Squeezed between the larger baby boomer and millennial generations, Generation X is often overlooked by marketers. While they may not have the most disposable income, they have considerable purchasing power driven by often having dependent parents and children. Due to the challenging economic circumstances they grew up in, Generation X tends to be realistic, pragmatic and a bit cynical. While growing up before the internet age, they tend to be very comfortable in an online world.

Definition

The Pew Research Center defines Generation X (Gen X) as people born between 1965 and 1980. This cohort come after the Baby Boomer generation (defined as those born between 1946 and 1964) and precede Millennials (defined as persons born between 1981 and 1996, or those who are between the ages of 23 and 39).

Key insights

1. Generation X has small budgets but sizeable purchase power

Generation X is the first generation not to match or exceed the living standards of their parents. Hit by the economic hardships of debt, housing slumps and boom-and-bust financial market cycles, Gen X are the least likely to have been able to save money compared to other generations at the same life stage. As a result, their key concerns are being able to pay the bills at the end of the month, financial security and money for retirement. Student loan or credit card debt determines many of Generation X’s career choices. These economic realities are compounded by Gen X being the first sandwich generation - supporting both their ageing parents and their children. While they must divide their budgets between themselves and their dependents, they are often responsible for making purchase decisions across three generations and spend a third more than millennials on products and services. For example, in the US, Gen X spends more money than millennials in FMCG - and the most on wine and food of any generation - perhaps because many are buying three meals a day for three generations.