Colleen Newlin


Simple Strategies for Marketing to Gen X

Cracking the code of marketing to Gen X can be a game-changer for your brand. It is a cohort with significant buying power and unique consumption habits rooted in their distinctive upbringing. 

As the first age group to grow up with personal independence at the forefront of what matters most, understanding what makes the “forgotten generation” tick can be a boon for business – particularly at a time when Gen X is about ready to dive head first into their prime spending years.

A Generation of Self-Sufficient Shoppers

An era that saw a rise in divorce rates and both parents working led to many Gen X youth living a latchkey childhood – and even those who weren’t left home alone to fend for themselves had close friends who were.

Gen X learned to manage daily life solo from a young age and fell in love with independence, freedom, and a lack of oversight. Alone time did not hold Gen X back – on the contrary, it generated resourcefulness.

This attitude has borne a unique brand of consumerism where shoppers value their own personal evaluation skills above all else. Whereas Baby Boomers look to brands they trust and Millennials rely heavily on peer reviews, Gen X prefers to educate themselves on product features or service benefits and make buying decisions based on their own opinions. While Gen X absolutely trusts social proof more than Baby Boomers, final buying decisions will almost always include a certain degree of personal research.

Gen X does not like a sales pitch. They hold a similar disdain as Baby Boomers for hollow promises. Just give them the facts so they can make an informed decision on their own.

Brand Loyalty Hinges on ROI

Every generation is loyal to their favorite brands for different reasons. Gen X wants to know, “What’s in it for me?” Winning over this generation requires that brands deliver sustained value, either through the dependability of their products or through attractive loyalty/rewards programs, or both! Gen X will be brand loyal when this loyalty leads to repeated benefits, but they will happily turn their back and look elsewhere the moment a brand lets them down.

Cut the Flash

Marketing to Gen X requires that you walk the tightrope between the colder, straightforward approach that appeals to Baby Boomers and the flashy style that catches the eye of Millennials and younger cohorts.

Gen X grew up during a time when catchy jingles stepped aside to make room for celebrity endorsement, so they are not completely immune to the allure of choosing “popular” brands, but all up, this generation still prefers value to hype, and will see right through any campaign that attempts to market a brand based on what’s hip rather than what works.

Take a Hybrid Approach

In Generational Marketing: How To Unlock Sales For Every Age, we talk a bit about how Gen X balances technology with tradition and how this “stuck in the middle” approach to life also impacts how to best market to this generation.

Gen X is at once the first age cohort to become comfortable with online shopping and booking travel over the world wide web, and the last generation to truly appreciate the difference in tangible marketing materials you can hold, touch, and feel.

Marketing to Gen X requires digital savvy without losing sight of the reality that many people in this cohort still head daily to the mailbox in search of weekly deals advertised on flyers and leaflets.

Note: A healthy mix of other forms of traditional marketing media can be equally effective, including radio, newspaper ads, television, outdoor and POP.

Tapping into Personal Passions

As a generation that puts the individual on a pedestal, a great way to connect with this age group is to tap into personal passions. The line between hobby and identity is often blurred and companies can take advantage of this fact with messaging that connects their brand to these personal passions.

Email Delivers Hyper-Personalized Offers

Answering the call for, “What have you done for me lately?” is simple – because Gen X doesn’t let more than a few hours go by without checking their email. 

Email marketing is low-hanging fruit when it comes to targeted offers. You don’t need to guess who is on the other end of your messaging, they quite literally handed over their full name and address!

Remember when crafting offers that straight-up blanket discounts are less appealing when marketing to Gen X compared to “rewards” earned for customer loyalty.

Facebook and LinkedIn Ads Target Busy Lifestyles

Connecting with Gen X on social media is done either via Facebook or LinkedIn, depending on the nature of the brand. Quick-hitting ads should focus on how your brand makes their busy lives easier. Practical and authentic content resonates.

A high ratio of home ownership in this cohort makes YouTube a powerful option for publishing educational material, as they often visit this platform in search of DIY guidance more than entertainment.

What about Blogs?

Gen X consumers appreciate authenticity and depth over surface-level engagement. This makes blogs packed with actionable advice or podcasts featuring industry experts are great options for building authority for your brand.

When crafting content, be sure to leave the reader smarter than they were before clicking. Gen X wants to learn something more than scroll through opinions or gossip.

The Power of Nostalgia

Perhaps more than any other cohort, Gen X loves pop culture references from their formative years. From MTV to hit bands, sports stars, 80s fashion trends or old school technology, it’s easy to let Gen X know you’re talking to them – and only them.

In a Nutshell

To recap, remember:

  • This generation values self-reliance and likes to do their homework, so present a value proposition and information to let them make up their own mind 
  • Gen X is brand loyal, but only when receiving consistent value
  • Loyalty and rewards programs are big hits
  • Email is often the most powerful digital channel for reaching this age group
  • Don’t toss out traditional marketing methods just yet – direct mail can still catch a Gen Xer’s eye
  • Speak to the individual and tap into people’s personal passions
  • Facebook/LinkedIn are your go-to social platforms for showing Gen X how your brand can make their busy life feel less busy
  • Blogs and podcasts are most effective when loaded with actionable advice

Let’s Talk to Gen X

Turn on your Sony Walkman! BRK Global Marketing can help you craft Gen X messaging that blasts right through their headphones.

To get started, contact us to schedule a consultation.

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