Stuck in the Middle: Marketing to Generation X



This is the third part of our series Multi-Generational Marketing, where we teach you how to target individuals in the Millennial, X, and Baby Boomer generations. You can view part one here and part two here.

What is there to say about Generation X? Unlike the generations before and after, there isn’t a strong identity attached to those born between 1965 and 1980. As they reach middle age, this generation is truly caught in the middle of the battles between emerging and digital versus traditional and analog. With that said, marketing to Generation X can be tough, especially since most people don’t like to think of themselves as demographics.

Still, there are some common experiences and traits among members of different age groups that can be used to help you develop your marketing strategies when targeting Generation X as consumers. The current technology allows even those CMOs with modest budgets to target their customers better than at any other point in history, and we know the best ways to do so.

The best strategy is to combine these four digital marketing tips with traditional methods for a holistic, inclusive marketing strategy to woo Generation X.

Send an email.

Email campaigns are seen as hopelessly old-fashioned by many Millennials and seen as too new for some Boomers. For Generation X, however, email is considered the gold standard for personal communications as well as business. Still, many marketers overlook this channel even though 66% of B2B marketers and 44% of B2C marketers can prove clear ROI from email. Generation X check their email regularly, so reach out to them with personalized offers tailored to their interests and prior purchases.

Appeal to their financial responsibility.

Gen X has the highest spending power of all living generations, which is even more impressive when you consider its size: it makes up only 25 percent of the US population but claims 31 percent of its total income dollars. Yes, this generation is at its peak of earning and spending years, but saving money is a huge priority for its members. They’re saving up for four major financial priorities: paying for their children’s college, home ownership, starting a business, and financial independence.

This preference for budgeting, paired with digital literacy, means that Gen X is entirely comfortable hunting online for deals. They like to research online before making a purchase and tend to turn to review sites like Yelp and Amazon before adding anything to their cart.

With that said, a strong marketing technique is to advertise deals on social media with shareable images and include exclusive coupons in your email blasts. California-based cupcake chain Sprinkles has mastered this technique on their Twitter page, where they offer secret passwords to followers every few days that, if whispered, fetch Buy One Get One deals, free customization, or extra toppings.

When in doubt, make a video.

It may come as a surprise, but digital video is huge among Gen X. It’s even more popular than social networking—over 75 percent download or stream video online at least once a month.

This is the only generation who regularly consume advertising and marketing messages from all of the key media channels including social media networks and mobile and cable. This generation leads the traffic in video-on-demand and television as well. Their genre preferences also differ: Gen X has a keen interest in world news and politics that sets it apart from other generations. Creating an “edu-tainment” video about your product by tying in current events is sure to hit the right chord with this age group.

Align yourself with their values.

Your digital marketing strategy has to be on point to reach the skeptical Gen Xers. As kids, they were often the children of divorce who came home to empty houses; these experiences have made them into independent, resourceful, and family-oriented adults. They’re more focused on family values than their parents, which is shown by their overwhelming love for nostalgia—for an example, look no further than the dozens of reboots in movie theaters over the last decade.

Appeal to Generation X’s desire to provide for future generations and their need for stability with branding that associates your product with lasting value, security, and protection. Most of the Gen X crowd work to live rather than live to work. Use your social media channels to show them how your product makes their lives easier and more fun.

As they begin to hit middle age, they’re also more concerned with taking care of their fitness and wellness, so one way to lure in a Gen X audience is by creating Pinterest pins that proclaim your product’s health benefits. (After all, 30 percent of all Pinterest users fall into the 35-54 Gen X demographic.)


While there are ways to limit who sees a post on social media, it usually makes better business sense to market to just one demographic per platform—otherwise, you’ll turn people off if the majority of your content isn’t relevant to them.

Still, despite their differences, Millennial, Gen X, and Boomers all have a few commonalities. One is the preferred type of content: no matter how old your target audience, their preferred type of content will be blog articles (which are uniformly preferred to be about 300 words, according to research), followed by images, then comments. Facebook is king for any age group when it comes to sharing that content—in fact, about 60 percent of respondents from each of the three generations use it the most for social sharing.

Demographics are a powerful way to predict a group’s buying habits, but they aren’t guaranteed. The more you can learn about your clients—whether from email click-through rates or analyzing what they’re pinning—the better you can directly tailor your marketing strategy to them. If you need help targeting your digital marketing to Generation X clients, contact the marketing professionals at Zen Media today.

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