among this demographic. Referral schemes give existing buyers the opportunity to earn a reward for successfully recommending new shoppers to the brand, using a personalised code for accurate tracking. New consumers can also benefit from a discount on their first purchase, incentivising them to participate in such programmes.

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Although Generation X is often overlooked as a key consumer group – due, primarily, with an obsession to appeal to their generational successors – enterprises can greatly benefit from acquiring Gen X buyers. This demographic offers a high return on marketing investment, demonstrating overwhelming brand loyalty and parting with their higher-than-average disposable income when effectively targeted. 

Businesses can adopt a range of interesting marketing strategies to engage buyers aged 40 to 55, delving into online and offline advertising channels to communicate family values, promote product quality, and ultimately earn the valuable loyalty of these wealthy buyers.

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