Gen X: The New Luxury Buyers And How To Reach Them

There’s a new customer segment to target: Slackers. In early May, the results of the Second Annual American Express Platinum Luxury Survey were announced. The biggest surprise that emerged was that, for the first time ever, Generation X is spending substantially more on luxury purchases than their Baby Boomer counterparts. That’s right: Members of the MTV-era “slacker” generation are outspending Boomers by roughly 18% in multiple luxury categories, in excess of $4,000 for households included in the survey. Now that Gen X is reaching the peak of their professional lives – they’re between 35 and 46 today – many are out-earning Boomers. That older generation is retiring at a rate of roughly 10,000 per day, and curbing their historically excessive spending habits as they enter their golden years.

And while they still remember the glory days of paper-based marketing, this is also a very “wired” generation, the first to really experience the Internet as part of every day life. Consequently, they habitually research items online prior to purchase. What are the wealthy and affluent Gen Xers purchasing? Per the Amex survey, Gen Xers with a household income of $213K or more are spending over $3k annually on fragrance, cosmetics and beauty products, over $6K on fashion accessories, over $23K on clothes and nearly $4K on booze. In all these categories, they are outspending the Boomers. They’re also spending more in entertainment, personal and health services.

But just because they like nice things, don’t assume they’re throwing money out the window. Gen X adults are very prudent in their purchasing habits. They will pay more for superior quality, but they won’t overpay for it. A sensible group, they’re frequently looking for the best possible deal. T

he Gen X audience is not swayed by hype or trends. They’re not easy to manipulate because they tend toward skepticism. This is the generation that begged Mom to buy that cereal on TV with the prize in the box, only to find that the prize was two inches high, made of plastic, and broken in minutes (if not seconds). Therefore, the best approach in digital messaging is an honest one. As WineX publisher Darryl Roberts put it, “we have a bullshit meter more sensitive than any seismograph.”

 Keep it real. If you’re trying too hard to be cool, this audience will catch on quickly.

With the vast majority of Gen X online (86%, per Pew’s Generations 2011 report), there are clear opportunities to find them. For example, with so many Gen Xers researching purchases in advance, you want to be highly visible along their path to purchase. And because they have been online for so long and have made so many purchases they have been well researched by audience targeting platforms. Customer segments among Gen X are deep and detailed. Within your ad strategy consider that simply being "affluent" might not be enough. There are affluent Gen X customers who have recently travelled, or recently retired, for example. 

Offer discounts or coupons where possible, while extolling the high quality of your product or service. Remember – Gen X loves superior quality, but they also love a great deal.

It’s also important to provide communication at every stage of the purchase cycle. This skeptical bunch needs assurance that your product is real, high quality, and that you stand behind it. You’d also do well to offer them a sensible return policy and a money-back guarantee, if that’s suitable for your business. When you please the Gen X shopper, they’re the most likely of all generations to write a review and share their love of your product or service (or your great offer) with friends.

Really, the best way to resonate with Generation X is the best way to resonate with any generation: Speak honestly, and stand behind your product 100%. If you keep it real, honest and human, you’ll win with this brand-loyal demographic.

Tags: affluent, gen x
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3 comments about "Gen X: The New Luxury Buyers And How To Reach Them ".
  1. Jeffrey Burke from Marketing , May 30, 2012 at 11:09 a.m.
    "spending over $3k annually on fragrance, cosmetics and beauty products, over $6K on fashion accessories, over $23K on clothes and nearly $4K on booze." Sounds like the definition of throwing money out the window.
  2. Elmer Rich iii from Rich & Co. , May 30, 2012 at 3:31 p.m.
    Any independent research on this and media usage?
  3. Comment7 A. from CA , May 31, 2012 at 2:32 p.m.
    You wrote that Gen Xers are "between 35 and 46 today". However, a generation is about a 20 year span -- not an 11 year span. Gen Xers were born between 1961 and 1981. They're about 93 million people in the U.S. See Strauss & Howe's generational theory http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strauss-Howe_generational_theory