BOULDER, CO - 10-05-2017 (Press Release Jet) --
In 1979, when the first of the population cohort designated “Generation X” was 14 years old, The Kids Are Alright, a rockumentary film about the English rock band The Who was released. A chronicle of musical might and bad behavior, the rocker movie ran along the same track that society would soon assign to those Gen X teenagers: undisciplined, alienated, overshadowed.
For The Who, the shadows were thrown by the Beatles and Stones; for the Gen Xers it was initially the Baby Boomers and then the Millennials who captured the spotlight. But thanks in part to a fascination with new technology – The Who with synthesizers, Generation X with early PCs and video games – both groups of alienated outcasts made it through. The kids were all right after all.
However, a recent offering from Boomer / neXt, Generation X: eXiles on Main Street? https://boomer-next.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Generation-X-eXiles-on-Main-Street-PDF-1002217.pdf finds the Xers never totally escaped the disparaging labels of their youth. Since they started turning 50 in 2015, they have been steadily dismissed by advertisers fixated on the 18-49 demographic. According to Marc Matthews, partner in Boomer / neXt and co-author of the study, “In their teens and twenties Gen Xers were tagged as slackers in the business of life, and today most mainstream brands treat them as slackers in the life of their businesses.”
Matthews notes that by the end of 2017 over 13 million members of Generation X, born 1965-1967, and in their peak earning years, will have crossed the 50+ threshold and, now officially considered to be part of the “aging population,” will disappear from Madison Avenue’s targeting radar. As a result, the white paper reports older Gen Xers become disconnected from everyday brands at the same time they enter the world’s 3rd largest, most vibrant economy. There are 110+ million Americans over 50 who control 80% of all U.S. household assets and purchase over half the country’s goods and services, but this population only has 10% of advertising dollars directed their way.
Outside the healthcare and wealthcare industries, youth-obsessed marketers and advertisers have little use for these high-spenders. According to Matthews, “because Adland and Marketville have very different demographic profiles - the average ad agency creative person is under thirty, but the median head of household is around fifty - it makes authentic brand engagement a real challenge.”
The Boomer / neXt analysis finds that disrespecting Gen X presents a growing threat to brand competitiveness in the near future because of this population’s rapidly increasing its influence in the 50+ American consumer space. In 2017, Baby Boomers outnumber Xers over fifty by 75 million to 13 million, but by 2030 these sibling generations will see nearly identical respective populations, at 61 million and 59 million.
The study also identified three entrenched myths stand in the way of changing brand decision-maker attitudes:
Generation X: eXiles on Main Street? includes data from an online survey of 510 consumers aged 50-71 that disproves the myth that Boomers and older Gen Xers are closed-minded about switching brands and trying new products. The survey found that the vast majority (86%) enjoy learning about and trying new brands and that over two-thirds (70%) are always on the lookout for new brands to try. http://www.boomer-next.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/survey-results-brands-and-advertising.pdf
Matthews advises clients to remember that while Gen Xers are still guided to some extent by their early lives, they are now mature adults entering their peak earning and peak power years. The key to brand engagement is to blend past, present and a fast-approaching future without falling into meritless stereotypes – whether these focus on latchkey or slacker clichés from the 1980s and 1990s or tall tales about sudden irrelevance due to turning 50.
Some key takeaways from the Generation X: eXiles on Main Street? report:
About Boomer / neXt
Boomer / neXt, with offices in Boulder and New York City, is a leading consultancy which focuses on the 111 million Americans who are currently 50 years of age and older. Boomer / neXt provides strategic planning, research-based insights and consultative services to clients in industries that want to understand and unleash the power of this population, which includes the totality of the Baby Boom generation. For more information on Boomer / neXt and its services, please connect via www.Boomer-next.com
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