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Gen X: Adaptable, Flexible & Reachable

In my last blog post, I wrote about Generation Y, also known as the Millenials. This post is going to provide insight into Generation X. However, since the dividing line between these two generations is so blurred, many of the characteristics are similar. Some experts have even gone as far as saying “Gen Y is just Gen X on steroids.” I found the below comparison chart in an article from Nike comparing Gen X and Gen Y.

Generation X Generation Y (Millennials)
Born 1965-1976 Born 1977-1989
51 million 75 million
Accept diversity Celebrate diversity
Pragmatic/Practical Optimistic/Realistic
Self-reliant/Individualistic Self-inventive/Individualistic
Reject the rules Rewrite the rules
Killer life Killer lifestyle
Mistrust institutions Irrelevance of institutions
PC Internet
Use technology Assume technology
Multitask Multitask fast
Latch-key kids Nurtured
Friends - not family Friends = family

Generation X (born between 1965 and 1976) currently has 51 million members. Due to divorce and working moms, many in this generation found themselves home alone after school until parents got home from work. This situation created traits in these members such as independence and resilience. Because of this, members of Gen X were labeled “latch-key kids.” Their experiences as latch-key kids made this generation dedicated to being good parents, which is one of the main reasons Gen Y is described as being nurtured. X-ers are the ones who started the journey toward a work/life balance. Following are a few of their preferences:

  • Flexibility - Being the first generation to grow up with both parents working, they have learned to be flexible and expect others to be flexible in return.
  • Innovation - This has created a generation whose financial success as a whole has been their entrepreneurial achievements.
  • Adaptability - Because of the layoffs witnessed in the 1980s, Gen X-ers distrust institutions and therefore maintain a well-nurtured portfolio of options and networks. They have developed strong survival skills and the ability to handle anything that comes their way.

These preferences make it slightly more difficult to market to Generation X. They are more cynical than the generations before them and will do research via the Internet to personally evaluate all of their choices before they make a purchasing decision. This often discourages brand loyalty. One way to get this generation’s attention is to convince them that other Gen X-ers are doing the same thing. This can help them feel like they have something to which they can belong or be connected. Contrary to conventional wisdom, research has shown that direct mail is potentially one of the best ways to reach this generation.

Now that Generation X has reached adulthood, they are making money, spending money, and have homes and children of their own, so it is increasingly important for marketers to pay attention to their needs and preferences.

Be sure and stayed tuned for my next generational marketing piece on Baby Boomers.

Filed Under: advertising

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