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Generation X: Their online habits

With much focus on Generation Z, or the Millennials, and their use of social media, we at The Practice were keen to take a look at where Generation X come into the digital equation. Known as those born between the mid 1960s and 1980s, Generation X are often overlooked.

But with a secure disposable income, high level of education and with a reputation for being the first generation of social media users, Generation X are an important demographic for marketers. Comprising around 65 million Americans alone, this is still a large audience to consider- around 65% are active Facebook users logging on at least once per month, while around 15% use Twitter, with this figure steadily increasing. Pinterest is also hugely popular amongst the female proportion of this audience. And like Generation Z, this group are also mobile reliant, with many owning a tablet too. While Generation X aren’t as clued up about social media trends as their younger counterparts, they are comfortable with Facebook and other familiar platforms, using these regularly to connect with friends, family, and the brands they are loyal to. And as the parents or superiors of Generation Z, digital marketers should remember that their messages should resonate to both audiences- after all, it’s Generation X that will often be responsible for making the purchasing decisions.

With Facebook, Pinterest, and gradually Twitter, the primary social media networks, what can marketers do to reach Generation X? Video is a popular medium amongst this group, with a reported 78.7% downloading or streaming video around once per month. With this in mind, Facebook marketers should look to include a greater mix of video content or links too, as well as image and information-based posts. Call-to-action posts should also feature, as it’s this generation who will look to spend online and develop brand advocacy. Generation X are also categorized by their interest in online product research before purchasing, meaning that Pinterest is a great platform for marketers to provide information-rich content. With this group now spending 37.4 hours online in an average month, with pursuits centered on search and discovery, shopping, and connecting, the market is wide open for brands to reach their audience.

So which brands purposefully market to the Generation X demographic? Hotel group, Hyatt, is one such company who have researched the characteristics of this group, particularly focusing on their clients who travel for business. Hyatt discovered that its Generation X patrons enjoyed a casual and relaxed travelling atmosphere, and so created its subsidiary boutique chain, Andaz, in order to appeal. Honda also based much of its consumer research on the Generation X group, finding them to be a more skeptical group than Millennials- they were found to be more cynical of advertised products, less likely to make instant purchases, and less likely to trust brands until they had a reason to show loyalty. With this in mind, Honda set about trying to feature a level of skepticism into its commercials, mimicking the perceived thoughts of their audience. Their “Honda Opinions” video commercial, for instance, features a 30-something couple shopping for a new car while referring to an array of online reviews. For Generation X marketers then, success means identifying with this group’s traits, but also realising that their social media habits are quickly catching up to those of younger audiences.

Do you think marketers should do more to reach this middling demographic? We’d love to hear your thoughts so please tweet to us @PracticeDigital, and share your comments on our Facebook page too.