Understanding Gen X: Characteristics, Beliefs, & Marketing Strategies

Posted by Chris Zook ● Jun 7, 2022 9:00:00 AM

Gen X comprises many of today's executives and decision-makers in the US economy. They're in the prime of their careers, and they bear the responsibility of both running their families and, in some cases, running their businesses. 

So why is it that Gen X is becoming known as the "Forgotten Generation?"

According to our research, the second-oldest generation of active consumers is critical to keeping businesses as varied as mass merchandisers, grocery chains, and online retailers afloat.

Engaging Gen X can be tricky as a result. But it can also be a promising market segment to address with the kind of authenticity and values that Gen X exhibits. 

In this blog, we'll take a closer look at Gen X and dive into the details of what makes them unique, especially in contrast to other generations. 

What Is Gen X?

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This is an age group that consists of individuals born between the mid-1960s and 1980, the parents of the Millennials.

Gen X comprises the children of Baby Boomers, including individuals born between 1944 and 1964.

Generation X experienced periods of considerable social reform. The group has also been known as the "latchkey generation" because of the significant drop in parental supervision the culture experienced.

Higher divorce rates, higher maternal participation in the economy, and greater daycare choices were all considered factors in this forced independence. As a result of this early-onset independence, Gen X tends to portray themselves as self-sufficient, free thinkers.

Gen X grew up in the era of malls, arcades, hard rock and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

They presided over the emergence of the first personal computers and home gaming consoles, but technologies like smartphones and the internet didn’t become ubiquitous until their adulthood.

Characteristics of Gen X

We mentioned this earlier, but Gen X definitely wants you to remember it:  they’re self-reliant and autonomousgen-x-characteristics

From being left alone due to single parenthood or being latchkey kids with both parents working, they evolved to cope and depend on themselves.

As a result, they identify with self-images of being capable of doing plenty of things independently, balancing high productivity with originality.

Gen X, more than any other generation, had to adjust to shifting cultural and working environments.

As such, they are adaptable to external anxieties, and value diversity.

Gen X desire a healthy work-life balance that allows them to work hard while also having social time and connecting with their companions.

They enjoy taking vacation days from work to travel, and enjoy a vast variety of cuisines from around the globe.

Differences between Gen X and Millennials

gen-x-vs-millennials

Millennials are more inclined to use advanced technologies, spend considerably more time on social media, and prefer streaming services over traditional television viewing.

Gen X spends comparatively little time on social media. Older members of Gen X also prefer keeping up with events via traditional media, such as television and radio.

That doesn’t mean they’re nowhere to be found on social, though — YouTube and Facebook are popular online platforms.

Still, more tame digital activities, like browsing online reviews and stores, appeal to many Gen X. These individuals are also brand loyalists, and feel that services like banking should be more of a personal experience than that provided by services like PayPal or Venmo.

Millennials would rather browse for things beforehand, and employ digital debt management solutions to avoid the inconvenience of finding an ATM or going to a bank.

Gen X Consumer Trends

gen-x-consumer-trends

Striving to achieve a healthy work-life balance can be common in this age bracket, since members of Generation X are often in high-level positions and at the pinnacle of their careers, working long hours in addition to family obligations.

They gravitate toward activities designed to decompress or distract from daily responsibilities while adding flavor to their lives when they can.

This demographic values socialization opportunities, whether personal or professional. Going to see a favorite band can be as satisfying as a networking event at the local craft brewery.

Gen X also prefer to be well informed, and make well-informed decisions.

Employing instructional marketing strategies and advertising that provides both engagement and knowledge that they can implement on their own can often create deeper connections between brands and Gen X consumers.

Engaging with Gen X

Here are some marketing strategies to help connect your brand with Gen X:

Offer Discountsengaging-gen-x

Discounts were commonplace when Gen X was growing up.

Coupons have come a long way over the digital decades, but you can still incorporate this into your marketing automation strategy as a valuable tool targeting members of Generation X specifically.

QR codes, newsletter promotions, and social media contests are just a few of the ways you can update the concept of the shopper’s discount while still resonating with a generation that remembers growing up clipping coupons.

Use In-Store Displays

While they often shop online via large outlets like eBay or Amazon, many members of Gen X prefer brick-and-mortar establishments. This does not guarantee they find the experience enjoyable — nobody does all the time! But an eye-catching, informative display offering a bargain can both intrigue and inspire nostalgia in Generation X shoppers.

Get the Whole Study Report

Gen X is just the tip of the iceberg in our most recent research. 

Now, you can get the full study to take an equally insightful look at Gen Z, Millennials, and Boomer+. 

Discover how you can engage each of these demographics based on what they value and seek from brands like yours. 

Download your copy of our study report today!

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Topics: Market Research, Consumer Sentiment