The Guarantee
July 27

X Marks the Spot

BORN FROM 1965 TO 1976, Gen Xers are entering their peak earning years and, more importantly, haven’t yet formed strong brand loyalties, so smart brands are prioritizing their Gen X marketing strategy. As a member of Generation X, I can appreciate why our generation is characterized as having a survivor mentality. Skeptical and pragmatic, Xers have witnessed crumbling political, corporate and family structures. With rising divorce rates and financial uncertainty, more Xers were latchkey kids raised by working (and often single) parents. Having seen all of these dramatic life changes, it’s no wonder they embrace risk and question authority. Gen X saw millions of families dismantled after recessions and corporate downsizing hit their Baby Boomer parents hard. As a result, Gen X lost faith in the institution of marriage, but they also became disillusioned with corporations. By essentially raising themselves, Generation X developed a steely self-reliance. Many members of Gen X are entrepreneurs, choosing to make their own way rather than trusting corporate entities. In fact, Gen X has started more than two-thirds of U.S. businesses. At the same time, feeling orphaned as latchkey kids, Gen Xers want brands to prove they are willing to invest in a relationship. Since MTV and radio were like surrogate parents for Gen X, savvy marketers often evoke nostalgia with this generation’s music. Gen X is also tech savvy. From the bag phone to the iPhone, from vinyl to digital music, from the Tandy 1000 to the MacBook, Gen X is able to adapt to rapid changes. In fact, they thrive on technological stimuli — through their laptops, cell phones, iPad and social-media networks. Without technology, they’re bored. Because Gen X is less comfortable with debt, they appreciate a good value — and when they find it, they will tell their friends in droves. Because of this, word of mouth is the strongest way to reach Gen X. Email and the Internet, including social media, are the next strongest communication channels, along with multimedia marketing. Direct mail is more effective for Gen X than with Millennials, but less effective than it is with Boomers. Gen X speaks the language of straightforward sound bites. This generation is used to solving its own problems, so show Gen Xers how your product or service can help solve real problems. Information is power to Gen X. Volkswagen channeled its inner “Xer” in one of the most memorable and many believe, the most shared, Super Bowl commercial in recent time — called “The Force.” The spot opens showing a child donning a Darth Vader costume and accompanied by Star Wars music who tries in vain to use “the Force” to power everything from the exercise bike to the dog to the dryer. Almost at the brink of frustration, “Vader” uses his powers on the family Volkswagen with success and a well-timed assist from Dad using the car’s remote start feature. This ad worked because of the nostalgia and emotional connection generated by the music and the Star Wars theme and because Generation X loves a practical, value-oriented product. It was also a beautifully understated commercial, demonstrating the brand doesn’t take itself too seriously, which aligns with Gen X’s disdain for overstatement and hype. If Gen X is a strong demographic for your business, why market to them as if they’re Baby Boomers or Millennials? Remember that X marks the spot.


This blog was written by RedRover’s CEO & Founder, Lori Turner-Wilson. Read more about Lori and her unwavering commitment to guaranteed marketing results in her bio.

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