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As the smallest generation, Gen X tends to get overlooked when larger cultural conversations are happening, with Baby Boomers, Millennials and Gen Z dominating much of the discourse. However, as the generation gets older, Gen X, about 20% of the U.S. population, is capturing more attention, including from nonprofit AARP. According to a press release from AARP, the nonprofit’s new campaign, “‘Wise Friend and Fierce Defender,’ is aimed at creating a greater emotional connection with Gen X and Young Boomer audiences,” positioning AARP as an advocate for Gen X as they pass the half-century milestone and beyond. Brands that want to connect with Gen X need to consider the unique factors of this group when it comes to tech adoption, purchasing preferences and behavioral characteristics.
The New AARP Campaign For Gen X Encourages Thinking About The Future
The AARP campaign targeting Gen X features four TV spots that AARP describes as “warm, charming intergenerational vignettes designed to inspire, captivate and connect emotionally with people in their 50s — a time in life when they may begin to think about the next phases of life and how best to prepare.” Gen X is not known for being wildly excited about getting older, but the AARP spots appeal to the idea of making the best of what will be a long life by planning ahead.
The first spot, Anthem, aired during the Oscars. AARP chose film’s biggest night because of the nonprofit’s “close connection with Hollywood through its top-circulation publication AARP The Magazine and its Movie for Grownups Awards, both of which recently featured George Clooney.” Three additional AARP TV spots targeting generation X will air throughout the year during prime-time programming and across other media channels, including social, in order to reach Gen X consumers where they spend their time.
Gen X Consumers Are Nostalgic And Tech Savvy, And Their Unique Characteristics Offer Opportunities For Brands
In addition to the TV spots, AARP has been focusing more on Gen X on its Instagram account, highlighting popular Xers, Gen X slang and Gen X cultural touchstones, like the 35th anniversary of Ferris Bueller's Day Off. AARP is wise to leverage nostalgia, with many Gen X consumers enjoying blasts from the past. Happy memories that create affinity can be effective at capturing the attention of the Gen X audience, and once engaged, the AARP pitch transitions from fun nostalgia into benefits of membership.
Brands that leverage nostalgia across multichannel strategies can resonate with Gen X consumers, who often sit at the crossroads of traditional media and digital. In fact, as the sandwich generation between Boomers and Millennials, Gen X shares similarities with both generations when it comes to how they consume media. For example, according to Statista, as of 2019, 57% of Gen Xers watched traditional television and 52% consumed digital video. With a foot in both houses, Gen X is sometimes left unaccounted for when, in actuality, the generation’s unique characteristics offer an opportunity for advertisers to deploy inventive creative across a broad array of channels, and appealing to Gen X sensibilities and lifestyles.
Gen X Consumers Buy Online & Offline, Enjoy Bargains And Are Influenced By Social Media
Gen X is fully on board with social media, with 76% on Facebook and 47% on Instagram. Plus, Gen X users account for more than 1.5 billion views on YouTube every day. While younger generations may be more inclined to use social media for self-promotion, Gen Xers typically use social media to research purchases, keep up with the news and stay in touch with their kids. Deloitte's annual “Digital Media Trends” survey found that 49% of Gen X find ads on social media influential.
When it comes to shopping, Gen X buys online and offline and likes a bargain, often tracking down deals online before making purchases. In fact, more than 50% of Gen X uses savings apps to find deals online. Less economically comfortable than Boomers, Gen X is often in the position of caring for their parents and their kids, making them a generation that has purchasing power (26.9% of household net worth) but less ability to save. Advertisers that want to connect with Gen X consumers should be cognizant of this dichotomy and the uniqueness of this “middle” generation, as is AARP with its new campaign.
Not young, but not old. Online and off. Comfortable, but not like their parents were. The qualities that set Gen X apart from other generations are what make them special and open to advertising strategies that meet them where they are — and where they are going.
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