The slacker generation.
Labeled before society knew their impact, Generation X has spent a lifetime making big changes in every aspect of technology, society, and culture. For the furniture retailers, manufacturers, and designers, this demographic may seem to be “taken care of” as far as the acquisition strategy.
You couldn’t be more wrong.
What do you really know about the group of shoppers that makes up the Gen X population?
Before you can start crafting (or revising) your strategy to target the elusive Generation X shoppers, you need a little background.
What you need to know about Gen Xers.
They’re outnumbered by millennials, sure. But they’re still a formidable 66 million strong. Gen Xers are stuck in this ambiguous middle, sandwiched between the Boomer parents they’re now taking responsibility for and the Millennial children that came back after college. Luckily, our Xers have higher income households; however, for retailers, this phenomenon is a double-edged sword.
While Gen X men and women have higher income levels than the Millennial and Boomer generations, they’re also using that higher income to support the bookends to their generation.
Xers lived through the dotcom boom, the recession, and the rise of technology in a mass-produced way. They’ve led the way through many innovative tunnels and that’s brought invaluable experience as well as insurmountable debt.
Many have drawn parallels between the housing market and the furniture industry. Some of the trends suggest that an increase in homeownership directly results in an increase for new purchases in the home furnishings industry.
While many of these trends align, (e.g. buyers born in the 1950s want outdoor living and privacy; they are driving the repair/remodel boom, which is just as positive for the furniture industry as “new home” sales.), there is the undeniable fact that Gen X shoppers have been historically unwilling to spend more on home improvements.
According to a 2017 study by eMarketer, Xers view home improvements as an investment rather than an expenditure. Home ownership has been unstable for much of the generation due to the drastic rise and fall of the economy and housing market; therefore, the recoil is still leaving them trigger shy. Studies show that this faith in the market is improving and the slow-gaining stability will start to show in the numbers for the home furnishings industry.
So, how does all of this affect the online buying habits of the Generation X shoppers?
Gen Xers believe in research. They’ve been spending more time using the internet than any other age group, and average more than 8 hours per week of total internet usage on desktop or laptop computers. These internet users grew up with screens: from television to computers to mobile devices; however, they’re not likely to multitask with these different mediums.
Pro tip: Use your Google Analytics data to find out the time of day when these shoppers are coming to your website. If you’re using a PPC strategy, tailor your optimal times to match the screen-time of the Generation X shoppers at every stage of the buyer’s journey.
While most of the research and buying of Gen Xers happens on a desktop or laptop, don’t leave your mobile strategy behind. At the end of 2016, 82% of the generation’s population were smartphone users.
Make sure you’re operating a user-friendly AND mobile-friendly website. While Google may give you the green light for a mobile-friendly page, the user experience may be sorely lacking.
Pro tip: Incorporate a design with room for large buttons and call to actions. Decrease the number of large text blocks on your content and product pages unless they are easily accessible from an alternative menu or click method.
By nature, the Generation X shoppers are highly skeptical. Everything can and should be questioned. This also means they’re very sensitive to being “sold” on a product or service. Lucky for furniture retailers and manufacturers, social media accounts for most of the digital time by this generation. With more than 7 hours weekly spent on social media, the social shopping and researching methods can be a useful resource for your brand.
Use social media to show good faith to your Gen X visitors.
Pro tip: Show the value of your products or service. Social media is one of the most effective channels to promote your community-driven, quality-filled agenda. Your Xers are checking Facebook daily, according to eMarketer’s 2017 study. So, post engaging content and post it often to keep an engaged, loyal following.
Many digital strategies are focused solely on the Millennial generation. While they are an upcoming group of furniture shoppers, don’t leave out the most lucrative demographic in your 2017 plan.
Want to learn about the Millennial buying habits? Read from our blog post!