To understand the marketing strategies a supermarket needs to use to attract and gain loyal shopping from Generation X, they first need to understand who Generation X is, and why this generation is the way it is. According to Pew Research Center, Generation X consists of the population of American adults presently ranging in age from 35 to 50 years old.
Sandwiched between the baby boomers and millennials, Generation X’s numbers fall short of both the bookend generations in front of them and behind them. With the baby boomer generation at 77 million and the millennials at an estimated 83 million, they considerably outnumber Generation X. Another interesting fact that lessens Generation X’s numbers is its span. Most generations span a roughly 20 year period, but for some reason, most likely culture driven, Generation X spans only about 16 years, says Paul Taylor, executive vice president for special projects at the Pew Research Center.
As the first “latchkey kids” and children of high-rising divorce rates in the ‘70s, Gen Xers grew into an independent and self-reliant generation. They prefer to do things their own way; they’re savvy, skeptical and cynical. Taylor refers to them as the “neglected middle child,” and this adds to their being slighted in favor of the boomers and millennials. This also adds to the, what seems to be, indifference on their part to care. They resist pampering and preening, Taylor says, and don’t care what others think of them, or if others think of them at all.
Generation X saw the first home computers, and quickly learned to use them. Although the millennial generation springs first to mind when thinking of technology today, it was Generation X that saw this technology from its infancy to where it is today.
Growing up with fewer rules, more autonomy, and often with single parents that worked long hours plays a large role in the attitudes of the demographic. They reject rules altogether as opposed to the baby boomers who embrace them, and the millennials who re-write them.
In their very young years as small children, Generation X didn’t possess the capability to its future, but the freedom it enjoyed gave it hope. As it came of age and began to understand the world, political and governmental antics along with a tanking economy gave the generation a genuine and warranted distrust for authority. Generation X began to understand that security would come only from its own power and activism.
The long and dedicated work hours of their baby boomer parents gave Gen Xers a strong work ethic, but the soaring divorce rate gave them a deep yearning for the family unit. Gen Xers work hard and are results oriented, but value family time more than work. They work to live rather than living to work.
Overall, Generation X has developed into a complicated and unique demographic. It looks for affordability, but at the same time demands quality. It understands the value of hard work, but puts work second to family. It’s not perceived as technically savvy as the millennial generation, but used and developed the technology that millennials are so adept at using.
“Generation X is uniquely positioned. They know what they want and what they like and most importantly who they are,” says Joe Stagaman, executive vice president, advertising effectiveness analytics for Nielsen. “Recognizing this creates an opportunity for marketers to appeal to this population with a genuine and realistic campaign that Gen Xers can identify with.”
So what do they want?
- Fresh ideas – Generation grew up with the strategies that worked on their baby boomer parents. They’d rather see something new and recognize and pay no mind to the tactics being regurgitated for them.
- Affordable quality – Trends that don’t cost a lot appeal greatly to Generation X. For example, the green movement attracts Generation X as its affordability and social concern mean a lot.
- No hard sell – Generation X does not respond to hard selling tactics. It defines the hard sell as brash and rude. Appeal to Generation X by telling them the story of what the product is and where its value comes from. Gain trust first.
- Truth and honesty – Generation X knows about the tricks and gimmicks of selling. To manipulate Generation X could prove very difficult and detrimental.
- Work with them – In their search for the best value balance between price and quality, Gen Xers will want a little special attention. Give them a sample or tell them about an upcoming special to gain trust, loyalty and gently persuade them to choose you.
- Tread lightly – Generation X contains a diverse group of people and was the first generation to grow up surrounded by diversity. If attempting humor, proceed with caution and sensitivity.