GEN X, Overlooked again

The “Slacker” generation is all gown up, and is a marketers dream.. yet why are they overlooked with the focus going to Millennials?

Generation X has been relatively ignored by marketers, despite their influence and spending power. Baby Boomers and Millennials alike have been a source of media fascination and marketer focus, while Generation X sits on the sideline.

Coming of age within distinct time periods shaped members of different generations in ways that influence values and preferences. Because of these generational differences, marketing strategists would be wise to consult research on generational differences when tailoring strategies to specific age cohorts. Marketing strategists target younger consumers because of their comparative openness and malleability in comparison with older consumers. Yet, what about the values and preferences of Generation X in contrast with other generations, as well as the  brand loyalty of Millennials and Generation X (having some similarities)?

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/01/17/where-millennials-end-and-generation-z-begins/

The Myth

Generation X is overlooked in part because of its size, with Generation X (65 million) being smaller than the Boomers (77 million) and the Millennials. Interestingly, the year span for Generation X is less than the typical 20-year span that makes up the other generations, which speaks to its smaller size.

Marketers also have ignored this generation, in part due to its “slacker” reputation that has been perpetuated by cultural references and even within academic research. Other myths about Generation X are that these individuals are cynical, resentful, rebellious, and will buy anything; such myths possibly underlie a lack of research-based marketing attention to this segment. Very few researchers have examined marketing strategy in relation to Generation X, and there are none, to my knowledge, any examining Generation X females in relation to social media use, marketing strategy, or brand relationships other than my own.

Generation X and social media

Researchers have suggested that wise marketing strategists will value research findings over myths and stereotypes about Generation X when developing strategy to attract and retain consumers from this generation. Understanding the values and priorities of a demographic such as Generation X ( females in particular) is essential to segmentation processes, or group-specific marketing strategies . Marketing executives who participated in interviews expressed that segmentation in online marketing was a vital part of any firm’s marketing strategy, and that social media platforms represented an important vehicle for interacting with and learning about different demographic groups.

It is therefore important for researchers to explore social media use among Generation X individuals to enhance marketing effectiveness to this generation.

Social media are an integral part of many GenXers’ day. Neilsen suggests that GenX, not Millenials, are heavy users of social media. Their most recent report showed Generation X spending approximately 7 hours per week on social platforms, with females taking the lead by spending 25% of their time on social media. Marketing to youth, women, and digital natives is a lucrative strategy, given that these major segments have been researched and proven to be highly probable for gaining brand advocacy and because they are the most influential segments in the digital era. It is also worth noting that females tend to be the gatekeepers as to what products and services make their way into the home. This is because of the comprehensive process women typically use to research purchasing decisions, social media included.

The Gap

Marketers have largely ignored Generation X, despite their influence and spending power. This spending power translates into a higher ability to purchase products and services, making this target demographic a valuable audience for marketers. Further, the female demographic within Gen X is a viable focus for academic research, given that they are the main purchase decision-makers for households, regardless of whether they are the end user. It stands to reason, then, that brands need to understand how to effectively create and curate social media content to best serve this segment of the population that is both under-served and has enormous potential.. ..latchkey or not.

 

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