San Bruno, CA—A recent survey commissioned by Google brings out powerful insights into the YouTube habits of a key demographic for many pharma brands: Generation X. Current estimates point to 1.5 billion YouTube views from this demographic each day. In case anyone needs a refresher on just who Gen X is, here’s the search giant’s own definition: “the generation born after that of the baby boomers (roughly from the early 1960s to late 1970s), often perceived to be disaffected and directionless.”

While that latter portion may feel uncharitable at best, some of the survey’s stats seem to support that conclusion: 75% of Gen Xers are turning to YouTube just to scratch a nostalgic itch by watching content relating to past events or people. The top hits in this category include music videos, pop culture clips and commercials from a bygone era. Justine Bloome, the head of strategy and innovation at Carat, suggests, “I don’t think that Gen Xers are any more nostalgic than previous generations. However, their ability to tangibly access their nostalgia—and our ability to observe that behavior through data—has changed. For example, with a number of entertainment and celebrity icons from the ’80s and ’90s passing on in 2016, I am sure YouTube saw huge spikes in Gen X searches for Prince, David Bowie, George Michael, and others. Part of me also wonders if this is how Gen Xers share these memories with their children—allowing them to experience it firsthand, rather than just hear their parents recount the story.”

Fortunately, other key data from the survey cast Gen X in a better light: 68% are using YouTube to stay on top of news and current culture. These uses fell into 2 primary buckets: understanding and relating to their children and staying on top of everything going on in the world.

A third theme that emerged from the research showed that 73% of Gen X users are turning to the site to learn how to do something new. The top 5 DIY categories they’re searching are:

  • Home Improvement/Repair
  • Cooking
  • Tech Use/Repair
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Beauty & Personal Care


Why This Matters—


Gen X is a key target audience for countless pharma brands. Chronic diseases including MS, diabetes and high blood pressure affect hundreds of millions in this age group, plus many in this generation are both parents and caregivers for their aging parents. By understanding how Gen Xers are using YouTube, savvy pharma marketers can engage them more effectively. This new data can help brands appeal to a hunger for nostalgia, a thirst for information and a desire to learn how to do something new.

About the Author:

Drew Beck has spent his entire career in healthcare — from direct patient care as an EMT in college to countless roles in pharma sales and global marketing for leading life science companies including Eli Lilly & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline. He is currently a leader on the Syneos Health Insights & Innovation team, a group charged with leveraging deep expertise in virtual collaboration, behavioral science, trends-based-innovation, custom research and global marketing insights.