Gen X consumers, who are now between the ages of 35 and 47, had a far different childhood than baby boomers, and their mentality reflects that. While boomers grew up mainly in homes with stay-at-home moms, Gen Xers were the first latchkey kids, with both mom and dad working outside the home, explains Goodman. They were early adopters of computers, and are now the creators of today’s technological marvels. They were also the most impacted by the dot-com bust of the 1990s.
As a result, they are skeptics; they want authenticity, to be certain that you are not trying to pull one over on them. You cannot simply make a claim that a beauty product reduces wrinkles, for example; you have to show them, to prove it to them, says Stovall. They read ingredients and research purchases. “The bottom line is that [the Gen X consumer] will take more time to look at something, to research it,” says Goodman. Gen Xers are savvy shoppers and, because they are typically in two-income households, they have the cash to spend.
And yet, they are the least sure of themselves as a generation, says Carol Phillips, president of BrandAmplitude in Stevensville, Michigan. Gen Xers “are less sure about what’s appropriate for them and are more likely to say their style is in transition,” says Phillips. Consequently, they need more consultation during the sales process—more advice, help and reassurance that a particular product is right for them.
According to a 2011 study for Vogue magazine, says Judy Hopelain, partner in BrandAmplitude, Gen X consumers focus more on content and voice in advertisements. The message and words used are far more important to them than design or appearance of marketing materials. They want information, first and foremost.
Additionally, Gen X and boomer women are independent decision makers. Says Goodman, “Boomers themselves don’t group together; they’re an individualistic and independent generation. So it doesn’t matter that Jane Doe wants this beauty product. You have to talk to each Gen X and boomer shopper as an individual, not as a group.”
That is an important message for marketers appealing to Gen X consumers. Speak to each woman in your communiques, rather than lumping all Gen X women together. Marketing via email works for Gen Xers, unlike boomers, in part because of their comfort level with technology.
Another important marketing tip is scheduling events. “Gen X shoppers are more event-driven,” says Phillips. “They want to see for themselves,” how something works or feels. That means that holding product workshops, sampling sessions or trunk shows will be a big draw for this crowd. Even better, have individual demonstrations to show each attendee how a certain product performs for them.