In a time where any given employer could have four generations of people representing their workforce, marketers are also struggling to appeal to each generation with their marketing strategies. In this four-part series, we break down the characteristics of each generation — Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z — and discuss their values, buying habits and what not to say in your marketing.
This blog in the series will focus on marketing to Gen X.
Gen X was born between 1965 and 1980. The people of this generation are sometimes called “The Forgotten Generation” or America’s “middle child,” but they are part of a generation that is expected to outnumber Baby Boomers by 2028. Gen X grew up as latchkey kids (spending part of the day without adult supervision) and, as adults, they have experienced three recessions and a tech boom with everything from the internet to smartphones to social media.
Gen X is between ages 41 and 56 this year, and they have a lot to juggle at this stage of life: middle age, mid-career, and taking care of both children and aging parents.
Gen X’s life experiences, which include beginning careers during the dot-com boom and living through recessions, have made them risk-averse and cynical.
"They had their own brand of trauma, whether it be the recession or being latchkey kids who were left in front of the television or the fact that they were unable to get the kinds of jobs and career paths that their parents enjoyed because the economy had run out of steam," Larry Samuel, the founder of Age-Friendly Consulting, told Business Insider.
Even though Gen X was the hardest hit during the 2008 recession, it also recovered the best. The typical Gen X household earns more than any other generation, and it's a prime time for buying big-ticket items, like cars and houses. Gen X prefers to spend the most on consumer goods and services. This has led them to juggle more debt than any other generation, and therefore, unprepared for retirement.
Roughly 30% of America's wealth belonged to Gen X as of June 2021, according to Bloomberg. Because Gen X is in its prime earning years, the average Gen X household earns more than any other generational household does at $113,455.
But just because they have a lot of wealth, it doesn’t mean they spend it freely (remember the recessions they’ve lived through?).
Inclusivity in marketing goes beyond what a person looks like. You have to consider their whole identity, what they value and what influences their purchasing behaviors. Gen X is sandwiched between two of the biggest generations, which means they’re often glossed over in generational discussions. Be sure to include them in your marketing to get the best results. The things that resonate with Baby Boomers may not move the needle for Gen X.
Not sure how to navigate the generations that make up your buyer personas? Kuno Creative has a team of experts ready to help segment your audience and boost your bottom line.