Are you interested in generations and their notable traits? In this article, you will learn about two significant age groups – Generation X and Baby Boomers. You might have already heard about the second remarkable group, while the first one may be a complete mystery to you since it is often forgotten by marketers.
What is Generation X?
Generation X is the name which is used to describe people born between 1965 and 1979 . It is known to be one of the smallest generations in the history of the United States. Today, the representatives of this generation are from 40 to 54 years old, and they can be called the hardest age group for understanding. Some of the Gen Xers, especially those who are younger, are closer to most talked about Millennials in their mindsets, habits and attitude towards technologies. The others are more like the famous Baby Boomer generation. Staying between two very notable age groups, Generation X is often forgotten. It is the reason why it got its second name – the Forgotten Generation.
The rise of indie movies, hip-hop and grunge – this all is Generation X. The music videos also appeared and peaked in popularity together with the well-known MTV channel with this age group. That is also why sometimes Xers are called MTV Generation.
Who are Baby Boomers?
Baby Boomers are a big group of people who were born between 1944 and 1964. The name of this generation comes from the time when after World War II, people felt that the rough period is over. Back then, the global happiness resulted in a significant increase in the number of babies born. In one of the first years of boom – 1946 – there were 3.4 million babies born in the United States . It is still a record number for one year period.
However, it is not entirely clear that the overall optimistic mood after the end of the war caused this baby boom. There are other possible reasons for the surge in births like accessible consumable goods and higher wages which made people believe in the better future for their families. The standards of living went up after the war and prosperity created a suitable environment for having more children.
What is the Generation Before Baby Boomers?
The Silent Generation is the one before Baby Boomers, and it consists of people born between 1928 and 1944. This interesting name goes back to the McCarthy Era when people did not feel safe to speak out and share with the others what they really think . There were not many babies born during the time of the Silent Generation. The birth rate was low, mostly because people felt too unsafe and insecure to have children.
The representatives of the Silent Generation are currently between 75 and 91 years old. They were raised in the era free from modern technologies and the internet, and today they are the people who take the least advantage of online shopping and global network in general, compared to the other generations.
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What are the Generation Xers and Baby Boomers’ Traits?
What are the Baby Boomers’ Personal Qualities?
The biggest admirers of the American dream, Baby Boomers are often seen materialistic and ambitious. Usually, they are called so for being the wealthiest generation. In the United States alone, they control over 70% of disposable income – a big group of high spenders who can afford any kind of luxury products including jewellery, real estate and brand-new cars. They were raised in a time when people were not commonly switching from one job to another every year. So, most of the Boomers stayed with one employer for the whole career life. It turned out to be rewarding for them.
However, even though the Baby Boomer generation has much money to spend, most of them do not easily leave it in stores. To work with those who have most faiths in brands they shop from for decades, a retailer needs to find the right approach.
Sometimes Baby Boomers give online shopping a try, but most often they prefer to shop in-store, especially when it comes to grocery shopping. It is important for them to be able to touch the product before buying it or try it on. Also, no less important is the shopping experience itself. For some Boomers, personal connection with the brand is even more important than the product they get. The representatives of this generation like to communicate with employees and appreciate it if they are remembered. Think about it – many of us have parents or grandparents who often go to the cafes or restaurants where the food quality requires improvement, but where every employee knows their names. The high-quality service is a must for Baby Boomers.
Growing up in the post-war period made this generation, in general, quite optimistic, they believe in the bright future of the world and the United States specifically. However, their optimism is grounded. Baby Boomers do not believe in miracles but think that this bright future will be reached thanks to the collaborative hard work of the people. As a retailer, you need to keep in mind that Baby Boomers are not the ones who will appreciate it if you promise them rainbows or magic cure-all items. They may buy into such tricks once but you will not see them in your store ever again. So, make sure to stay realistic if you want to earn a loyal, long-term customer.
What are the Gen Xers’ Traits?
Generation Xers are considered to be quite controversial. Most of them feel comfortable with modern technologies, but they do not have much faith in trending top-notch devices like wireless headphones or smartwatches. Xers often shop online using primarily desktop computers but also check out the companies they want to purchase from using smartphones. On average, the representatives of Generation X spend 110 minutes a day on mobile. It may seem to be a long time until you compare it with the time an average Millennial spends a day using a mobile phone – 342 minutes .
Sometimes the representatives of Generation X are called individualistic, and it is true when it comes to their professional life. But at the same time, they have strong feelings of the core family values – especially compared to the Baby Boomers. Most of them are family-attached and feel the responsibility to provide younger relatives with everything necessary for living. So, usually, they are those parents who take their child, who is most commonly a young Millennial or Generation Z representative, to the store for the latest technological device.
