In part one of Connecting your Association, we covered the communication styles and preferences of Millennials (generally born between 1981 and 1996). We learned that Millennials are attracted to the message and the WHY behind your association. This will draw them in and retain them as loyal members. While younger Millennials are finishing up university and starting their careers, older Millennials and Gen X’s habits tend to cross over. To add to the crossover, research also shows that older Gen Z tendencies lean towards Baby Boomer tendencies.
For this reason, Gen X (generally born between 1965 and 1980) is the most difficult generation to target association marketing, causing it to be often overlooked. Little did we know, Gen X has the most buying power in the world and is not much smaller a group than the growing Millennial workforce in Canada. Long story short, Gen Z is not a market that should be overlooked in your association marketing. We will analyze why and how to reach them best in this article.
Gen X: All the Same, but Somehow Different.
Gen X is complicated. Generally born between 1965 and 1980, this generation is essentially smushed between two obvious generations with widely appropriated “stereotypical” characteristics: The Baby Boomers and the Millennials. This means that Gen X tendencies and preferences vary depending on when they were born within their generation, gravitating towards the habits of the generation closest to them in time.
Younger Gen Xers feel more connected to the Millennials. They embrace technology, care about the environment and are more open to change. While older Gen Xers relate more closely to Baby Boomers, yearning for face-to-face connection and not fussing over the details. In the association world, marketing to and attracting these two types of people is very different and cannot be approached in the same way.
Since this generation doesn’t hold many overarching preferences, it is the most difficult generation for association marketers to target. What can associations do to pull them in as members and keep them interested? How do associations produce marketing materials that encourage Gen X event attendance? How do we create loyal and engaged Gen X association members and stakeholders?
Appealing to Gen X
Media in Canada describes Gen X as affluent, connected, and traditional. I could not think of a better way to put it, that’s exactly their demographic. Their tendencies and preferences will vary from person to person, but in general, this is great description of the generation.
Gen X affluent since they are either at or climbing towards the peak of their established career. Side note: Gen X is not one for switching careers, which speaks to another one of their values—security. This means that Gen X holds the most buying power in the world! In Canada, the majority of Gen X households generate over 100K in income annually and this is something to always keep in mind.
Gen Xers are connected since many of them have embraced technology and utilize social media every day. Over 90% of Gen Xers in Canada have a Smart Phone. They also lead the pack by a landslide with over two thirds owning a tablet. They are also the most likely generation to be sporting wearable technology such as FitBits and Apple Watches. And their communication preference tends to be email, with the younger crowd leaning towards needing less and less face-to-face interactions.
Most in Gen X have also embraced the world of social media; they are the largest groups on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest in Canada and are using Instagram and Facebook more and more every day. Like Millennials, Gen X – especially the younger ones – tend to gravitate towards the WHY and the cause to feel connected to it. Gen X is also very likely to do additional research after seeing an ad, so be sure that your association’s website, social media, and print marketing are all aligned and kept up to date because they’re looking for it. Read another Strauss article, Creating Web Content to Keep Members Engaged, to learn more.
Research shows that the majority of Gen X feel frustrated, overlooked and ignored by brands. And, again, with the buying power this generation possesses, associations should capitalize on their connectedness.
They are traditional because they value security and can be a little old school. BigCommerce states that most Gen Xers have families and established careers, so they need to know that they can count on your association to provide value and is a reliable source. With your association marketing, take into consideration that Gen X has experienced A LOT! They’ve seen the moon landing, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Y2K, 9/11, and are now experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic. Since there has been so much up and down across the world during their lifetime, they highly value security and steadiness.
Keep all of this in mind the next time you’re marketing to your Gen X association members. Always segment your email lists to create catered messages depending on the generation you’re targeting. For Gen X association marketing, try throwing it back to an old commercial that they can feel connected to. This generation will be loyal to an association that they believe in, trust and feel connected to. Keep in mind what they value and need from your association and you’ll be sure to connect with this generation.