Brands: don't forget the value of Gen X customers.

29.09.21 | By Brittany Stewart | opinion

In the excitement of Gen Z, Y have we forgotten about Gen X?

Gen Z may have the clout, but Gen X has the cash.

Brands used to be all about the millenials. Then along came Gen Z (born between 1997 and 2012) and left said millennials feeling like a forgotten teacher’s pet.

And for good reason. Gen Z represents a passionate, powerful and driven consumer group, demanding more from the brands that serve them - and rewarding those that do handsomely.

Of course, the obsession with youth is nothing new.

But by zeroing in on Gen Z and Gen Z alone, is the Dorian Grey approach leaving some brands close-minded and poorer for it?

Quite possibly.

Gen Z may have the clout, but Gen X has the cash. (And of course, those ‘controversial millennials’, many of whom are now in their late 30s and forties, do too.)

Gen X (those born between 1966 and 1981) are now sitting in their prime earning years. According to a 2017 report from KPMG, they’re also the most active online shoppers of all the age groups, making 20% more purchases that year than the young ‘uns beneath them. 

They know what they want, what they like and have the funds to buy it. 

As a 2021 eMarketer report puts it, “with above-average incomes and bigger-than-average households, Gen Xers remain a cohort marketers cannot afford to ignore.”

Of course, capturing consumers young means they have plenty of years ahead to keep supporting your brand. 

But Gen Z’s high expectations of brands are exactly what makes them less likely than other generations to be ‘brand loyal’ as it’s traditionally defined, according to 2021 research done by IBM.

Be too slow to engage with them or break your promises and they’ll quickly switch to a competitor. Like millennials, raised with a constant bombardment of media and marketing, they’re savvy when it comes to seeing through hype and jargon.

Focussing too much on appealing and speaking to Gen Z might cause your older audience to see less and less of themselves in your brand, and potentially rethink their brand loyalty.

The beauty industry in particular is one that has always prioritised youth. 

But the desire to look and feel our best doesn’t disappear on our 30th birthday. And while roads are being made with age inclusivity, when there’s only Kendall Jenner or Helen Mirren and not much in between, there’s a large chunk of - you guessed it - Gen X not feeling like they’re being spoken to.

So what should brands do? 

Of course, who your target audience or demographic is entirely depends on your product and brand goals. And maybe Gen Z alone are the perfect bullseye for you. But what if you rethought the way you considered and communicated with potential customers? Did away with a person’s age (demographics) and instead put more focus on a person’s values or interests (psychographics)? If you’ve ever worked with us before, you’ll know it’s long been our favoured approach.

It’s still targeted but arguably casts a wider net, drawing in the 19 year old who’d be interested in your product as much as the 59 year old.

While not entirely groundbreaking, it’s something that can be quickly forgotten in the every day of your brand’s external touchpoints. 

By speaking to how people feel they are, rather than a defining and ultimately limiting label like age, you’re more inclusive, relatable and interesting, too. 

According to a 2020 KPMG report, the COVID-19 pandemic has also accelerated the sharing of economic, environmental, social and technological values across each demographic, giving us more in common than ever before.

So forget the battle of the generations - and maybe don’t forget about Gen X.

Want to talk to every generation of the alphabet? From strategy to creative to campaigns to social, we know how. Let’s chat.

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