Social media isn’t the preserve of the young, despite what marketers think. A new Wavemaker study has done Generation X (45-60 year olds) the courtesy of showing an interest in their media habits and – surprise – discovered that brands are missing a big opportunity to connect with an affluent and switched on generation.
Every day, 92% of Gen X are on social media and they make up nearly a third of TikTok’s user base – but only 5% of spend on brand influencer campaigns. TikTok posts aimed at Gen X tend to be longer than normal and heavy on self-improvement, as if you lose your sense of humour after 45.
Yet Wavemaker labels Generation X as the most affluent generation of all time thanks to the $70tn of wealth passed on to them by their Boomer parents. While Gen X are no more homogenous than any other age group, it seems they do have common needs, wants and behaviours on social platforms.
Perhaps brands are put off by the more discerning nature of the Gen X consumer: they are only half as likely as younger audiences to buy on impulse. Instead of clicking on whatever is thrown at them, 30% of Generation X want to be sure they can trust a brand they are buying from.
Because they have a stronger sense of themselves, 45-60s are less performative than younger users; they prefer to keep their social media use to a closer circle of people, focusing on connections who are part of their real lives like friends, colleagues and kids.
Marks & Spencer (pictured), Trinny London, L’Oreal, and Oatly are all singled out as doing a good job with Generation X by picking out the right influencers, while Paramount has succeeded by tapping into a nostalgia sweet spot.
Midlifers are getting a lot more media attention lately (probably because many of them are in charge of newspapers and TV), but coverage is too often about age-defying health and fitness regimes, with a heavy dose of menopause advice.
The ad industry is run by Gen X too, but it seems that the bosses are in denial about their age, chasing youth and missing a trick in the process.