Somewhere between Baby Boomers and Millennials, a generation got lost. Generation X, roughly defined as anyone born between 1965 to 1980, has been marginalized by the media. But it doesn’t mean its members aren’t viable, cash-spending prospects for your business.
To tap their potential, here are some things you should know about the thirty-to pushing-fifty-somethings walking through your door.
Few generations are feeling a one-two punch in the pocketbook like Gen Xers. Those who own homes saw values plummet, while rising education costs are making the prospect of saving for their children to go to college even more daunting. According to a January, 2013 Mintel Study, many plan to work well past the age of 65.
Because of this financial pickle, financial planners can relish the opportunity to help Gen Xers out. If you’re an independent advisor or you run a small firm, a two-pronged marketing effort emphasizing debt elimination and retirement saving hits at the heart of need. Once these are addressed, target higher education saving.
The widely held belief that Gen Xers are slackers is a myth. According to a CNN Living Report, 86% of them are employed, and 70% of those devote 40 or more hours to work each week. For those with a professional or doctorate degree, the percentage rises to 50 hours and up. As a business owner, consider hours that cater to this busy demographic or develop a turnkey business website with 24/7 convenience. Consider also that hard-working Gen Xers might make great employees.
While many Gen Xers were raised as latchkey kids, the prediction that they would grow up as disengaged parents never came to pass. In fact, many taken the opposite approach to the task of raising their own children, fitting in time for reading and activities even if both mom and dad work. Marketing from a family perspective is one way to appeal to this group. Playing the family-owned business card (if this is indeed the case), is also a way to connect.
When tax-deductible credit card interest went away in 1986, financial institutions soon began positioning deductible home equity loans as a tax-smart way to borrow. Many older Gen Xers who used these loans to fund family start-up costs are now dealing with the consequences of diminished equity and lower home values. As such, many are using credit less. Help their cause and grow your business with loyalty programs, coupons and incentives for paying in cash.
If you’re a carpenter, plumber, landscaper or other home remodeler, you can help Gen Xers build equity in their homes faster by providing ways to update affordably.
Provide low-cost alternatives or consult with designers or decorators who can do the most on limited a budget. Or consider loss leader projects that get you in the door and make way for projects down the road.
While Millennials own today’s tech spotlight, let’s not forget that Gen Xers were the first to grow up with computers, cell phones, laptops and the Internet. They’re comfortable with technology and see it as a means to an end. A robust business website will help facilitate sales online. Soliciting email addresses from Gen Xers will build a database that’s more likely to respond.
More that 60% of Gen Xers hold college degrees, and the group as a whole is more ethnically diverse than the Baby Boomers who came before them. Appeal to their intelligence in your advertising and seek employees who reflect this ethnic makeup.
Despite being sandwiched in the middle of the Baby Boomers and Millennials, Gen Xers stand out in a variety of ways. Knowing what makes them unique is the key to finding their value.