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Brand loyalty highest in Gen X consumers: eMarketer

Generation X’s high-earning period in their lives, especially high brand loyalty and affinity for nicer things, makes them an optimal target for luxury brands, according to a new study by eMarketer.

Gen X members were born between 1965 and 1976 and are currently ages 35-46. Generation Y and millennial consumers have grown up with technology and smartphones, but Gen X represents those consumers who remember a time without digital advertising and therefore respond equally to modern and traditional marketing.

“That’s the interesting thing – the similarity in profile and behavior with millennials,” said Noah Elkin, principal mobile analyst at eMarketer, New York. “Millennials have grown up with these technologies since birth and it’s an integral part of their lives, but it’s not the case with members of Gen X.

“I think that for luxury marketers, there is a greater concentration of affluents within Gen X because they have entered the prime earning potential of their careers,” he said.

Show and sell
Perhaps the most noteworthy fact about Gen X in the eMarketer study is their extreme brand loyalty, relative to that of millennials and baby boomers.

They have a high affinity for the brands they trust and are willing to pay a premium for their products, according to eMarketer.

However, they are less interested in trying new brands compared to younger consumers.

Approximately 70 percent of U.S. respondents and 30 percent from other English-speaking countries reported that brand loyalty was the highest in Gen X consumers.

More than four in 10 of those in this age group stick to brands they like, according to the study.

How brands connect to Gen X depends not only on the channel, but the message within the channel, per the study.

The eMarketer study demonstrated that because of technological advances during the time of Gen X members, these consumers are equally comfortable using both traditional and digital media channels.

While Gen X tunes into online channels for news, product information and entertainment, these individuals also use the radio, television and print at higher rates than those consumers just a few years younger than them, according to eMarketer.

For instance, three-quarters of these individuals watched their favorite shows on their television sets, but they also watch shows via online video and on-demand.

That said, 85 percent of Gen X members who use the Web still prefer to watch their favorite shows on TV.

X marks the spot
The eMarketer study showed that Gen X does spend the majority of its time on digital channels.

On average, Gen X members spend 37.4 hours per month online, according to a study by comScore.

The group spends more time than millennials on government Web sites and obtaining financial information, making them an easy target for luxury brands advertising on those sites.

Gen X Internet users’ top three activities include email, checking the news and weather, and banking transactions.

Luxury marketers that employ email marketing and online advertising on news and weather channels and banking sites are more likely to hit this target market of ready-to-buy consumers.

While 72.8 percent of affluent consumers use social networks, eMarketer expects this number to grow to 75.1 percent by 2015.

Also, more than six in 10 Facebook users ages 35-54 “liked” brands in April 2011, according to the study.

Gen X members are increasingly using mobile, too.

In fact, the average age of smartphone and tablet owners in May 2011 was 31 and approximately 42 percent of 35- to 44-year-old mobile users owned smartphones in Feb. 2011, according to eMarketer.

Both ecommerce and mobile commerce transactional activity for Gen X members is up.

“The challenging thing for a luxury brand is how to segment out certain populations,” Mr. Elkin said.

“The challenge is using digital media and social media where anyone can engage with you, but doing it in such a way not to alienate any of the audience groups even if they are on the target market, but are aspirational,” he said.

“Gen X wants to have a more authentic contact with the brand. It’s about getting things that are specially marketed to them.”

Final Take
Rachel Lamb, associate reporter on Luxury Daily, New York