NEWS20 September 2023

Gen X ‘overlooked’ in social media campaigns

Asia Pacific Europe Latin America Middle East and Africa News North America Technology Trends UK

GLOBAL – The advertising industry is ‘overlooking’ Generation X – people currently aged 45 to 60 – in social media advertising, with 5% of brand spend on influencer marketing campaigns targeted at this demographic, according to research from WPP media agency Wavemaker.

woman using mobile

According to the study, the majority ( 92%) of Gen X surveyed use social media every day, but the majority of social brand spend is not targeted towards this group of people.

The definition of Gen X varies but it tends to include people born somewhere between the mid-1960s and mid-1980s, placing them between the Baby Boomer and millennial generations. The Wavemaker report defined Gen X as people aged between 45 and 60.

Wavemaker combined quantitative and qualitative data for the report, tested influencer marketing campaigns, analysed content from influencers and conduced cross-generational meta-analysis of purchase journey studies.

The research found that when influencer marketing is targeted towards people aged 45 to 60, it tends to perform less effectively than with Gen Z or millennials. Influencer campaign testing in UK and India found influencer campaigns targeted at Gen X had a 30% lower retention rate, 20% fewer interactions with the content and 47% lower impact on brand opinion.

Social media influencer content that featured influencers of around the same age ranked more highly for relevance and brand website visits than content featuring Gen Z influencers, the research found. Participants were also 20% more likely to report that the influencer was ‘the perfect fit’ if they were from the same age group.  

Additionally, meta-analysis of Wavemaker’s purchase journey database studies in Germany, US and Australia found a higher level of brand loyalty among people aged 45-60 than younger groups.

Zoe Bowen-Jones, senior insight director at Wavemaker said: “Gen X presents a huge opportunity for brands – they’re highly engaged, loyal and wealthy consumers – and shouldn’t be overlooked by advertisers.

“When it comes to engaging Gen X audiences, brands need to think long-term, long-form and community-based content to gain their trust, loyalty and ensure they feel represented.”

Stuart Bowden, global chief strategy officer at Wavemaker said: “This report shows us not only the differences that the ‘wealthiest generation the world has ever known’ have in social media usage but much more importantly how we can recognise and respond. It’s a great reminder to give our attention to the places and the people that can best help our clients grow.”


Wavemaker conducted qual with 60 participants from the UK, US and India, focusing on attitudes and behaviours around social media.

The researchers used GroupM’s syndicated Audience Origin survey data to gather audience insights of 67,000 people in the Gen-X category.

The report also tested influencer marketing campaigns, analysed content from influencers and conduced cross-generational meta-analysis of purchase journey studies in Germany, the US and Australia between 2019 and 2022.