GEN X: Ready to Spend, but Snubbed by Marketers

 In Standard

From time to time, I get on my soap box about an issue that needs attention or one that’s willfully neglected—like the state of Gen Xers. No, I don’t have issues with Gen Xers. I am a Gen Xer, and as a Xer, my issues are with brands and marketers who’ve ignored the entire generation for too long. I feel much ignored so I had to find out why this was happening.

To uncover why Gen Xers were being ignored, I embarked on my own internet journey, specifically via Google. After much reading, I stumbled on much information about Gen X and why marketers and brands thought it appropriate to ignore them.  Much of what I read was about the demographic being too small, disengaged and fragmented. After all, Gen X is the slacker generation.

But there’s a positive flip side. According to Pew Research, it was time for marketers to begin paying attention to Gen X. They are small, but mighty and in the prime spending time of their lives. In fact, many of them are both in executive positions within their companies and have a huge influence on families and home. This informed exactly what I was thinking and I set about to show that Gen X is a viable target for marketers.

It all began with a study of my own. My agency, Makovsky and I, launched a study to dig more deeply into Gen X, who they are, how much money they have to spend, and where and how are they spending it.

In our survey, “Gen X: The Money-to-Spend Generation,” fielded in April 2016, nearly all survey respondents (96%) reported having money left over after paying for necessities. How much? An average of $1,341 in disposable income each month. Nearly one-third of respondents (29%) reported more than $1,000 left over each month and 40% earned income exceeding $100,000.

In fact, Gen X, whose 65 million members will turn 36 to 51 years of age in 2016, has disproportionately more spending power than any other generation. They represent 25% of the U.S. population, but have 29% of estimated net-worth dollars and 31% of total-income dollars. Yet most marketing isn’t targeting them.

This was some really cool stuff that validated why Gen X have deserved more attention. Even though it’s a much smaller generation than both Millennials and Boomers, the money they have to spend is a lot more than those larger generations. I’m certainly not suggesting we abandon Boomers or even Millennials. I strongly believe Millennials are going to grow up, and go through life stages that make them a more attractive target than they are now.  But today, Gen Xers have the money to spend, and for that reason alone, they should get more attention.

What else matters to Gen X and how can marketers reach them?

For Gen X, it’s family first. This is the generation taking care of kids and their parents. Family is the most important part of Gen Xers’ lives (89%), according to the Makovsky survey. The majority of Gen Xers have immense responsibility; six in 10 reported that their families could not get by without their paychecks.

Gen X seeks brands that offer value, convenience and trust.  What resonates most for Gen X purchasers are “most value for the money” (83%), and “best or highest quality in the category” (74%).

Gen X struggles between saving and indulging. If they have some extra money at the end of the month, Gen Xers say they would balance it between spending and saving, according to the survey. An overwhelming majority love a bargain (90%). Nearly eight of 10 admit to spending a little extra to treat themselves once in a while (78%).

Marketing financial services is a harder sell than other areas for Gen X. Word-of-mouth came in as the number one attention-grabber and trust-builder for technology, health and financial services categories.

Email and Facebook are best communications channels. Preferring more personalized communication, Gen Xers were more attached to email than other communication, with 82% checking daily or more often.

This information was first presented on May 3 at the 2016 Global Marketing to Women Summit. I was excited about its reception and appreciated giving Gen X the much deserved attention. I changed some of their marketing minds that day, and hope I change some of yours with these facts about how powerful Gen X is, and how their spending power could make a profound impact on your bottom line.

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