Born between 1965 and 1980, and with a current age range of 41-56, Generation X is one of the smallest generational cohorts, but it still holds more buying power than the largest group of U.S. consumers – Millennials. In fact, Gen X spends more on housing, clothing, and entertainment than any other generation, so they’re an attractive group for marketers to target.[1]

But as the Silent Generation fades away and marketers begin to pay more attention to Gen Zers and Generation Alphas, Gen X gets lost in the middle and overshadowed by Boomers and Millennials because of their sizable populations.

Gen X: Understanding the Demographic

The term “Generation X” was popularized in Douglas Couplands’ 1991 novel, Generation X: Tales For An Accelerated Culture. Coupland’s title was partly an homage to Billy Idols’ UK punk band before Idol started his solo career in 1981. In the novel, Coupland tells a story about a group of people who wanted to escape status, social climbing, and the American ideal of generating a significant amount of wealth. He depicted this generation as outsiders that couldn’t be easily defined by the typical societal standards. But does the generation defined in 1991 as cynical and anti-establishment resemble the generation as we know it today?

Well, Gen X has experienced a lot since the 1990s. Theirs was the first generation of latchkey kids who came home to an empty house after school because both parents were working. They witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall on network television and the rise of MTV on Cable. And they were the first generation that readily adapted to new technology in the form of personal computers and mobile phones.

After witnessing vast changes in the political, economic, and social environments – like the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the bursting of the dotcom bubble – this generation would be forgiven for developing a cynical attitude, a lack of faith in the American Dream, and a distrust of the status quo.  It doesn’t help that Gen X is sometimes referred to as the lost generation. They often feel forgotten and unseen.

There’s no way to easily stereotype Generation X – especially since younger members of the generation have had different experiences than the oldest members as they were coming of age. But the Pew Research Center, various other market research firms, and even the New York Times have been able to provide insights into Gen X’s attitudes and behaviors.

A portion of this generation was born before the rise of digital media and is similar to Baby Boomers in that they still spend time with traditional media like television, radio, and newspapers. But, overall, the amount of time Generation X spends online rivals that of younger generations, and even the oldest members increased their use of social media over the past year.[2]

So, when thinking about how to reach Generation X, should you consider influencer marketing? Absolutely! Gen X is very receptive to brands that make an effort to win them over with authentic messaging. You can gain their loyalty if you earn their trust.

What Should Brands Know About Gen X’s Online Behavior?

Although a large proportion of Generation X consumes traditional offline media, they also spend up to two hours per day on social media and expect to invest even more time there in the future.[2]

They spend most of their social media time on Facebook, where they’re able to keep up with friends and family. But social media is also a tool that helps them research businesses. More than half of this generation’s consumers will look for brand information on social media before they land on the brand’s website to continue their research.[2] 

Other social media channels they favor include YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.[3] Gen Xers are avid DIYers, so they are likely turning to YouTube to watch how-to videos and find ways to solve problems on their own.

It’s common for members of Generation X to care for their children and aging parents in one multigenerational household, and this additional responsibility often means Gen Xers are looking for discounts and deals. And even though they hold a great deal of purchasing power, Gen X has the highest average credit card debt, followed by Boomers and Millennials.[4]

In short, they want to find out everything they can about brands both before and after purchasing, but they don’t care for strong sales tactics. Authentic influencer marketing messages could be impactful for this generation, but brands need to know the right way to approach it.

How To Target Generation X With Influencer Marketing

If you can get Gen Xers on your side, they can become your best brand advocates. Learn how to appeal to Generation X in both your messaging and choice of messengers.

Talk About How Your Products Deliver Value

Overall, Gen X’s financial health is in good shape, as wealth rose 50% for this group since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.[5] However, as a generation, they are burdened by debt from student loans.

Gen Xers aren’t necessarily interested in the lowest prices, even though they want to know how your price tag will affect their savings account. They are looking for quality products that are available at reasonable costs. If you offer a product that meets their needs, they’ll be even more receptive to it if you show them how they can save money on the purchase. Discount codes, coupons, promotions, loyalty programs, and information about the value you provide compared to your competitors will make a strong impact.

Talk About Your Benefits But Steer Clear of Hard-Sell Techniques

Gen Xers are turned off by sales-y messages because they often come off as inauthentic. Influencers should state your product benefits in a way that clearly and accurately expresses how what you offer will solve problems. Your Gen X audience will appreciate that your brand recognizes them as smart and savvy consumers. 

Since this generation also has a lot of questions about products, make sure your influencer takes the time to address each and every one of them. If you educate Gen X followers and convince them that your products provide value, they will share this information with their friends on social media.

Video Appeals to Gen X

The DIY generation relies on video to help them solve problems, so include video content where it makes sense for your products. 

Repurpose influencer video content on your website because although Gen Xers often navigate to YouTube to learn about products, they’re also searching relevant keywords on Google. Invest in keyword research to improve your SEO and optimize titles and tags that will draw Gen Xers to your site.

Appeal To Gen Xers’ Love of Nostalgia

Gen Xers are at the point in their careers where they’re faced with more stress and pressure, so it’s not surprising that they would look fondly upon the days when they had fewer responsibilities and were more carefree. Similar to Baby Boomers, Generation X loves to look back at the television shows they used to watch and the music that shaped their experience as part of the MTV generation. They’re also entertained by old commercials and popular toys and games from their early childhood.

Ask your influencers to periodically introduce nostalgia into a post – perhaps by using polls, vintage photos or videos, and even asking for comments. Since the members of this generation often feel like they’re not valued by brands, make them feel seen and understood by demonstrating that you’ve invested in creating content that they enjoy.

Encourage Product Reviews

Gen Xers are diligent about doing their own product research online, but they’re also influenced by impartial reviews and will scrutinize reviews and testimonials before making a purchase. If you’re confident your products perform well among your target audience, continue to build your reputation by asking social media followers for reviews. 

Work With Niche Influencers That Appeal to Gen Xers Interests

Even though Gen X likes to follow celebrities on social media, they do so because they’re interested in their lives – not necessarily because they’re looking for product recommendations from them.

Search for authentic and engaging influencers by honing in on topics that interest members of Generation X. Here are some niches you may want to explore:

  • College planning
  • Career change
  • Home improvement
  • Retirement planning and Social Security
  • Caring for elderly parents
  • Health, fitness, and nutrition appropriate for their stage of life
  • Fashion and beauty targeted to their generation

Focus on Niches, Nostalgia, and a No-Nonsense Approach for Gen X Influencer Marketing

Gen X isn’t like previous generations or the ones that followed. And you can’t learn everything you need to know about its members by reading Douglas Coupland’s book, watching Reality Bites, reading a Pew Research report, or scanning the many feature articles the New York Times has devoted to this group. Generation X may not be America’s largest generation or its wealthiest, but it does contribute significantly to the nation’s spending.

If your brand can show Generation X that it understands what they need and what appeals to them – and do so in a way that leans toward authenticity and away from the hard sell – you’ll increase your chances of winning them over to your side. Choose influencers who are knowledgeable about their niches, can engage and relate well with this audience, and can provide useful product information in a way that builds trust.