by Molly Mason, Chief Business Officer
At nearly every conference I’ve attended in the past five years there seems to be one pervasive marketing question: How do we reach the Baby Boomers and the Millennials?
Being neither of those demographics, I have often wondered why my generation, Generation X, is always dismissed. After all, we are not that much smaller than the other generations. As of 2017 there were about 65.7 million people in Generation X, as compared to 71.8 million Millennials and 73.4 million Baby Boomers.
We might be a little small in size, but Generation X wields substantial purchasing power. We make 31 percent of the total income earned in the U.S. even though we represent only 25 percent of the total population. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Generation X outspends every other generation in terms of annual household spending.
And yet, for some reason we are practically ignored by brands. The question is why? We’re a fun people. We’ve almost single handedly made 80’s and 90’s movie references THE best quotes in every situation, television show, and Facebook meme you have ever seen.
We’ve started new industries like craft brewing, protein bars, and CrossFit. Despite being dubbed as the “slacker” generation, we are getting things done in the workplace, leading organizations and communities through both difficult and prosperous times.
My forgotten generation had the privilege and blessing of having the last muddy, hands-on childhood. Our teenage years were filled with nearly extinct technology like tape-eating VCRs, Walkmans, and Mario Bros. video games.
So why have marketers largely overlooked Generation X? I think, in part, it is because they are not sure how to reach us. We are a group of cynical, independent thinkers who are instinctively distrustful of institutions and authority figures.
As latch-key kids growing up in front of the television, we were bombarded by advertising. Now, as adults, we generally turn away as soon as anyone tries to sell to us anything. Just like most of the characters in a John Hughes movie, we act aloof and yet secretly hope that you’ll notice us.
As Rich Cohen said in a Vanity Fair article, Generation X quietly holds the key to sanity, common sense, and irony. “It’s become clear to me that if this nation has any chance of survival, of carrying its traditions deep into the 21st century, it will in no small part depend on members of my generation, Generation X, the last Americans schooled in the old manner, the last Americans that know how to fold a newspaper, take a joke, and listen to a dirty story without losing their minds.”
Generation X is fiercely loyal to our favorite brands – more so than the Baby Boomers or Millennials. With a little creative effort, one of the brands that receives our loyalty and our dollars could be yours.