Earlier this week, my colleague Katie Devlin wrote a piece on how marketers across industries are reaching out to millennials, making them the primary target customer. Millennials certainly represent one of the largest generations, and the segment if often treated as if it has super powers. And there’s some truth in that, as millennials are shaping how companies should engage with them – online and offline.
While millennials bask in the spotlight, those born between roughly the early 1960s and late-1970s, also known as Generation X, are often overlooked by marketers, left to walk in the shadows of not only millennials, but baby boomers as well. Are marketers missing the mark when they leapfrog Gen X and focus their marketing dollars on millennials? While these marketers hope to increase sales by targeting large quantities of customers, the end result is often a low ROI.
The Perils of Underestimating Gen X
What many marketers don’t realize is that seven of every 10 Gen Xers purchased online in 2015. So, don’t underestimate Gen X. They are at the phase of life when they are earning and spending the most. While Gen X makes up 65 million consumers, they own $125 billion in spending power. In fact, Gen X has more spending power than any other generation, with 29 percent of estimated net worth dollars and 31 percent of total income dollars.
Many Gen Xers are at their peak of their careers, but also have family responsibilities, such as raising children or taking care of aging parents. Balancing between career and life outside of work, they enjoy convenience and are digitally savvy. As a result, 81 percent of Gen Xers engage digitally to shop for products and services and spend $1,900 online in average per year.
Connecting with the Forgotten Generation
For a long time, media has categorized Gen X as the “middle child” or the “forgotten” generation. This presents a golden opportunity. Targeted offers and personalized customer experiences tailored to this group, which is accustomed to being overlooked, could create a new revenue stream and increase loyalty for your brand. And, as icing on the cake, once a Gen Xer becomes a customer, 86 percent are more likely to stay loyal to the brand versus other generations.
While Gen X offers a tempting segmentation opportunity that few companies have tapped into, be wary of only marketing to a single generation. Instead, take a more strategic approach and consider targeting multiple customer segments.
Beyond Generations: Engaging the Individual
While targeting each generation is a smart strategy, bear in mind that the individuals within each age group have unique interests, interactions and journeys. With this in mind, marketers should seek to better understand each customer’s behaviors and purchasing preferences using sophisticated customer analytics.
To truly understand your customers — over time, across channels and on both the segment and individual level — you need the right strategy. Take a look at some simple steps you can take to get you started down the right path.