Gen-X'ers Viewed As A Marketing Opportunity

According to a recent study from the Shullman Pulse, marketers and their agencies should review strategies focusing on a largely overlooked group, the Gen-X'ers, and even more important for those targeting the affluent market. Upscale Gen-X'ers have different interests, goals, and concerns compared with the other generations.

One of the main goals for half of them, says the report, is to provide for their children's college expenses, and almost as many are focused on having enough income for retirement. Also on their minds are their own health, recession, crime, and climate change. But, at the same time, more than half are optimistic about the U.S. economy and two-thirds are "very satisfied" or "satisfied" with life today.

The report focuses on the entire Gen-X generation, currently 34 to 48 years old, both those who are upscale and either millionaires or with a household income of $250,000 or more, and the balance of Gen-X'ers, who do not have high net worth or household income and identified as mass-market Gen-X'ers. Millionaires are defined as consumers with a personal net worth of $1 million or more.

Based on an estimated total adult population of 236.9 million according to the Current Population Survey of the Bureau of the Census published in the fall of 2013, the Generation Age Range is, in number of adults and percent of adults:

  • Millennials             18 to 33 years old;             67.9 million;             29%
  • Gen-X                        34 to 48 years old;             60.4 million;             25%
  • Baby Boomers             49 to 67 years old;             74.9 million;             32%
  • Seniors             68 or older;             33.7 million;             14%

Compared with all adults, and especially compared with their mass-market generational peers, upscale Gen-X'ers are more optimistic about the U.S. economy.

Optimism About The US Economy

 

Gen-X'ers

 

All Adults

Upscale

Mass-Market

Very optimistic or Optimistic (total)

42%

54%

29%

Very optimistic

15

8

10

Optimistic

26

46

19

Source: ShullmanPulse, July 2014

And, affluent Gen-X'ers are planning significant expenditures. Traveling for pleasure tops the list among all adults. 65% of upscale Gen-X'ers plan on traveling for pleasure, compared with just more than half of mass-market Gen-X'ers. Luxury purchasing is also in the plans of half of the upscale Gen-X'ers, compared with less than one third of their mass-market generational peers.

Planned Expenditures

 

Gen-X'ers

 

All Adults

Upscale

Mass-Market

Travel for pleasure

60%

65%

54%

Buy one or more luxuries

34

51

30

Save for a "rainy day"

33

24

39

Make a donation to a charity/non-profit

27

29

25

Save/invest for your retirement

20

24

26

Save for college-related expenses

13

15

19

Engage a financial advisor

12

27

14

Source: ShullmanPulse, July 2014

60 million Gen-X'ers constitute 25% of all adults, but hold 29% of estimated net worth dollars and earned 31% of total income dollars. More importantly, on a per adult basis Gen-X'ers rank as the number one generation based on total net worth dollars and total income dollars.

Net Worth and Income (% of Respondents)

Share of Total Net Worth Dollars

Segment

Share

Baby Boomers

34%

Gen-X

29%

Millennials

21%

Seniors

16%

 

Share of Total Income Dollars

Baby Boomers

39%

Gen-X

31%

Millennials

18%

Seniors

11%

Source: ShullmanPulse, July 2014

The bottom line, says the report, is that Gen-X'ers (especially the affluent) are a complex group, with more serious concerns than Boomers and Millennials, while being generally upbeat and ready to spend at the same time.

The upscale Gen-X'ers have an average household income that is close to three times that of adults in the general population. Since 36% of them (about 2 million adults) have household incomes of $250,000 or more, the remaining 64% (about 4 million adults) derive their "upscale" status from having a personal net worth of $1 million or more. More than 75% of the Gen-X'ers fall into the "millionaire" definition, which means that the remaining quarter live in households with incomes of $250,000 or more.

Personal financial goals of upscale Gen-X'ers vary from those of all adults and also from those of mass-market Gen-X'ers. Half of them (compared with only one in five of all adults) state that one of their main goals is to provide for their children's college expenses. Like all adults and mass-market Gen-X'ers, more than four out of ten upscale Gen-X'ers aim to have enough money for emergency expenses and to have enough income for retirement. For mass-market Gen-X'ers, as for all adults, the most popular goal is to have enough money for daily living expenses.

Personal Financial Goals Of Upscale Gen-X'ers

 

Gen-X'ers

 

All Adults

Upscale

Mass-Market

Have enough money for daily living expenses

51%

39%

54%

Have enough money for unexpected emergency expenses

44

45

50

Have enough income for retirement

42

45

41

Reduce debts

37

19

44

Remain financially independent

36

36

40

Improve standard of living

31

16

41

Provide protection for family in case you die

27

30

27

Keep up with inflation

27

27

30

Become financially independent

26

31

22

Have personal control over assets

23

36

21

Have fun/a challenge

21

30

20

Provide for children's college expenses

19

51

31

Save/invest for some future "big-ticket" expenditure

19

14

21

Buy a home

16

29

20

Avoid or minimize taxes

14

27

14

Provide an estate for your spouse or children

12

18

10

Become rich

12

7

11

Have guaranteed, fixed-return investments

10

11

8

Start a business

8

22

14

Make quick profits

7

2

5

Provide for grandchildren's college expenses

5

6

4

Source: ShullmanPulse, July 2014

Out of a list potential concerns, upscale Gen-X'ers, to a greater degree than all adults, are most worried about their own health. The price of gasoline, having enough money saved to retire comfortably, and their family's health are more a concern for mass-market Gen-X'ers. Some concerns that upscale Gen-X'ers disproportionately report are the economy going into recession, crime, climate change, and arranging for their children's or grandchildren's education.

Current Concerns

 

Gen-X'ers

 

All Adults

Upscale

Mass-Market

Own health

35%

43%

33%

The price of gasoline

34

25

39

Having enough money saved to retire comfortably

29

22

33

Family's health

28

15

33

Impact of obamacare on you and family

28

23

29

Economy going into recession

24

30

21

Out of work and finding a good job

19

19

26

Inflation

19

21

13

Political gridlock in d.c.

18

12

10

Resolving u.s. debt limit issue

18

19

12

Moral decline

18

20

12

Terrorism

17

20

16

Crime

15

22

15

Political corruption and financial scandals

14

12

13

Poverty and social inequality

14

2

14

Effective gun control

13

12

12

The value of the u.s. dollar

13

16

15

Taking care of parents

13

15

17

Threats against the environment

11

10

10

Arranging a good education for children or grandchildren

11

25

19

Climate change

11

21

8

Able to afford to send your children or grandchildren to college

10

11

15

Source: ShullmanPulse, July 2014

Showing more confidence than their mass-market peers, more than half of the upscale Gen-X'ers expect to spend "slightly more" in the next 12 months compared with the past 12 months

Spending In Next 12 Months (Compared With Past 12 Months)

 

Gen-X'ers

 

All Adults

Upscale

Mass-Market

Expect to spend more in the next 12 months (total)

37%

54%

35%

A lot more

8

1

8

Slightly more

29

54

27

Expect to spend about the same

54

44

54

Source: ShullmanPulse, July 2014

This ongoing study focuses on the future purchasing plans and optimism levels of upscale America's consumers, as well as their perspectives on current events and their shopping, buying, saving, and investing, as well as media platform behaviors and attitudes, says Shullman.

For the complete report and charts in PDF format, please visit Shullman here.

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1 comment about "Gen-X'ers Viewed As A Marketing Opportunity".
  1. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , August 5, 2014 at 8:52 a.m.
    Obviously, the financial education system is proving to be rotten.