Note: This blog is part of a series for marketers which describes the characteristics, values and preferences of various generations.

Generation X


Generation X

Members of Generation X are the parents of Millennials and Gen Z. They were born between 1965 and 1980. Individuals in this generation are sometimes called “latchkey children,” because both of their parents worked, which led them to be unsupervised most of the time. As they grew up, there was also an increase in divorce rates and tough economic times.

Gen X is much smaller in size compared to Millennials and Baby Boomers. They are known to hold significantly different characteristics than younger generations although early members hold traits of Baby Boomers and late members have some Millennial traits (Maye Create Design).

Gen Xers are considered skeptical and quick to question, goal-oriented and multi-taskers. Additionally, they value freedom, flexibility, recognition, mobility and diversity. They focus on value, are financially responsible and self-reliant leading them to respond better to factual messages that demonstrate cost versus value. It’s important for this generation to get a good value for their hard-earned dollars. Keep these attributes in mind, particularly the focus on value, when crafting your public relations or marketing messages.

When it comes to technology, Gen X adapts well to new technologies. They grew up during the emergence of the personal computer, lived through the dot-com bust and the introduction of the cell phone. According to Nielsen’s Generational Snapshot Study, “At 70 percent, Generation X leads the way in terms of national tablet penetration.”

Although this group is technologically savvy, they still gravitate toward traditional media platforms. A study shows that 48 percent listen to the radio, 62 percent still read newspapers and 85 percent have favorite television shows (Forrestor Research). When communicating with Gen X, traditional channels should not be overlooked because a clear majority still value information from these sources. An integrated public relations or marketing strategy, incorporating both digital and traditional communications, is typically the most effective in engaging this group.

Their quick adoption of new technologies and comfort in traditional media platforms allow Gen X to be reached by multiple communication channels. “A survey by Millward Brown Digital found that 60 percent of Xers use a smartphone daily and 75 percent are routinely on social networks” (Ad Week). Communication channels such as email and email marketing work well for this generation. The tone of the message should be informational, and emphasize the benefits received.

Email marketing campaigns can be effective when trying to get their attention and so can other platforms such as social media, television and radio. While Gen Xers like a more-straight forward approach, they can still appreciate a humorous message when done well.