Gen X: Retail Marketing for a Forgotten Generation

Gen X: Retail Marketing for a Forgotten Generation


Sandwiched somewhere between the WWII baby boom and the internet rise of the 1980’s; Gen X not only embody the American dream, they are the American reality. Born between 1965 and 1980, this generation is defined as the bridge between the Baby Boomers and the Millennials. Gen X is the smallest generation of the 3; Gen X’ers are raising children, paying mortgages and receiving disproportionately higher incomes than their Millennial counterparts. Known for their fiscal responsibility, Gen X’ers are rooted in family values and fiscal responsibility.

What makes this group tick?

  1. Change, change, change! This generation is the first to really challenge social norms. They have been defined by such events stemming from the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, and Roe v. Wade. These  
  2. A family affair: born at the tail end of the baby boom, many Gen X’ers have subscribed to the idea of the nuclear family. While more Gen X’ers have been impacted by divorce than their previous counterparts, their families and family spending are dominating the modern global marketplace.
  3. Fiscal responsibility and self reliance. Colloquially known as the “latch-key kids”; parental divorce rate peaked in the 1980’s, making Gen X the first generation to be impacted by single parent households more so than their predecessors. 50% of Gen X’ers cite providing for their family, paying off a mortgage and saving for retirement as their primary financial goals. They no longer had the luxury of riding the post war boom, learning to fend for themselves, Gen X has focused on gaining financial independence.

So how do you target retail packaging and graphic design to Generation X?

  1. Be authentic. Think clear, concise and genuine. Unlike their Millennial counterparts, Gen X’ers are loyal. Brand loyalty has been a consistent consumer trait among the Gen X cohort. Packaging that is simple, easy to understand and relays a message of the authenticity and reliability of your product or service.
  2. Appeal to fiscal responsibility. Gen X’ers are stereotypically family oriented and financially independent. Minimalism is key to packaging design here – no gaudy or flashy graphic design elements here. The message should be of pragmatism and usefulness.
  3. Be consistent. As previously stated, Gen X’ers are big on brand loyalty. Whether it’s your floor displays, counter displays, packaging or custom boxes, ensuring that your branding is recognizable and consistent will appeal to the pragmatic Gen X’er and keep them coming back for more.
  4. Make it personal. Gen X’ers tend to be more responsive to personalized marketing strategies. Videos, emails and snail mail are still effective; as well, phone contact is known to been a powerful tool.

Tune in next week when we discuss some design strategies targeted towards Baby Boomers.

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