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Should marketers care about Generation X?

Yahoo and the Canadian Marketing Association will be hosting a webinar on June 16 called “Talking Gen X: Considering the forgotten generation”, which will focus on the media shy generation born between 1961 and 1976.
The attention of marketers appears to have skipped a generation, moving straight from the affluent and mostly retired Baby Boomers directly to Millennials, who are social media savvy, of working age, and comfortable with being marketed to in a way that Generation X never was.
Born early enough to remember what life was like before the internet, but not yet fully old enough to stop attending the punk rock concerts of their youth, Generation X has long been a demographic that most marketers would consider bullet proof.
Self-awareness, sarcasm and mockery of established media forms became the calling cards of Generation X, producing The Simpsons, the Kids in the Hall and the David Letterman Show.
Part of the reason for the inscrutability of Generation X is that there aren’t very many of them.
The Boomers got their nickname for a reason: after the Second World War, a lot of men returned home from the front almost simultaneously and voilà, Baby Boom, mating as if each day might be their last.
The children of that union, the Boomers, by contrast, lived sedentary lives, preferring newly created suburbs to cities and only churning out one or two children per family.
Generation X is the direct result of the dawn of birth control.
They themselves, though, taking a cue from the “No Future” ethos embedded in their music, had loads of kids, who went on to become the Millennials, now a highly coveted and extensively studied marketing demographic.
And yet, despite the fact that Generation X is easy to forget about, sandwiched as they are in between the two numerically much larger generations, Gen Xers have higher household incomes than either Millennials or Boomers, one in three of them have investments (excluding their primary residence) worth more than $100,000, and a full 70% of them are homeowners.
Being middle-aged, Gen Xers are now in positions of power.
Unlike Millennials, they have stable work lives, with 87% of them not having changed jobs recently, although 80% of them say they value a work-life balance that seemed foreign to the previous generation.
57% of them say that they’re health conscious, perhaps owing to their middle age and the fact that 20% of them have experienced a health-related “wake-up call” in the past three years.
Perhaps crucially, Generation X was the last generation to play outdoors unsupervised, a not-unimportant detail that may explain why they value self-sufficiency and imagination over outside validation and the social imperative to please others.
In the past month, over 90% of Gen Xers researched products online, with the top product categories being travel, clothing/apparel and electronics.
They regularly consume over seven different categories of digital content, with weather, news and music being in the top three.
99% of Gen Xers use some form of social media and 86% of them use a smartphone, with 91% of that number using it daily.
A few years ago at an SAP conference in Toronto called “Conversations on the Future of Business”, VP and Chief Learning Officer at SuccessFactors, Karie Willyerd, jokingly referred to Generation X as “the Prince Charles generation,” asking her fellow panelists “Will they ever get to be king?”
Leading the Yahoo/Canadian Marketing Association “Talking Gen X” webinar will be Senior Analyst on the Yahoo Research and Insights team supporting Canada, Shannon Kelley.

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