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Reaching Generation X: Authenticity in Advertising

2 minute read | November 2012

Although a smaller population than Boomers and Millenials, Gen X’s tendency toward affluence, technological savvy and brand loyalty make them unique characters in the marketplace. Generation X’s buying potential makes this demographic of consumers aged 35 to 54 a must-know for marketers.

So what makes Gen Xers tick when it comes to TV advertising? New research from Nielsen shows that both men and women in this demo connect with everyday household and family activities. Unlike other demographics, such as Millenials, real-world situations and authenticity appeal most to consumers between 35-54.

While it comes as no surprise that Gen Xers’ preferences show a stark contrast with Millenials, the nuances between males and females in this age demo are more subtle than males and females ages 13-34. Both Gen X men and women prefer a calm, safe approach in advertising, while Generation Y prefers high-energy, extreme scenarios.

Though more subtle, gender nuances still exist within Generation X. Ads can connect with Gen X’s women by using sentimental milestone events, like a daughter getting her driver’s license, or a son’s wedding, to create an emotional appeal. A more direct approach can be utilized to relate to men in this segment, using cars and sports to appeal to their masculine sensibilities. Appealing to the desire for authenticity, imagery featuring realistic events that may occur or have occurred in the lives of Gen Xers is likely to resonate. This differs from younger audience’s desire for aspirational, “I wish that were me” scenarios.

“Generation X is uniquely positioned. They know what they want and what they like and most importantly who they are,” says Joe Stagaman, EVP, Advertising Effectiveness Analytics for Nielsen. “Recognizing this creates an opportunity for marketers to appeal to this population with a genuine and realistic campaign that Gen Xers can identify with.”


As the leading provider of in-depth analysis and advertising effectiveness insights, Nielsen provides comprehensive insight into a commercial’s ability to be remembered and resonate with consumers. Nielsen TV Brand Effect measures the impact of commercials by surveying viewers exposed to the ad on TV.

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