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Gen X Spending Habits Include Bargain Shopping Online

February 22, 2021 Sarah Cavill

Generation X is looking for bargains, and they are relying on digital options to facilitate their conservative shopping approaches. Despite being raised latchkey kids, which prepared Xers for the isolation and stay-at-home orders that came with the pandemic, the pressures of caring for parents and kids, working from home and the economic impact of the crisis have caused changes in Gen X lifestyles and spending habits. A recent article by Mark Dolliver for eMarketer, discussed the impact of COVID-19 on Gen X spending habits, based on a recent report, Gen X Amid the Pandemic.

With Bigger Incomes And Bigger Families, Gen X Shoppers Are An Important Consumer Cohort For Brands

The pandemic impacted spending by Gen Xers, with 51% cutting back on discretionary purchases. Typically, Gen X household spending ($76,788) exceeds that of the national household ($63,036), but Gen X spending was squeezed during the last year. However, “with above-average incomes and bigger-than-average households – and at a life stage that necessitates lots of spending –  Xers remain a cohort marketers cannot afford to ignore,” reported Dolliver.

Gen X Shoppers Like Deals & Store Brands

According to eMarketer, “86% of Xers (ages 40 to 54) said they would try a new brand if offered a coupon or discount.” And, many Gen X shoppers are choosing from both online and offline coupons with the best deals winning out. Brands able to reach Gen X with digital promotions and coupons are likely to have an in with these savvy tech users. 

Gen X, known in the past for being brand loyal regardless of cost, relied heavily on store brands during the pandemic, both out of necessity and for the savings white-label products offer. Preferring store brands is a trend likely to stick around post-pandemic, which could offer grocery retailers an opportunity to nurture affinity for their in-house brands. For big-name CPG brands, bargains and ease of online ordering could be the key to the hearts of busy, bargain-hunting Gen Xers.

Gen X Shoppers Turn To Digital Platforms For Groceries

Considered digitally conversant, but not digitally native, Gen Xers are highly tech reliant. Although, Gen X shoppers also enjoy traditional television and stick with Facebook in lieu of trying new social media platforms. GenXers have prioritized digital shopping over the last year, including for groceries, a growing ecommerce vertical, and Gen X shoppers tend to rely on consumer reviews for reassurances when making purchases. 

As the generation that sits between Boomers and Millennials, Gen X is reachable at many different touchpoints, with multichannel targeting strategies likely to be effective. (Although anything too slick is a no go. The generation that listened to Nirvana isn’t interested in tricks and gimmicks.) Overall, 27% of Gen X says their shifts to online shopping are likely to stick, so it’s essential for brands and retailers to incorporate digital strategies when targeting the Gen X audience.

Post-Pandemic Splurges Are Likely From Gen X Shoppers

Like most shoppers, Gen X has indulged in some “retail therapy” during the pandemic. “We’ve actually seen a propensity for shoppers to treat themselves,” said Sarah O’Grady, senior director of brand marketing at Valassis. Some consumers (50.1% of 35 to 44s and 42.2% of 45 to 54s) have leveraged buy-now, pay-later (BNPL) options to enjoy retail indulgences. Additionally, many Gen X shoppers are looking ahead to making big purchases on travel, cars and household goods when COVID-19 is in the rear window.

Brands should continue to use digital solutions to fulfill the wants and needs of Gen X shoppers during the ups and downs of the pandemic, creating opportunities for engagement and sales, and staying prepared for the future when Gen Xers will feel more confident spending freely again. 

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About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Senior Marketing Communications Writer, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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