Who Is Generation X? | Lydia Mehit

Many business owners think that EVERYONE is their customer, so they create a coupon, find a monthly delivery system (a coupon magazine or coupon mailer) and hope for the best. But understanding your target customer can give you insights into how to price, how to promote, how to utilize media and what special offers will appeal to them.

Is Generation X the most likely group of people to purchase your goods and services?

How would you know? Start with your current customers. What is the average age of the majority of your customers? Who typically makes the largest purchase during an average visit. Who are return customers?

If you are not in business yet, look at the neighborhoods where you are thinking of locating your business. What is the average age and income of the people in the immediate one mile radius. Check out the three mile radius also. If you have a retail business, the majority of your customers will be local to those areas.

If your answer is Generation X, have you made them the target of your marketing dollars? Do you know how to make your message resonate with them?

Let’s start with some facts. The term Generation X refers to those born from 1965 through 1976. That means they range in age from 34 to 45 in 2010. Observers of popular culture have known for a long time that, in a large part, people who were born at approximately the same time usually share a similar attitude toward life and leisure activities. They tend to dress alike, vote alike, live alike and shop alike. (Hmmm, they shop alike? That’s where you, the business owner, comes in.)

Generation X numbers 49 million strong and in 2009 represented 16% of the total population. They account for less than 30% of the nation’s workforce, they are equally divided between male and female, over 50% are married and living with their spouse and over 55% of them have at least one child under the age of 18 living at home. The majority of them own a home and they are more educated than any generation before them, with nearly 30% holding a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Over 50% of them have pets and nearly 20% of them are caring for aging parents more than 30 hours per week. They are more ethnically diverse than any generation before them, and they have a tolerance for differences and an acceptance of those from diverse backgrounds. They are not only comfortable with change, they embrace it.

They don’t have the same sense of loyalty to their employers as the baby boomers (1946-1964), showing themselves reluctant to sacrifice their family life for a job, consequently they have pushed for work-life balance in the workplace. They grew up in a time of change and their values and viewpoints were shaped by several significant social, cultural and historical events.

The oldest members of the group were pre-teens when the first test tube baby was born and the first mobile phone was developed, they were teenagers when MTV premiered and CNN was launched and they turned 21 the year the space shuttle Challenger exploded and IBM introduced the laptop computer.

Now that we have some background on them, let’s look at their shopping habits. Compared to previous generations they are; accustomed to inexpensive imported goods and less averse to buying them, are more pessimistic about their financial futures and are suspicious of “slick” conventional marketing approaches.

They are more likely to swipe a credit or debit card at the gas pumps than baby boomers, and are less brand loyal. When is comes to shopping for fashion items, the women are motivated by price and 34% report shopping at discount stores such as Target, Wal-Mart and Kmart. They spend more money eating out than the national average and as a group prefer beer over wine.
Although they make fewer shopping trips, they spend more dollars per trip than previous generations. They favor mass merchandisers and supercenters over more traditional formats like grocery or drug stores.

The categories where Gen Xers spend more than the national average: Apparel for children under 2, personal services, apparel for boys and girls 2-15, household operations, cars and trucks, furniture, housing and major appliances.

They spend less than the national average on: prescription and non-prescription drugs, health care, life insurance, medical supplies, apparel for women 16 and over, education, personal care products and nonalcholic beverages.

Wow, that was a lot of information. But, how do you sort through it and apply it to your business. Part 2 will show how to take the information and start planning your marketing tactics.

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