Boomers and Ys and Zs, oh my!

Marketing research focuses on the most populated generations: Baby Boomers and Millennials, or even trendier Gen Z. What about “The Forgotten Generation”? Its self-explanatory nickname qualifies Gen X’s interest to marketers. Gen X includes people born between 1961 and 1979. They are known to be the smallest generation demographically-speaking. Merely based on this characteristic, marketers have chosen to ignore this generation when marketing products, and solely dedicate their efforts on Millennials. This is an oversight. Gen X members have many qualities that makes them an alluring customer.

Before tackling this generation as a consumer, researchers must understand what this age group values as a whole. One of the most important characteristics is that they fend for themselves, they are the first latch-key kids, and came before the time of overprotective parents. Gen Xers value balance in their lives when it comes to work and life, they respect entrepreneurship, they hold education to a high standard, they cherish their independence, they challenge authority, and they are overall a skeptical and cynical group. Modes of communication have drastically changed, and with them, people’s reflex. Baby Boomers would say “Give me a call.”, Millennials would say “Message me”, and Gen Xers would say “email me”. Beyond their modes of communication are their ways of communication. Gen Xers are defined as straight shooters, they like short and sweet messages that get to the point. They are busy workaholics who do not have time to dance around their ultimate goal.

First and foremost, Gen X controls more than 30% of purchasing power. Indeed, this small generation made its fortune before the 2008 market crash. Furthermore, this generation is much more entrepreneurial than previous generations, and than Millennials. As the “richest” generation to date, Gen Xers also spend on average 11% more than Baby Boomers, and 33% more than Millennials. Their childhood occurred during the Great Thirties, the glory days. Growing up during this economic growth and improved living conditions resulted in Gen Xers having certain standing of living and spending. The “work hard play hard” generation replicate their childhood in terms of consumer habits.

Secondly, this generation is the perfect blend between old-school and new in terms of how they shop. They did not grow up with online shopping, hence still enjoy going in-store to shop, and can be targeted through “traditional” mediums of communication like TV billboard, and magazines. Nevertheless, they also adapted to online shopping and social media. They are highly targetable through different mediums. They have a healthier relationship to the digital world because they were exposed to it as adults. They also do not feel entitled as much as Millennials do. Indeed, Gen Xers rarely use digital platforms go give opinions and spread their anger about a specific subject. In other words, marketers run less risks of public backlash with this generation.

Thirdly, they are the most influential generation. Indeed, they are supporting both children and parents at the same time. Traditionalists (born 1900 to 1945) are living longer than any generation before them, and Millennials (born 1977 to 1994) and Gen Z (born 1995 to 2010) are having a hard time entering the workforce and sustaining themselves. These two factors render Gen Xers the sole financial decision makers for both these generations. They are a powerful generation. Furthermore, Millennials look up to their generation as they do not challenge authority as much as Gen X. Hence, by targeting Gen Xers marketers can still be touching Millennials.

Fourth of all, Gen X’s behavior towards trends and brands is stable and constant compared to other generations, especially Millennials. Millennials are drawn to rapid trend waves, popular movements that come and go. On the other hand, Gen X do not base their consumption on trends, they value consistency. They also value customer service. They are the most loyal consumers because they value good service and recognition for their loyalty.

Finally, 54% of Gen Xers are frustrated that brands ignore them. As a result of their smaller demographic brands continuously overlook Gen X. This makes the competition for their attention is significantly reduced, especially in comparison to their juniors: Millennials.

In conclusion, targeting this generation is not necessarily the right move for all brands. Naturally, this depends on the product or service at hand and thorough research into who the personae at hand is. However, too many brands overlook this generation and miss out on the opportunity to grow their customer base, and increase their brand loyalty. The “Forgotten Generation” has a lot of qualities that makes it an ideal target consumer.

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