Gen Xers Turn to Search for Product Research, Brand Discovery

March 15, 2021

GWI GenX Top Brand Discovery Channels Mar2021At a time when brand and product information can be found through an array of channels, Gen X consumers lean towards discovering and researching new brands through search. This is according to a report [download page] from GlobalWebIndex (GWI) which looked at the digital behaviors of Gen Xers.

The global survey of close to 60,000 Gen X (ages 38-56) internet users found that 36% of these consumers use search engines as a method to discover new brands. Search engines edged out ads seen on TV, used by 35% of respondents. And, as proof that word-of-mouth is still effective, one-third (32%) discover new brands through word-of-mouth recommendations.

Websites are also useful channels for discovery for Gen X, with 27% turning to brand/product websites and 26% consulting online retail websites to discover new brands.

When Gen X consumers are ready to research products, search engines also play a prominent role for 55% of respondents. Much like consumers of all ages who rely on consumer reviews for product information, 4 in 10 Gen Xers turn to these for product research. Others research products via brand/product websites (39%), social networks (38%) and price comparison websites (34%).

Finally, when it is time to make a purchase, more than half (54%) of Gen Xers say they are driven to make a purchase online if they are given free delivery, while 4 in 10 (41%) are enticed by coupons and discounts. An easy returns policy (34%), reviews from other customers (33%) and a quick/easy online checkout process (30%) were also cited as drivers for making a purchase online.

Gen X and Social Media

Although Millennials and Gen Z are known for their prolific social media use, Gen X aren’t immune to the lure of this channel. In fact, between 2015 and 2020, this age group increased their average daily use of social media by just short of a half-hour.

Much like Millennials, some of the main reasons Gen X use social media include staying up-to-date with news and current events (36%) and staying in touch with what their friends are doing (32%) as well as to research/find products to buy (28%).

When asked which platforms they had visited in the last month (Q3 2020, excluding China), the majority had spent time on YouTube (85%), Facebook (77%), WhatsApp (61%) and Instagram (57%). Only one-quarter say they had visited TikTok, but this is an increase over the 14% who said the same in Q3 2019.

Device Usage

Per the report, Gen X currently spend an average of 3 hours per day on mobile — that’s more than 50% more time than they spent on mobile in 2015 (1:52). Indeed, they are now more apt to perform tasks such as access, read or send email via mobile (55%) than they are on desktop (48%).

Not only that, but more Gen Xers are using mobile to make purchases online. In North America, Q3 data from 2019 found that 37% of Gen Xers said they had purchased a product online in the last month on mobile. One year later, that percentage had climbed to 46%.

Gen X ownership of PC/laptops has decreased (from 89% in 2015 to 66% in 2020) while, at the same time ownership of smart devices such as Smart TVs are on the rise (36% in 2015 to 43% in 2020).

The full report can be found here.

About the Data: Findings are based on a Q3 2020 survey of almost 60,000 Gen X (ages 38-56) internet users across 46 countries.

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