Hey, what happened to Generation X?
I’ve been reading a great deal of articles lately and every article – print, news, online – they are all about the Millennial generation.
Now, I have to admit, I am one of those writers. I spend a lot of time talking about how to connect to Millennials. But seriously, we have four generations in the market today, and yet I have read very few articles on Baby Boomers and not one on connecting with Generation X. What the hell happened to Generation X?
My very first business in 1991 was started because I was sick and tired of hearing how Gen Xers were a bunch of slackers. The media was crucifying us as loafers, slackers and no-good contributors to society. So I wanted to change the name to the HINGE generation, connecting the Boomers and Millennials. In the end, the effort wasn’t successful, but I learned a lot. I had created a magazine, funded by local advertising, and hoofed it around town dropping free “zines” off at local coffee houses and record stores. The business closed and I went on to work my ass off trying to change the world one design, one package at a time.
Let’s take a look at the generations for a minute. Boomers total about 80+ million people. Millennials are 82 million. Xers are about 44 million. People, there are 120+ million people (Boomers and Xers) that brands are forgetting to connect with and market to. Not to mention that those 120+ million people have money and disposable income. You can’t say that for the Millennials yet. In addition, Boomers and Xers are known entities. As marketers, we know what their issues are, how they were raised, what their values are and what language and positioning resonates with them. It seems pretty obvious that there is a highly primed market that needs some serious attention paid to it.
Gen Xers have always felt slighted. It’s what our generation was raised on. Corruption in government, recessions, failed military attempts, latchkey kids, divorce. We are wired to trust no one, be cynical, self-sufficient, freaking productive and highly skeptical. However, we are fiercely loyal – to our friends, our convictions and, yes, our brands.
Yes, Millennials are here to stay and they are going to rock our world with a level of complexity, diversity and globalism that we have never seen before. But let’s consider the low hanging fruit. Boomers and Xers are strong, viable consumers and will influence much of the future innovations and consumer habits. Boomers will change the way aging is perceived, accepted and create a need for a whole new category of products across multiple categories of health, grocery, consumer goods and more.
Gen Xers are the ones that will get the work done and we will ultimately shape what gets produced and launched for the Millennials and generations to come.
So next time you throw a party or hold a happy hour or look to the future, don’t forget about Gen X – we don’t retire for another 25 years.