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Gen X: How Not to Forget About the Forgotten Generation

Category: Marketing / 4 minutes to read
Author: Stephanie Heitman
Published: August 26th

Gen X: How Not to Forget About the Forgotten Generation

Category: Marketing / 4 minutes to read
Author: Stephanie Heitman
Published: August 26th

Several years ago, marketers focused highly on Baby Boomers. Until this year, they were the generation that represented the largest subset of the population. And since they were established adults, well into their careers, they had a lot of disposable income up for grabs. 

Then Millennials came on the scene – young, digitally fluent, and disrupting just about any industry you could think of. Marketers became obsessed with figuring them out. What makes them tick? And how do you speak to this generation with a radically different set of ideals and consumer preferences? 

That leaves Generation X, those born between the Boomers and the Millennials, feeling a bit like the ignored middle child. But Gen Xers have some qualities that make them worthy of marketers’ attention. 

This generation is now solidly mid-career and doing well financially. In fact, Pew Research Center found that they were the only generation to fully recover from the Great Recession. 

So what can you do to make sure that you’re not forgetting about these guys? Here are our tips on how to market to Gen X. 

Embrace the Best of Both Marketing Worlds 

Unlike younger generations, Gen Xers grew up in the pre-digital world. They remember using card catalogs to find books at the library, but in adulthood, they were young enough to embrace technology fully. 

While they’re more likely than their younger counterparts to sit down and watch traditional television, catching the ads during commercial breaks, they’re just as likely to be found online. Gen Xers are mobile phone users and are present on social media (particularly Facebook and Twitter, where about 80% of them have accounts). 

In order to cater to these Gen Xers, you need to be savvy about the online marketing approaches you would employ with Millennials and Gen Zers. But you also need to think about more traditional ways of marketing – television, radio, print ads, and even direct mail can just as easily catch their attention. 

Offer Meaningful Deals 

Gen Xers tend to be more frugal than younger generations. They came of age during the 1987 recession and then got hit by the Great Recession in adulthood. Although they’ve managed to recover, they still carry those memories with them.

They’re also at a point in life where they have real financial commitments. They’re homeowners and parents, they’re still paying off their college loans, and they’re starting to get serious about saving for retirement. 

All of this means that they’re going to be more careful about how, where, and why they spend their hard-earned money. Unlike with Millennials and Gen Zers, who look to buy from socially conscious businesses, if you want to attract Gen Xers, you want to think about the bottom line. 

If you want to know how to market to Gen X, looking at the experiences that shaped their thinking is an excellent way to go.  Therefore, the best way to get their attention is to offer a great product or service at a great value. The focus for them is more on money than on mission. 

Go for the Throwback 

Many brands have embraced nostalgia of late. Think of the number of films and television shows from the 1980s and ‘90s that are being rebooted! 

Generation X has a major soft spot for nostalgia. Those that remember their childhoods fondly are happy to revisit their favorite products or franchises from their youth. As a marketer, this is a trend you should not ignore. 

A recent study in the Journal of Consumer Research showed that consumers spend more money when thinking about the past. You can take this desire for nostalgia and use it as part of your marketing approach. 

Craft campaigns that evoke the ‘80s and ‘90s – think handwritten block writing in bold colors, or people in plaid tops and scrunchies. Make clever nods to music, television shows, or other pop culture touchstones coming out of that era on social media. Not only will this touch of nostalgia catch a Gen Xers eye and make them smile, but it might also make them more likely to open up their wallets. Businesses ranging from car brands to casinos have incorporated nostalgia in their "how to market to Gen X" playbooks. Does nostalgia have a place in your strategy too?

Cash in on Brand Loyalty 

While they may be a smaller generation than the Boomers or Millennials, what they lack in population size they make up for in loyalty. Gen Xers are more brand loyal than any of the other generations – according to eMarketer, 70% of them are brand loyal. 

This means that once you win them over, they can be yours for life. And what’s the best way to win over any consumer? By earning their trust. This isn't just a how to market to Gen X strategy, it's a universal principle.

Online reviews are a major factor in the decision-making process for just about any consumer nowadays. Be sure you have a solid plan in place for generating reviews (and for responding to the less-than-favorable ones). 

Another major factor in building trust is ensuring you have a robust presence online. Claim your Google My Business page, establish official profiles across social media platforms, and link all of those channels to your modern and professional business website. This lets Gen Xers know that you’re a legitimate company worthy of their trust and loyalty. 

Generation X has been ignored by marketers for too long. This generation not only has a lot of spending power, but they also have the potential to become lifelong customers if you do your part to win them over. Learning how to market to Gen X can definitely come with advantages.

A combination of old-school and cutting edge marketing approaches will speak to this generation that remembers an analog past but had to adapt to the fully digital present. Toss in a dash of marketing nostalgia, and you have a recipe for success when it comes to winning over this forgotten generation. 

Want more specific help on how to market to Gen X (and all the others – or the group that makes the most sense for your business)? LOCALiQ has insights and data from over 125 million consumers, so we can help you craft the marketing strategy that will work best for you. Contact us today to learn more. 

And, Gen Xers: Enjoy this video!

 

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