Commentary

Marketing To The Generations: Boomers And Gen X

Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are a generation and a full universe apart. Boomers are retiring in droves today, while Generation Xers are at the tops of their careers. The Boomers are watching their Millennial children start families, while Gen X is painfully paying for either college tuition or summer camp. And while the two groups are very different, they have so much in common at the same time. They both saw the rise of the internet and rely on mobile phones, they often work side by side, and neither wants to have a Millennial as their supervisor at the office.

Who are the Baby Boomers?

Baby Boomers are the wealthiest generation, making up 40% of the consumer population – and half of consumer spending, according AARP. They like their comfortable lifestyle, so they tend to view any purchases they make as an investment—and they research accordingly.

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In terms of their advertising and media consumption, Boomers were only a little late to the digital party. They’re slower than younger generations to adopt new technology habits, but they get there. According to recentFacebook research, most Boomers begin their customer journeys in-store, but a growing number are embarking online (more than 30%) or on mobile devices (just under 20%). They use the internet and email a lot, but they’re not big app users — yet.

Marketing to Boomers

Trust is a key factor when it comes to convincing and converting Boomers. Boomers do their research, and they’re going to make sure they get the best product at the best price. For marketers, this means:

  • With all the research they’re doing, search is an important channel.
  • Give them all the information they need to make an informed decision. That means lots of content, data and useful information.
  • Boomers trust their peers, friends, and relatives a lot more than they trust you. Reviews, testimonials and recommendations will go far. 
  • Personalization will also be very effective. Boomers appreciate the tailored user experience.
  • Provide aging Boomers access to easier reading and viewing options, like larger text or increased contrast.

Finally, Boomers are still media traditionalists. They watch TV and read magazines, and their computers are still their favorite way to access the web. Make an effort to use your marketing materials to bridge the gap between their online and offline worlds by building simple, clean, consistent and user-friendly experiences across channels.

Generation X

Like the Boomers, Gen X prefers marketing material that connects and that originates from a source they know. Gen X also still enjoys traditional media like radio, TV and newspapers—although they are faster to adopt new media. While digital, they are not typically mobile-first and prefer using laptops to access the web.

Unlike Boomers, Gen Xers are not wealthy, generally speaking, despite being high earners. They may earn more than their parents did, but—now at the peak of their earning years—they typically havesix times the debt. Many lost their wealth or their jobs during the Great Recession and are still financially fragile as a result, and most are unlikely to be prepared for retirement. The result of these conditions has left a population of cautious spenders who fear debt and demand honesty, integrity and transparency.

Marketing to Gen X

Gen X wants authenticity from the brands: they know who they are and what they want, and they expect brands to have the same confidence. In terms of reaching this audience, there are a few tips to remember:

  • Unlike Boomers, Gen X prefers short, concise copy.
  • Email is still Gen X’s primary means of messaging, and they check it frequently.
  • They still likes direct mail, too, and it can move the needle.
  • Their expectation of honesty and transparency isrepaid in loyalty. Offer loyalty programs, and you’ll see the rewards.

While Boomers still outnumber and outspend Generation X, don’t discount the “forgotten generation.” Sandwiched between the wealthy, retiring Boomers and the more diverse, more liberal Millennials, Generation X is currently at its prime. Earn their trust with transparency and honest marketing, and you could win customers for life.

2 comments about "Marketing To The Generations: Boomers And Gen X".
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  1. R. M. from self, February 13, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.

    "Generation X

    newspapers—although they are faster to adopt new media. While digital, they are not typically mobile-first and prefer using laptops to access the web."

    Is "newspaper" defined by ink on paper? or paywall subscriptions? As they are caught in daily multi-generational family issues, hard to not see them as mobile first.  Would love to see the city vs suburban skews.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, February 13, 2018 at 7:44 p.m.

    So now we have ads saying, "Use you house as your bank. Take out loans against your equity." If anyone thinks the road was bumpy before, wait until this one which will be worse when the debt is deeper without bailouts.

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