Gen X: Affluent, connected and traditional

They love tablets, still watch traditional TV and are often eager to try new tech, according to a new MTM report.
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It’s not often brands debut big campaigns and declare with pride that they’re zeroing in on Generation X.

Gen X, the group widely accepted as people age 37 to 52 and who came of age in the 1980s, aren’t as much a focus for marketers as Millennials, or, it seems, Boomers. But a new study by the Media Technology Monitor (MTM) shows that it may become harder to ignore the group.

Studying more than 4,000 Anglophone Gen Xers in Canada, the MTM observed trends in the demographic’s profile, media consumption and tech preferences.

Gen X makes up more than one-quarter of the Canadian population (26%), which makes it the second-smallest of the major generations observed in Canada (Millennials sit at 33%, Boomers at 34% and Seniors at 8%). But it’s still a generation with plenty of purchasing power.

Gen X are more likely to have household incomes higher than $100,000 per year. Nearly one-fifth (19%) of Gen X respondents pull in between $150,000 and $200,000 per anum, compared to 13% of younger Canadians and 10% of older Canadians; 10% pull in $150,000 to $200,000, compared to 6% of younger and 5% of older Canadians. For incomes of $200,000 or more per year, Gen X is tied with younger Canadians at 6%, while 4% of older Canadians are in this bracket. They’re also more likely to have graduated from university.

Also, nearly one quarter (23%) of Gen X respondents reported not being born in Canada (although most reported immigrating 10 or more years ago). That’s higher than older and younger groups, both at 19%.

Gen X and their devices

The high earning power of Gen X allows them to be more experimental with technology and put their money into a wider variety of devices. Although Gen X are behind younger Canadians in smartphone penetration (90% own one, as opposed to 94% of younger Canadians), but they lead the pack for tablets – by a wide margin. Two-thirds of Gen Xers report owning tablets, compared to 56% of younger Canadians and 54% of older Canadians. Among those who do own smartphones, the more expensive iPhone is most popular (and in fact, the iPhone tracks higher with Gen X smartphone users than younger users).

Although the popularity of desktop seems to be waning, that’s not coming from the Millennial generation: 84% of them own laptops versus 80% for Gen X.

Gen X, however, is most likely to own wearable tech (31%, compared to 28% of younger Canadians and 17% of older). In particular, they’re invested in the FitBit, which 21% of Gen Xers own. And, at 6% penetration, they’re also twice as likely as younger Canadians to own an Apple watch.

Although Millennials have tried VR at a higher rate than Gen X, owning the devices is a whole other story. One-tenth of Gen X respondents own a VR headset, compared to 6% of younger Canadians and just 1% of older Canadians.

What is Gen X watching?

Seventy-one percent of Gen Xers subscribe to traditional TV, compared to 53% of younger Canadians and 86% of older Canadians.

Gen X are also most likely to be cord-cutters (62%, compared to 44% of younger and 53% of older). However, Gen X are least likely to be “cord-nevers” (21%, compared to 35% of younger and 24% of older groups).

Seventy-two percent of Gen Xers have an SVOD subscription (compared to 81% of younger Canadians and 48% of older Canadians) and still spend more hours per week watching traditional TV (8.7 hours) than online TV (four hours).

They’re prolific radio listeners (90%, versus 89% of older and 82% of younger) and lag behind younger Canadians for music streaming subscriptions (38% versus 59%).

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