Generation X is a term which is predominantly used to describe those aged between 36-51. In the broadest of definitions, it is individuals born between the mid 1960's and the early 1980's. It's a generation old enough to recall a time before the internet but also young enough to witness the rapid technological changes around them.

In that sense, it can be considered a 'transformational generation', sandwiched between two contrasting generations –Baby Boomers and Millennials. Ironically, many of those classified as Generation X are now juggling the delicate balance of caring for older parents and raising teenagers. Principally in their 40's, with a ton of responsibilities and stress to manage, it's a generation which appreciates the convenience which technology has enabled – none more so than online shopping.

With the online behaviour of Baby Boomers and Millennials widely publicised, OnBuy decided to put the spotlight on Generation X and consider their consumer shopping habits.

Generation X in Numbers

Generation X are busy balancing careers with a family alongside, signified by 46% having kids under 18 years old living at home. With time, limited and a desire to live life on the go, Generation X have been keen to embrace mobile phones and tablets as handy mediums for consumption. This is signified by the findings of Accenture Consulting, where 47% of those in Generation X stated they find it easy to make a purchase using a mobile phone.

In another report conducted by 'Salesforce Research', 25% of the UK's Generation X interestingly look for a product online via a mobile phone whilst in a store. Moreover, 15% admitted to making a purchase online from their mobile phone whilst shopping instore.

According to a report compiled by KPMG, most of Generation X look online for reviews and recommendations before making any online purchases at 56%. The next biggest avenue for Generation X to research online purchases was the actual retailer's website they intended to purchase from. Interestingly, 26% of Generation X visited physical stores to see/try/fit a product before making an online purchase. Only 20% of Generation X speak to friends or family before considering or committing to an online purchase.


The report also considered the top attributes which drives loyalty. 66% of Generation X citied 'excellent customer support' as the largest factor cementing their loyalty towards a certain brand/retailer/company. After customer support, was 'exclusive offers for members (47%)' and 'loyalty programmes (39%)'. In contrast, a brand that 'anticipates needs based on customer profile (16%)' was rated as the lowest quality to drive customer loyalty among Generation X.


With Generation X increasingly becoming connected and developing an appetite to share their experiences - leaving feedback is becoming a part of their DNA. Per the report, most of Generation X's (49%) preference was to leave feedback directly on the website of the retailer they purchased from. The website itself was closely followed by Facebook at 29%. Only 2% of Generation X choose to leave feedback on YouTube and Snapchat – this is perhaps in relation to these platforms being more in the radar of Millennials and Generation Z.


Generation X Perspectives

Craig (42) from Leicester said: "Growing up in a world where the internet was only at its inception, I would have never predicted the endless possibilities it now provides. It has completely transformed my life in terms of convenience. With work and kids occupying a lot of my time, I really like online shopping. I can browse products online and order at the click of a button. It's brilliant, as I don't even have to queue or waste money on parking, like you do with instore shopping".

Mary (48) from Newcastle said: "Even though I was initially sceptical of using technology to source what I needed, I soon saw the potential, so I now use my desktop, mobile phone and tablet to shop online pretty regularly. When I go in store to shop, it's become a habit to now check the online price of something I am interested in, to see if it is cheaper elsewhere or online or if competing retailers are offering something better on their website. Technology has totally changed the way I shop and engage with retailers – it's made everything accessible at the touch of button".

Lilly Jones a Retail Analyst from London commented: "I often label Generation X the 'lost generation'. Unfortunately for them, they are slotted in-between two generations which are talked about more - millennials and baby boomers. A lot of retails have spent a considerable amount of time and resources to understand the behaviours and preferences of these two generations; whilst leaving behind the needs of Generation X. Retailers must understand the needs of Generation X as they will continually drive online sales going into the future".