Generation X: Invisible at 37?

xennial_1(1)By Nadia Beale
Senior Vice President, Consumer

Believe it or not, there are six living generations in Canada right now, each with its own set of values, attitudes and roles. But if you were to only look at the focus of many marketing professionals, you’d never know it.

That’s because Millennials aren’t just the hot topic of conversation among Canadian marketers, sometimes, they seem to be the only topic of conversation. It seems that many brands are tripping over themselves to reach Millennials, pushing all the other generations out of sight and out of mind.

And before Millennials were the supreme focus for brands, it was all about the Baby Boomers, who commanded the lion’s share of the purchasing power for much of the last century, and who still garner much of the offline media attention from brands.

So where does that leave the members of Generation X, who definitely have reason to be on the minds of marketers?

Think about it: roughly 7.2 million Canadians fall into the Gen X demographic (loosely described as those aged 37 to 50), and even though Gen X is often considered to be the oft-overlooked ‘middle child’ generation lost between the bigger and louder Baby Boomer and Millennial cohorts, it is a pretty powerful group.

Often described as self-sufficient, imaginative and resilient with disposable income to spare, given the opportunity, Gen X could prove to be an interesting and reliable source of revenue for many brands. So, why haven’t brands devoted much marketing thought to Gen Xers and why should they?

They’re small in number, and often cynical

Gen X came into this world at a time when birth rates were declining, between 1967 and 1980, and grew up when the divorce rate was at its peak, when most of them were barely into their teens. Careers were started at a time when pensions were disappearing, career opportunities were dwindling and the 1987 stock market crash ushered in the recession.

The result? A statistically small generation that was perceived to be cynical and angry at the world. But they grew up and came of age in a time where consumerism was at an all-time high. This helped make Gen X  a demo that doesn’t feel guilty about making purchases, and yet brands don’t seem to be spending much energy marketing to them.

Now, Gen X is in its peak earning years, and generally enjoy a higher household income than their Millennial counterparts. This alone makes them a really important target. With the average annual household income of Gen Xers being $102,000 compared to $71,000 for Millennials and $98,000 for Baby Boomers, Gen Xers have cash to burn.

They consume all types of content…

Gen Xers are the last generation to grow up without the Internet, and they then learned to adapt to digital technology in their early adulthood, meaning that they are one of the only generational cohorts that have experience a variety of content mediums – newspaper, magazines, mobile, social media. This provides marketers with a unique opportunity to use a multi-pronged approach to reach Gen X through a number of platforms.

…But brands haven’t figured out how to best reach them

The diverse media consumption habits of Gen Xers tend to leave brands confused about which platforms they should use to reach this generation. Brands know that Millennials spend most of their lives on digital media and Baby Boomers are largely offline, meanwhile Gen X is somewhere in between, making targeting a complicated decision. Gen X is often stuck in the middle between being too young and being too old, where everything seems to be in constant limbo.

The end result? Although they’re often lower on the marketing priority list than their parents and children, Gen Xers are a powerful segment for brands to target. It may not be easy to tap into and target this group, but like it or not, Gen X  has more purchasing power than its generational peers.

Ultimately, demographics are a powerful resource for brands today, and the more brands get to know and understand the Canadian population, the better tailored the marketing strategy will be, ultimately resulting in stronger brand influence.

Marketing relevance doesn’t have to end at 37. Gen X might just be waiting for your brand.


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