A Multi-Generational View of Car Buying Behavior: Gen X

A Multi-Generational View of Car Buying Behavior: Gen X

Part II: Generation X Forgotten, But Smarter Than You Think

In this five-part series, we will be looking at the shopping trends of the generations that have the highest buying power: Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z. By understanding how they shop, you’ll be able to generate a marketing methodology that will set you above your competitors and bring in the big bucks.

Generation X is often referred to as “the latch-key kids.” They make up only 25% of the population but hold 31% of total income dollars, which means that their buying power has significant weight. Born between the years 1965-1980, these are the folks who are still raising children and helping them through college. Sadly, many marketers forget about this generation because they are smaller in number and it is assumed that they surf the web to find what they need. As a generation, though, they have their own unique characteristics.

In Between Snail Mail and E-mail

This is a generation that remembers learning to touch type on typewriters but was also young enough to learn DOS shortcuts when computers first became a household item. As the transitional generation between Baby Boomers and Millennials, the type of marketing they respond the best to is transparent and value-based. Rather than focusing on pricing or how cool a campaign might be, they want businesses to advertise their products in a clear-cut way. No gimmicks and no sales tricks.

Eye Candy

With messages, several reports have found that Gen X prefers tailored e-mails and digital videos. An email that describes a service or product in a sincere way, or if a video tells a unique and honest story, chances are these people will be intrigued enough to visit your website. They are also mobile device friendly and use social media networks, but are less receptive on these platforms to traditional ads.


Much like their parents, this generation is brand-loyal and loves loyalty programs. While you can’t get a free vehicle after buying ten like at a coffee shop, they appreciate efforts by sales teams to gain their business. If you have a newsletter or blog site, these are the folks to pitch them to. Chances are, they will return to your car lot for their next purchase.

Safety, Families, and Me

As a generation that is often an after-thought, the products they purchase have three basic tenants. One: they want to take care of themselves, so they’re not going to buy a vehicle that looks like it’s falling apart. Two: they want to play it safe, meaning that they’re not going to make a purchase they can’t pay off. Three: they place great emphasis on their family’s wellbeing, so, it’s no surprise that child-safety lock systems were so popular in the 1990s.

How does this translate into a tangible marketing methodology? For one, the wording and images of your digital campaigns need to reflect a more honest approach. Videos showcasing your inventory on social media channels and investing in distinctive cost-per-click (CPC) campaigns couldn’t hurt. We’ve already mentioned the most effective way to reach any population in your surrounding area in our piece about the Baby Boomers. That’s right: target this group geographically and behaviorally. Curious about how to do that exactly? The DealerLeads program generates a series of strategic campaigns that focuses on these types of details so that the traffic and first-generation leads you receive are of the highest quality. Fill out our form or give us a call and we’ll walk you through our approach.