Generation X, which refers to those born from the mid-sixties to late seventies is one of the most highly educated generations in history and is characterized by technological and media savvy, skepticism and pragmatism 1. Above all, these shrewd customers usually make informed purchasing decisions and often search the internet for the best deals. So what makes Generation X different from other generational cohorts?
Gen X grew up with both parents in the workforce, or in a divorced household, causing many of this generation to become independent at a young age 2. This generation is described as experiencing social insecurity, rapidly changing surroundings, and a lack of solid traditions. Members of this cohort are said to have the following characteristics 3:
- Value autonomy and independence
- Thrive to open communication
- View work from an action-oriented perspective
- Do not believe in “paying dues”
- Seek to acquire skills and expertise
- Do not have long term loyalty to a company (but are loyal to individuals)
- Believe in balancing work-life objectives
- Are reluctant to take on leadership roles
“Like their namesake suggests, Gen Xers are less distinctive than other generations. And they know it!” says Paul Taylor, executive vice president for special projects at the Pew Research Center. Therefore retailers should know how Generation Xers behave when shopping…
The shopping behavior of Generation X
Generally, generation X shoppers can be categorized by their keen understanding of marketing and media. Indeed, research is crucial for these individuals – they use the web to reinforce their existing opinions on brands and products, rather than to form them to begin with (RetailPro). Nelson Baber 4 did a study on how marketing practices should be adapted to today’s technology-driven culture. He found that Generation X spend half their time watching television – more than they spend on the Internet. However, Gen X will respond to television advertising as well as research information on the Internet. Therefore, Barber suggests products targeted toward Generation X should have informative advertisements on both venues that contain detailed advertising copy.
Generation X shopping online
Generation Xers are known to be shrewd online shoppers that spend nearly 40 hours per week shopping online. Therefore retailers with internet shopping sites should avoid too many pictures or advertisement copy that would cause skepticism among this group. Barber 4 suggests that advertisers present product information in a straightforward manner and allow users to share the site or product-specific selection with friends through e‑mail links or connections to social media. The table below lists some of the facts regarding internet use by Generation X.
Facts on Internet Usage among Generation X (Statista, 2013)
|Internet users in the USA||52.8 million|
|Mobile internet penetration (worldwide)||66%|
|Facebook account ownership (worldwide)||81%|
|Number of social network site users in the US||44.0 million|
|Median number of Facebook friends (US)||200|
|Online Shopping and Spending|
|Average online spending in the US||$561|
|Share of making purchases worldwide||68%|
|Books are the most purchased item||38%|
The data as shown in the table indicate that Generation X loves the internet, social media and online shopping. Importantly, online – and Bricks and Mortar retailers targeting Gen Xers should take their behavior and outlook on life into account to achieve their lasting patronage.
The last say about the shopping behavior of Generation X is best summarized by Lissitsa 1 and Kol, 2016. “Gen X is highly sophisticated in its buying behavior and is turned off by slick and generalized promotions. They still makes purchases based on traditional search and decision-making methods. They want to hear the features of the product as well as an explanation of why these features are necessary. Moreover, Gen X have an attitude of risk avoidance and a low capacity for risk. Lastly, as consumers, Gen X looks for customer convenience, community relations, and branding. They have a reputation of being incredibly disloyal to brands and companies.”
A Marketing Plan helps you to communicate the right content to the right audience.
- Selling to the Young Ones, Generation Z
- Shopping Behavior of The Baby Boomers
- Demographic Segmentation – Dividing the Market by Generations
1 Lissitsa, S. and Kol, O. 2016. Generation X vs. Generation Y–A decade of online shopping. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 31:304-312.
2 Acar, A.B. 2014. Do intrinsic and extrinsic motivation factors differ for Generation X and Generation Y. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 5(5):12-20.
3 Ordun, G. 2015. Millennial (Gen Y) consumer behavior their shopping preferences and perceptual maps associated with brand loyalty. Canadian Social Science, 11(4):40-55.
4 Barber, N.A. 2013. Investigating the potential influence of the internet as a new socialization agent in context with other traditional socialization agents. Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, 21(2):179-194.