Raised in the 1970s, the time when their Baby Boomer and the Silent Generation parents were not much family-oriented, Generation Xers generally have developed self-sufficiency and feeling of responsibility for themselves and others. They also tend to be quite financially responsible, which makes them a hard-to-approach targeting group for some marketers, including those who promote very expensive products. Most Xers highly prefer ownership over access compared to Millennials. They are not likely to take various loans to afford luxury products, but they enjoy spending the money that they have already earned.
Another essential trait of Generation X is the nostalgic feeling that most of them have about the past and their childhood specifically. YouTube survey shows that nostalgia is one of the most popular video searches from the people of this age group .
How to market to Generation X and Baby Boomers
How to win Generation X over
Lately, the marketing world has been obsessed with Millennials and many companies forget about Generation X at all. However, it is a big mistake since Xers are the ones who started a massive wave of consumerism in the United States.
- Remember about their nostalgia feeling. If Generation X is your targeting group, make them think about the nice times of their childhood and teenagehood entering your physical store or website. Keep your design Generation X-friendly not overusing bright trendy details. You can use the common elements of the past on your product’s packaging, old-fashioned promotion videos, music or slogans. In case Generation X is not your primary customer, but you just try to find the best approach to everyone, do not overuse this technique.
- Show your customers that you care and remember about them. As we mentioned earlier, another name of Generation X is the Forgotten Generation, and they are not very happy with this name. Many of the people in this age group – 54% – have the feeling that marketers overlook their needs targeting either younger Millennials or older Baby Boomers . Showing care, a marketer or business owner can attract loyal customers.
- Keep in mind their family attachment. Targeting Generation Z or Millennials, the businesses are very likely to aim the pockets of Generation X. Most Xers cover the expenses of their kids, and they will pay for sometimes more willingly if they like the brand or products themselves too. At the same time, you need to remember that they are usually not parents of toddlers or infants but older kids – if you sell toys or clothes for new-borns, they are not your targeting audience.
- Do not forget about traditional media and paper mail advertisements. A lot of marketers treat Generation X like Millennials, expecting them to misuse their mobile phones and be connected to the internet 24/7. But most of them still appreciate traditional media like television or radio. Also, even though most of them like to receive email coupons, a lot of Xers are responsive to old-fashioned mail cards and advertisements.
- Respect your customer. This piece of advice may seem to be a no-brainer, but respect is highly important in building a long-term relationship with a Generation X customer. Making purchases, they want to be valued even if its just regular grocery shopping. Only if they get this feeling at your store, they will come back there again.
How to win Baby Boomers over
Baby Boomers are the generation that should be taken into account. The retailers have to remember about them even if they think that their products do not match the interests of this generation. Today, thousands of Baby Boomers around the United States enter the post-career life period – they have time for shopping and money to spend. They aren’t easy to work with and market to, but if you find the way to their hearts, it will pay off.
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- Don’t ignore social media. Thinking about Baby Boomers, you may imagine someone reading a newspaper and sending paper letters instead of emails. This image is wrong – they are more tech-savvy than you think. 82.3% of Baby Boomers who use the internet have at least one social media profile. In the list of popular choices, Facebook comes first.
- Give them the time they need. Baby Boomers are not big fans of fast, thoughtless purchases. Usually, they take time to read about a product online, see its quality, and decide if they really need it. They value the time they spend to earn money, and it adds extra value for them to the money itself. Unplanned purchases are not for Baby Boomers, and everything they buy is some kind of commitment to them.
- Understand their humour. Some Baby Boomers appreciate such trending entertainment forms as memes, vines or TikTok videos, but some will not find it appropriate or will just be confused about the meaning. You have to be selective and careful when you plan to implement humour elements in marketing.
- Don’t use the word “old” or its synonyms. When you doubt whether you should mention age or not, talking to or about your Baby Boomer customers, better don’t do it. Something like “senior discount” in most of the cases will not bring your company any good. Some of your customers may find it offensive if you hint that they are old, and some may just turn upset and never come back to your store. The best tactic is to avoid talking about age in the first place. It works the same way with Generation Z, who also would not appreciate you pointing out their age saying how young they are.
- Explain how your product will improve a customer’s life. Baby Boomers are the ones who make purchases only when they believe that it is necessary. They will not buy something just because it is trending and they can afford it – this generation seeks usefulness. Filling your website with helpful content, you will make them think positive about your brand in general, and thus, about your products. Baby Boomers are loyal customers, and if once you gain their trust online, they are likely to have faith in your brand for the long run.
In order to develop a successful marketing strategy, you need to understand your customers better than they do it themselves. They are not just numbers in your statistics but real people who have their needs that you have to be familiar with, to provide the best service. Hopefully, this article helped you to get to know your Baby Boomer clients and the ones that belong to Generation X better.
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Do you have experience marketing to Baby Boomers or Generation X? Feel free to share in the comments below!