Gen X: Wavemaker unveils first of its kind research into the global over-45s consumer

They're on track to be the most affluent generation of all time but only the 13% feels represented in social advertising

Wavemaker today unveiled research into marketing mishaps and bias towards over-45s in social. The report, Finding the Gen X Factor, investigated 45-60 years old audiences or ‘Generation X’ often ignored by brands and the advertising industry, particularly across social media advertising.

Wavemaker undertook first of its kind research into the global Gen X consumer. The aim was to challenge misperceptions and to understand what a successful Gen X social media strategy looks like.

Gen X is responsible for almost a third (27%) of global spending and has rapidly rising earnings and savings. Wavemaker found the majority (92%) of Gen X surveyed use social media every day and are the fastest growing generation on TikTok. Despite making up almost a third (28%) of TikTok’s user base, only 5% of brand spend on influencer campaigns is targeted at Gen X.

Accounting for over a third (31%) of the global population, only 4% of the ad industry’s research into different generations includes Gen X. A quarter (24%) of TV ads typically feature characters over 50 years old, compared with over three quarters (76%) which feature 19-49s. The research revealed that one in 10 (13%) feel represented in the advertising they see, far lower than younger generations, although significantly higher than Boomers (60-75s) at just 9%.

Typical influencer campaigns tested performed far worse with this group than with Gen Z and millennials with 30% lower retention rates, 20% fewer interactions with the content and 47% lower impact on brand opinion. Posts from Gen X creators performed better with that audience and are on average three quarters (75%) longer than posts from Gen Z (10-25s) or millennial (25-45s) creators. They also tend to be more in depth and informative and favour softer, self-improvement language over the direct, salesy tone employed by Gen Z. Although they will scroll past irrelevant content, if it’s worth seeing, Gen X are prepared to stick around when they are interested.

Trust is (30%) more important to Gen X’s buying decisions than it is for younger generations. They consider 27% fewer brands than younger audiences and their purchases tend to be more driven by need. In contrast, younger audiences are twice as likely to have the ‘treat yo self’ mentality and buy on impulse across everything from replacement shower gel to a new car.

Featured image: Finding the Gen X Factor / Wavemaker