Gen X YouTubers Stuck in the Past, Finds Google
Gen X may seem like a forgotten generation between the two larger cohorts of Baby Boomers and Millennials, but it still has an outsized impact on media consumption and online behavior. Last year, Google found that Gen Xers viewed 1.5 billion (with a B!) videos a day on its YouTube subsidiary ... and 75 percent of them are watching videos related to nostalgia and the past.
This data comes from two places brought together in an article about Gen X YouTube viewing that appeared in last week's Think With Google. The total of Gen X YouTube views comes from November 2016 Pixability reporting, and the analysis of what Gen X is watching comes from a September 2016 study that Ipsos Connect and Flamingo did for Google.
They found three major types of videos Gen Xers are watching.
1. Videos Related to Past Events or People
Google found that 75 percent of Gen Xers on YouTube watch videos of past events or people, i.e. nostalgia videos.
What kind of nostalgia? According to the research, the top three types of videos watched were:
- Past music events or people
- Past entertainment and pop culture
- Past commercials
2. Videos to Stay on Top of News and Pop Culture
So, to be fair, although the largest number of Gen Xers watched videos about the past, 68 percent watch videos to keep up on current events. The top three topics there include:
- To stay in the know about their children's world
- To connect with their children
- Because they like to know everything going on in the world
3. Videos to Learn How to Do Something
DIY is as much on Gen X's minds as 90s commercials and what their kids are up to. 73 percent watch YouTube videos for DIY purposes, to learn how to do something for themselves.
Of those videos, the five most watched types are:
- Home repair and improvement
- Technology use and repair
- Arts and crafts
- Beauty and personal care
If you read the Think With Google article, you'll see that a lot of the analysis sort of pulls back to the center. According to it, Gen X isn't any more nostalgic than other generations, it's just that so many stars of yesterday passed in 2016 and they were looking up their works. The reason they're watching video to keep up on what's going on and teach themselves new things is because they were the first generation to learn technology and they taught it to themselves.
That's one way to see the trends. But I — and for the record, I'm part of Gen X myself, born in '77 — can't help but think these are videos about who they used to be, who their kids are today, and how to be who they want to be now.
And as for what that means for marketing, notice one of their (our) favorite kinds of nostalgia is for old ads.