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Is Generation X an untapped goldmine for content marketers?

Slackers no more

With the spotlight shining ever-brighter on Millenial money, content marketers seem to have overlooked a significant portion of potential customers – Generation X.

Along comes Gen X

Born between 1965 and 1979, Gen X are often labelled the ‘unlucky generation’ because they’re sandwiched between two much louder generations – the Millennials and the Baby Boomers. But Generation X now represents almost 5 million Australians. They might have flown under the radar for a while, but many brands are waking up to the fact that Gen Xers make up 35 percent of today’s workforce and are fast entering their prime earning years.

This generation, which for a long time was described as a bunch of slackers and latchkey kids, is no longer plagued by its lacklustre reputation. As the first edition of Gen Xers now enters their 50s, they have begun replacing retiring baby boomers in senior leadership roles. They are independent and adaptable, value life/work balance and are more tech savvy than their predecessors. However, as described in a report by McCrindle Research, they remain sceptical, with a ‘trust-no-one’ attitude, which can make it daunting for brands trying to target this generation.


What do they value?

The results of an academic roundtable conference entitled Generation X Turns 50 found, “Many people in this demographic have been blessed with an impervious spirit,” and are “naturally adept at acclimating to change”.

Furthermore, a study from communication consultants Elizabeth Foley and Adrienne LeFevre, the Enrichment Journal, and Kenneth Baugh, author of A Guide To Understanding Generation X Sub-Cultures, revealed five core values of this generation:

  • Relationships. Xers both fear and crave them.
  • Fun. They value fun and don’t just want to live to work.
  • Experience. Gen X wants to enjoy life, make a difference, and do something meaningful besides punch a clock from 9 to 5.
  • Freedom. They don’t like to be labelled and want to be seen as unique individuals. They are creative, independent and struggle with rules. They value flexibility and spontaneity.
  • Family. Xers don’t want to make the same mistakes their parents did and spend time as much time as they can with their kids. X dads, especially, are incredibly committed to their children.

Content made for Gen X

They might not have been immersed in the digital world from birth like millennials, but Gen Xers are certainly mass adopters of technology. Studies, both here in Australia and the rest of the world, have shown the digital pioneers are keeping up with technology and that, for the most part, their behaviour is much closer to Millennials than Baby Boomers.

Like Millenials, they are increasingly using mobile devices to access the internet, as noted in a survey from the Australian Communications and Media Authority. With Google putting emphasis on everything mobile, it makes sense to adapt content to target Gen X on smaller screens by creating concise copy with enticing images, strong headlines and important information at the top.

Social media remains a preferred way for Gen Xers to spend their time online. As the 2016 social media report from Sensis shows, the majority of Gen X are using social networking at least once a day. What stands out, however, is that they mainly use social media first thing in the morning or after work. Since they’ve embraced Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram as their favourites platforms, brands can take advantage of these facts by posting content during key periods.

As for the content itself, blog posts offer a great opportunity for brands to engage in a meaningful way with this generation. Videos are also on the rise across all internet users, with CISCO predicting this form of content will soon represent the vast majority of the world’s internet traffic. But whatever the medium, videos, blogs or social media posts, content targeted to Gen Xers should focus on the values they hold dear and offer factual information to gain their trust.

It is true that, as the middle-child, Generation X makes less noise than the others. By paying attention to who they are as a demographic and by aligning with their values marketers can finally appeal to a generation often forgotten.

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Caroline Faucher
Caroline is a Canadian-Australian writer and online communication strategist with over 10 years experience in media, not-for-profits and government. Now based in the seaside city of Newcastle, she enjoys the variety of topics a freelance life offers and the challenge of turning complex ideas into simple messages.