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TV ads edge recommendations from friends and family as the top influencer of purchases for Gen Xers (born 1965-1981), according to MarketingCharts’ US Purchase Influencers Report 2018. In so doing, Gen Xers display more similarities with Boomers than with Millennials, who are more swayed by recommendations, per the report.

Overall, roughly 1 in 4 Gen Xers (24%) surveyed said that TV ads had influenced them to purchase a product or service within the prior 6 months, just ahead of the 22% who said that word-of-mouth had influenced a purchase.

TV ads’ purchase influence is likely a result of TV’s status as a top media activity and key advertising vehicle for this cohort. Watching TV emerged as the leading media activity for Gen Xers, with 8 in 10 doing so on a weekly basis. By comparison, only two-thirds of Millennials watch TV on a weekly basis.

Moreover, fully 61% of Gen Xers reported being exposed to multiple ads on TV daily, versus fewer than half (48%) of Millennials. Beyond TV, social media (41%) and the radio (40%) emerged as channels where many Gen Xers are frequently exposed to ads.

For whatever reason, though, Gen Xers feel that they notice advertisers on TV at a far greater rate than in any other media – likely explaining at least in part TV ads’ high purchase influence. More than one-third of Gen X media users (35%) said they remembered noticing a particular advertiser on TV in the prior week, about twice the share (18%) who said the same about the radio.

Millennials’ attention, by comparison, seems more attuned than others to digital video. Millennials were twice as likely as Gen Xers to say they’d noticed an advertiser in the prior week when watching a video online. That’s despite the fact that each generation reported similar rates of weekly digital video viewing.

That doesn’t mean that Millennials take the cake in all things digital, though. Instead, Gen Xers were the cohort most likely to use smartphones and tablets on a weekly basis, and the generation most likely to use social media. (Previous research has likewise found that Gen Xers are the heaviest social media users, and the most likely to use smartphones and tablets.)

More data can be found in the Purchase Influencers report, which covers 18 purchase influencers, 4 activities, and 6 demographic variables.

About the Data: The results are based on a May 2018 nationally representative survey of 2,237 US adults (18+) fielded by YouGov plc.

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