Gen X: The Marketing Blind Spot?

Young consumers have always been the key focus of attention for marketers in Asia.

With a population that is young (over half the population of India and over a third of the population of China are under the age of 30) and a world that is rapidly turning to technology, Gen Z and Millennials are the audience of focus.

Baby Boomers and Traditionalists (75 years old and above) also receive attention from some quarters, primarily due to their perceived differentiated needs (healthcare, housing, etc.). In all this hyper-classification, the Gen X consumer often gets left out.

Born between 1965 and 1980, Gen X are often referred to as the ‘sandwich generation’, sitting between the analogue life of the Boomers and Traditionalists and the digital-first lives of Millennials and Gen Z. Due to this, brands tend to bundle Gen X with their adjacent cohorts. However, upon closer examination, Gen X have several distinct characteristics of interest to marketers. While not making the headlines like their younger cohorts, Gen X could potentially be the silent giant that brands need for their next stage of growth. Some of the key considerations for brands to cater to this cohort are:

Powerful influencers

Gen X are an essential part of the corporate workforce and are at the peak of their working careers. They control some of the largest organisations in the world (Tesla, Tencent, etc) and are instrumental in making decisions that are shaping our world today. They are also here to stay, with the older Gen X expected to remain in the workforce for an average of 10 years and the youngest potentially working for another 30.

Heavy spenders

Despite the future potential of young consumers, Gen X have the money to spend now. Singaporean Gen X have a gross mean income that is almost double that of the previous generation. They are also responsible for the spending needs of more people than their cohorts. Roughly half of Gen X are supporting a parent and a child at the same time, making them the highest spenders among all the generational cohorts.

Experience chasers

With growing professional stature, Gen X are typically particular about what they wear, where they shop, where they travel, etc. They prefer quality over quantity and are willing to spend a lot on unique experiences. Gen X in Singapore and Japan generally spend over a quarter of their incomes on travel and holidays.

Deal-makers

Despite the focus on quality, Gen X like a good deal, and sales and coupons are a good way to attract their attention. 86% of Gen X were willing to try a new brand if it offers a coupon or a discount. They also like to get rewarded for their repeat business, with 71% appreciating rewards programs.

Digitally adaptable

While Gen X are not digital natives like Millennials or Gen Z, they have proven to have adapted well to the digital age. A study by HRD found that over half of Gen X employees (54%) in Asia were digitally savvy at work, on par with their Millennial (56%) counterparts. This extends to the way they make purchases. While Singaporean Gen X mainly prefer to use their credit cards, over half of them make payments with mobile/ digital wallets.

Convenience hunters

Mostly working or with their families, Gen X are busy all the time, making convenience paramount during any purchase experience. They are more willing to try new categories (e.g. meal prep subscriptions, etc) or new purchase channels if it makes their life easy. Over one in three Singaporean Gen X have experimented with making purchases through social media sites (e.g. Facebook Marketplace, etc).

Gen X are silently powerful consumers who have the knowledge and the influence to swing key decisions in their household. Combining that with growing life expectancy rates in Asia makes this cohort a very attractive long-term proposition for brands in the region.

However, there are challenges in engaging with this audience. Being the ‘sandwich generation’, Gen X have influences from generations that came before and after them. Because of this, engagement with this consumer will need to be more personal and customised.

Brands who can effectively reach out to this diverse audience and provide products/services that focus on value, quality, and convenience stand to benefit from their business and loyalty.

By: James Redden LinkedIn, Managing Director-Asia Pacific and Satpal Daryanani LinkedIn, Research Manager at 2CV