Gen X are responsible for 27% of global spending yet just 5% of influencer marketing spend goes to targeting them. A new report offers don’ts and dos for building a Gen X influencer strategy.

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Wavemaker has published a report revealing the distinct behaviours and desires of Gen X (45-60 year-olds). The report comes with practical advice to help you communicate with this audience more powerfully and build a creator strategy that creates the lasting trust that unlocks sales.

The report shows that whilst 92% of Gen X use social media daily, and hold 27% of the world’s spending power, just 5% of influencer marketing spend is targeted at this age group.

Key stats about Gen X

  • Makeup 31% of the global population
  • Responsible for 27% of global spending
  • 92% are on social every day
  • Comprise 28% of TikTok users - the fastest-growing generation on the platform
  • Command just 5% of brand spend on influencer campaigns


Influencer marketers’ bias

One potential reason for the disparity might be through unconscious bias. Three-quarters (75%) of influencer marketers in the UK are aged 32 or younger. Just 6% are aged 41+. This is according to the recent SUMO Influencer Marketing Salary Survey and Benefits Analysis undertaken in partnership with the Influencer Marketing Trade Body (See Creator Briefing #116).

This underrepresentation of a significant consumer base is skewing marketing decisions. The Wavemaker report points out that “in an industry that prides itself on audience insight, this blind spot is bizarre.”

The data highlights the missed opportunity this represents. Wavemaker's report shows the average influencer campaign under-performs with Gen X (30% lower retention rates, 20% fewer interactions with the content and 47% lower impact on brand opinion than Gen Z and millennials).

This doesn't mean Gen X isn't interested in creator content. Rather the benefit comes from partnering with appropriate creators. For instance, working with Gen X creators in their campaigns can help brands achieve 43% more brand site visits and 73% higher relevance scores. 

Gen X creator content also performed better due to more in-depth and informative content that is delivered in a softer tone compared to the shorter and direct tone employed by Gen Z.

There are a few other potential reasons why Gen X doesn't feature more forcefully within influencer marketing. 

Perhaps, brands over index when trying to capture new business rather than building stronger bonds with existing customers. They look to younger groups assuming they’ll have longer tenure as customers.

Also, perhaps it’s a vanity play. Focusing on younger audiences by partnering with creators can help brands seem culturally relevant.

Stephen Maycock offers another suggestion. Commenting on my LinkedIn post Stephen writes:  

 "I'd point out that the unconscious bias might also be platform support - consider the comparison between TikTok ,predominantly genz marketing go-to, who's QuickToks, AdsCenter, search functionality for references and insights centre all make it very easy to sell-in to client... in contrast, Pinterest and Facebook lack the accessible data on both creator performance and platform opportunity at large.

"I don't see the Meta agency partnership reps hustling to share insight like we do with bytedance/tiktok peers! [sic]".

4 Gen X social behaviours

Wavemaker identifies 4 key social behaviours of Gen X:

  1. The desire for connection is the top reason why Gen X use social media. For Gen X social media is a place where people come together to connect, chat about things they’re interested in, to buy and sell, to be entertained and to serve their local community.
  1. With a more established sense of self, Gen X seem less concerned with performing different versions of themself online. Instead, they use platforms to support the different real-life roles we all inhabit - friend, colleague, parent etc.
  1. Social plays a vital role for Gen X as an outsourced memory. It’s a phone book, address book, photo album.
  1. Usage is less about boredom relief. Their time on social is more scheduled and deliberate, more uninterrupted me-time. It tends to book-end their day.

The report then goes on to provide readers with a breakdown of Don’ts and dos for building a Gen X social strategy.

A version of this article first appeared in today's Creator Briefing newsletter.  Sign up here to get all of the week's top stories affecting the creator marketing industry.

Scott Guthrie is a professional adviser within the influencer marketing industry. He is an event speaker, university guest lecturer, media commentator on influencer marketing and active blogger. He works with brands, agencies and platforms to achieve meaningful results from influencer marketing. That tells you something about him but it's not giving you a lot of detail, is it? So, read more here.

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