How to Advertise to Millennials and Gen X: Best Practices for Your Digital Strategy

09.05.2023 Sara Brasfield4 min

There’s a reason why generational marketing endures as an audience targeting strategy across all industries. Despite all of the diversity that exists within a single generation, each of these groups is shaped by technology innovations, economic events, and other formative, collective experiences.

These resulting characteristics have a significant impact on how each generation behaves as consumers. Baby boomers, for example, enjoy strong purchasing power and love both loyalty programs and promotional discounts. Gen Z, on the other hand, is wary of debt and responds better to social influencer marketing than traditional ad strategies.

In between these consumer groups is Gen X and the Millennials. Given their age and purchasing power, these two generations are a top priority for many businesses, and may represent your brand’s core consumer base. Given the different characteristics of these generations, though, your most effective approach to marketing to Millennials and Gen X is to create separate, distinct campaigns that target these consumers through the right messaging and digital channels.

Looking to connect with these consumer groups? Here are some tips to inform your strategy.

Characteristics of Gen X Consumers

Born between 1965 and 1980, Gen X is actually the smallest of all current generations. Given their seniority in the workforce and their ongoing juggling act of affording child care, elderly care for their parents and saving for their own retirement, though, these consumers are also integral to the country’s overall economic health.

Despite growing up in an era before the internet went mainstream, Gen X is tech-savvy and active on social media. More than 75 percent of Gen X is on social media, in fact, with the highest rate of adoption on more established platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Gen Xers also tune in to cable TV at a higher rate than younger generations, although they’re avid streaming subscribers and are more likely to stack streaming subscriptions on top of cable TV services.

How to Market to Gen X

Ready to reach a Gen X audience? Consider these tactics:

  • Use addressable TV advertising to connect with local Gen X consumers. Given Gen X’s steady cable TV viewership, addressable advertising can help local businesses deliver ads directly to local Gen Xers.
  • Leverage audience targeting tools on social media. Demographic filtering can be combined with behavioral and location data to define and target a relevant consumer segment within a larger Gen X audience.
  • Offer discounts and loyalty programs to appeal to Gen X spending habits. As a financially conscious generation, discounts, coupons and loyalty programs remain highly influential with Gen Xers. Tap into their desire to save money, and explore ways to leverage this behavior to strengthen brand loyalty.
  • Leverage nostalgia whenever possible. Gen X remembers the days when phones came with cords and music videos were all the rage. Any opportunity to tap into this nostalgia for the past could be an effortless source for audience engagement.

Characteristics of Millennials

Millennials are generally defined as anyone born between 1981 and 1996, and the most defining feature of this generation is its tech fluency. Many Millennials grew up with the internet and have had smartphones for most of their adult lives. This connected upbringing may have also contributed to another key Millennial trend: this consumer group tends to care about environmental and social issues, and seeks out brands that share the same values.

Similar to Gen Xers, advertising to Millennials is best approached through a multi-channel approach, leveraging cable TV, streaming, mobile and other channels. Like the younger Gen Z audience, Millennial marketing can make effective use of influencer marketing, but brand values should be more prominent in your advertising and marketing creative.

How to Market to Millennials

Here are some tactics we recommend when planning a Millennial marketing strategy:

  • Plan campaigns across multiple channels. While older generations may skew heavily toward traditional ad channels, and younger generations may spend most of their time on mobile, Millennials are more agile consumers: they can be reached across cable TV and streaming, desktop search and mobile display, and other traditional and digital channels.
  • Harness the power of user-generated content. Whether from influencers or other consumers, user-generated content is a form of brand engagement on its own—but this content can also lend a sense of authenticity to your brand.
  • Invest in a strong brand experience. Millennials value online reviews as a way to evaluate brands. By cultivating a strong brand experience, you can motivate positive reviews that will build your brand’s reputation and increase your Millennial conversion opportunities.

Successful advertising starts with knowing your audience. By identifying these key Gen X and Millennial generation characteristics, your business can then pinpoint the data points and messaging that will elevate campaign performance and deliver more value for your business.

Cox Media’s experts can help you convert these audience insights into the foundation for a digital ad strategy that delivers results and ROI. Contact us today to find out how.

About the Author

Sara Brasfield

Sara is a Marketing Manager on Cox Media’s corporate team in Atlanta, with a passion for writing and delivering relevant insights for advertisers. With more than nine years of experience in B2B marketing, Sara aims to help Cox Media’s current and future clients connect with their customers find new and unique ways to grow their business. Outside of the office, Sara loves spending time running, reading, and supporting her favorite sports teams (Go Braves & Gamecocks!).

View All of Sara Brasfield's Blog Posts

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