Commentary

GenX Highly Engaged

Generation X are viewed by many as the hard-to- reach generation, defined more by the millennial and baby boomer brackets they sit outside of, rather than the characteristics that set them apart. The myth is that unlike younger consumers, Generation X aren’t digital natives. In reality, they’re a highly engaged audience, drawn to meaningful and purposeful interactions in the online space. 

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This report explores: Profiling Gen X, Device Trends, Media Consumption, Social Media, and Purchase Journey: 

  • In this report, Generation X is defined as internet users who say they are aged 35-53 in 2017 (born 1964-1982). The majority of Gen Xers are busy professionals, likely to have families, and as a generation they wield great spending power. But as they lack the luxury of time, their online activities are more driven by purpose and intent than casual browsing. 
  • Gen X are more likely to be getting online via a smartphone than a PC/lap- top. They’re doing more of the 34 online activities we track on their mobiles than their computers, says the report. 
  • Broadcast TV is still their biggest source of entertainment, but they’re now devoting a third of their daily TV time to online TV/streaming services. Gen X are moving with digital trends, just as Millennials and Gen Z are. 
  • They spend almost 2 hours a day on social media and the majority have a Facebook account. Just like Millennials, they are multi-networkers, and have an average of 7 social media accounts. 
  • Gen X are more purposeful in how they use social media, rather than using it just for casual browsing. One of the top reasons they use social media is to keep-up-to-date with the news and about 30% are searching for products to buy. 
  • Traditional marketing channels are still king and they’re most likely to come across new brands via TV ads. Digital channels have a bigger impact than many may expect: 28% find new brands via online ads and a third are researching brands on social media. 
  • Gen X tend to earn more than average, but they’re still price-conscious. Discounts and rewards are important for encouraging them to buy, and they value loyalty points more than any generation. If brands get it right, Gen Xers are the generation most likely to be loyal, with 3 in 5 agreeing that once they find a brand they like, they’ll stick with it. 

Top five attitudes, according to the report:

            When I need information, the first place I look is the Internet             81%

            Family is the most important thing in my life     80%

            It is important to be well informed about things            79%

            You should seize opportunities when they arise          78%

            It is important to stay in touch with what is going on in the world      77%

And:

            11% are senior decision makers at work, more likely to be strongly interested in gardening and the news

            2 in 3 worry about data collection 

            60% exercise at least twice a week 

Expanded Summation

  • Gen X Favor Smartphones  PCs, laptops and tablets may collectively continue to capture the biggest share (56%) of Gen Xers daily time online, but mobiles have made great headway in becoming the go-to device for this generation, who are slowly becoming just as attached as Millennials. 
  • Gen Xers As Attached To Their Smartphones As Millennials  Despite misconceptions that this generation aren’t “digital natives”, our data shows that they’re now more likely to be getting online via a smartphone than a PC/laptop - with smartphones overtaking this year.. 
  • Mobile  56% of the 34 activities we track are now mobile-first, with mobiles typically ahead for on-the-go behaviors like social media usage and music-streaming. Computers retain a lead for 12 of these activities (35%). They still play an important role for behaviors that are more easily done on a larger screen like accessing emails and visiting retail sites.
    • Mobile is Key to the Purchase Journey   Many assume that the younger generations have driven the upswing in ecommerce, but Gen X have actually been a key force, and were among the first to adopt online shopping behaviors. Almost three quarters made a purchase online last month, and just as their attachment to mobile is evident elsewhere, it’s a key device throughout the purchase journey too. 
    • Elsewhere  The majority of Gen Xers elsewhere, especially in Europe, are still more likely to be reaching for a desktop for these activities in the consumer journey. PCs/laptops hold the greatest lead at the actual point of purchase, possibly in part a result of the perceived security of these devices compared to mobiles, especially as 62% of Gen Xers are privacy-conscious. 
    • Tech Driven Growth  As tech improves further, and smartphones become even more deeply rooted in everyday behaviors, sometimes without an alternative device option, those Gen Xers yet to shift into mobile commerce will surely make the move. This is already somewhat visible in physical purchases, with 3 in 10 Gen Xers using their smartphone to pay for an item in the past month through contact- less mobile payments and a similar number scanning QR codes.
    • Multi-Net Workers   Despite being relatively time poor due to busy lifestyles, Gen Xers are multi- networkers and keep a portfolio of social accounts. The average Gen Xer has 7 social media accounts, compared to almost 10 for Millennials, and 5 for Baby Boomers. While not all networks are visited with the same frequency, Gen Xers are clearly switching between different platforms throughout the day and for different purposes – a behavior that mobile has facilitated. 
    • Entertainment  Broadcast TV is still the biggest source of entertainment for Gen Xers, but that’s not to say they haven’t embraced all things digital, says the report. In fact, a third of daily time spent watching TV-based content is dedicated to online TV/streaming services, and 1 in 5 paid for a TV or movie streaming service last month, showing they’re actively engaging with and paying for this new media. 
    • News consumption And Social  When we look at the places online that Gen Xers are consuming news, social media emerges as the go-to, ahead of both publisher websites and curated news apps in all regions but Europe. Clearly the opportunity to consume news alongside other content resonates with Gen Xers like it does with the younger generations, and the shareability of content on social and its role as a communal discussion platform is ideal for keeping in the loop
    • Rewards Lead to Purchase & Loyalty   That’s not to say that rewards completely outweigh quality though. High-quality products are the biggest driver of brand advocacy, followed closely by rewards. The key point is that they’re prepared to spend money, but they want value for money, whether that’s reflected in the quality of the product/service, the customer service received, or through other rewarding returns. 

As with any generation, the deal-breaker is to understand the needs of Gen Xers without generalization, tailoring brand message and strategy accordingly. After all, with spending power in mind, Gen X’s return and interaction is potentially more rewarding than any other, concludes the report. 

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