Generation X: What Makes This Awesome Generation Different and Valuable

Image of hands holding up letters that spell Gen X to represent Generation X customers

Generation X: What Makes This Awesome Generation Different and Valuable

With all the talk of Gen Z vs Boomers or the differences between Gen Z and Millennials, it’s important not to forget the most awesome Generation – Generation X. They have significant buying power and might be the core customer base of a brand. As such, it’s important to understand the buying behavior of this generation and how to reach them. In this blog post, we will discuss what makes Generation X customers different and why they are so important for businesses (with a musical soundtrack to guide the way to the MTV generation!).

“Don’t You Forget About Me” – Simple Minds (and from iconic movie “The Breakfast Club”)

Don’t You Forget About Me -What Makes Generation X Customers Different

Generation X, also known as the “Xers”, is most often defined as people born between 1965 and 1980. As children and young adults this generation saw the fall of the Berlin Wall, the rise of the personal computer, the Challenger disaster, the Gulf War, cable TV, video games, 9/11, gay marriage, election of the first black President among other historic shifts. These events had a lasting impact on Generation X, shaping their views and opening them to technology and innovation.

Generation X has been labeled as the “forgotten generation” because they fly under the radar in comparison to both Baby Boomers and Millennials, especially in media coverage.  But even though Boomers are known for taking the money and Millennials the credit, the truth is Gen X makes a sizable impact

Though they have some crossover with both of these generations – a bit of tradition, a lot of tech – Xers have their own language and history. These latchkey kids-turned-adults tend to be independent, resourceful, and self-reliant. Not fans of micromanagement they often operate autonomously. They prefer a hands-on approach and are more likely to trust their own judgment than to rely on advice from outside sources.

“Freedom! ’90” – George Michael

Freedom – Generation X Values and Preferences

Gen Xers like options. They love nostalgia but adapt easily to new technologies. Healthy foods are mixed with childhood comfort foods in their diet. They work hard and play hard (work/life balance is their thing).

This DIY generation tends to be more cautious with money than Millennials, preferring to save rather than spend on impulse purchases. They also value quality over quantity when it comes to goods and services, so they are willing to pay more for something if they know it will last longer or provide better performance. 

They often use online reviews to make decisions, which means businesses must ensure they have excellent customer service and feedback management. Furthermore, Generation X customers often prefer to shop locally, so brick-and-mortar stores should be focused on creating a great shopping experience for this generation if they want to connect with them.

“It’s Tricky” – Run DMC

It’s Tricky – Where to Reach Generation X Consumers

Gen X is busy. They’re taking care of their children and sometimes their parents too. They lean toward ready made foods and other ways to save time.

As a generation that lived through a blend of both the traditional and technological, Gen X tends to resonate with a mix of both. Online, they’re predominantly on Youtube and Facebook. But they still use catalogs and see regular ads on TV. 

When it comes to communication styles, the numbers depend on who you ask. Edison Mail’s 2022 State of Communications study found text to be Gen X’s most used form of communication overall at 80% – more than any other generational segment.

For customer service, Hubspot data found that the phone is still #1 for Gen X (46%) with email close behind (40%). But other Gen Xers say that like Gen Z, they don’t want to talk either.  Email and text are the best and phone is a last resort. Remember, this is a generation used to adapting. They’ll call if they have to. The key for a brand is having a QA process that helps track data to know what their Gen Xer consumers want. Automated tools like CSAT.AI exist to support this process. 

Land’s End is a great example of pivoting based on data. When they saw their Boomer customers falling off they initially tried to court Millennials and Gen Z. That method crashed and burned, but through it they discovered their real foundational customer base is Gen X. 

“Come As You Are” – Nirvana

Come As You Are – Engage with Generation X Consumers

Don’t BS Gen X. Millennials have learned this.  This highly independent generation had to do many things themselves at an early age, alongside competing for prizes rather than getting one just for showing up. They don’t have time for blurry messages or fakeness. Gen X prefers direct, concise communication.

Generation X is more likely to be loyal to brands than any other generation. However, the brands need to meet their values. Their love of nostalgia is a biggie, but much like the generations that followed them, Gen X has environmental and other concerns. 

They favor small businesses and buying locally. Trusting a business with their data is a major factor. According to Hubspot data 81% are more likely to purchase from a company that treats their workers well.  Diversity, inclusion, racial justice and gender equality also factor into many of their purchasing decisions. 

Brands benefit from transparent, authentic and realistic presentation when connecting with Gen X. 

Gen X is set to outnumber Boomers by 2028 and already make up 62% worldwide business leaders. To connect with this customer segment  businesses need to take a page from their book and be adaptable too, learning the preferences, values and habits that make them different. 

Extra Credit

Test your knowledge of Gen X culture with the trivia podcast game show Who Will Save Generation X! It’s a rad time.

If you’re interested in more totally tubular and awesome Gen X music check out this: