Tricks of the marketing trade

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Generation This, Generation That: Generation X

Generation this, generation that. Consumer groups today are mind boggling. Introduce the word millennial into the mix and all sorts can happen for brands; messages are confused and tones are wrong. BD Network have compiled ‘White Noise’, a whitepaper cutting through the white noise between generations and demystifying the rumours so that brands can understand their consumers better. BD Network have rolled out Gen Y and Z  over the last few weeks and we will finish with the last, although certainly not least in forward thinking, Generation X.

Generation X are those born between the 60’s and 80’s. We may think of this generation as the ‘Facebook mums’ who post about their kids and are slightly behind the times, but these post war babies are the savviest, shrewdest and most adaptable to change out of the three. This generation grew up in a time of change. They have experienced tech from rotary dial phones through to fingerprint-reading-all-encompassing smart phones. This has made them adaptable and responsive to changes in society.

Adapting to wearables

Generation X aren’t just wearing wearables. They are talking about them online, suggesting that this tech means much more to them than you may first think. According to a report by Outdoor industry, Generation X are using wearable fitness tech to monitor performance, stay ahead of issues and manage their health and well-being. A study by Future Laboratory reports that a massive 59 per cent of Gen Xer’s are planning to adopt some sort of wearable fitness tech in the next five years. These experienced creatives are up to date with the latest trends, technology and methods of fitness.

This generation did not grow up with mobile internet, and so they can really see the benefit these devices are making. Devices such as Fitbit and Jawbone are assisting Gen X to count their steps, to ensure they are doing enough every day, while devices such a Spire are tracking breathing patterns, enabling users to reduce stress and anxiety.

Shrewd shoppers

Having seen the rise of fall of ideas and brands adapting to the ever changing consumer, generation X are very savvy and not afraid to hunt for a good bargain. Having been so immersed in ideas that work and those that fail, they are cynical, so when it comes to parting with hard earned money, the will do so with caution.

According to a report by the Future Laboratory, they have adopted a ‘high-low’ retail strategy. Expensive treats and gifts from Waitrose is no skin off a Gen Xer’s nose, but basics and disposables from cheaper retailers is also integrated into their routine. Going to Primark for basic clothes and Hobbs for something a little more special is all part of the balanced lifestyle of this shrewd generation. They know exactly what they are buying into, so transparency is key with these consumers.

Improved shopping

John Lewis have hit the spot when it comes to finding a balance between digital and physical shopping with their ‘click and collect’ triumph. It has obtained six million orders per year, despite charging £2 for orders under £30 since July 2015, proving that it is an invaluable phygital (physical and digital) service to its Gen X consumer base.

Unlike the ‘instant gratification’ expected by Millennials, John Lewis’ ‘How we shop’ report from 2015 talks about how consumers are less about ‘I need it now’ and more about ‘I need it how, when and where I want’, a phrase that is typical of generation X. In an attempt to produce loyalty to the products already purchased, Waitrose are in talks of rolling out a device called ‘Hiku’, that allows the user to scan the barcodes of items that already exist at home in order to add them to a shopping list, ready for ordering. A similar App is being tested by Sainsbury’s in order to allow shoppers to avoid queueing to pay for their items at the checkout. It is services like this that are playing to Gen X’s needs to get the best out of their shopping trips, for the best deal, in the best place.

Generation X know what works and what doesn’t. They have seen and adapted to change so they are frugal but do not mind paying more money to get good quality items. Generation X are the ones to watch – they will part with their cash for a product that improves their health and well-being, and is given to them at the right place and the right time.

Alix Hope is creative strategist at BD Network.

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