Gen X Is The Generation That Affluent Marketers Can't Afford To Ignore

As part of our recent focus on wealth, our previous column, “Millennials Are the Future, But Boomers Are Today,” addressed where household income and wealth currently reside among upscale consumers. For the first time, we also included mass-market consumers in order to provide affluent marketers with a benchmark of the rest of America, which is often a target market. 

While Millennials continue to be a hot marketing topic, our latest column indicated that total spending power in aggregate is still with the Boomers when share of total net worth and share of total household income are considered by generation. This led a number of readers to question whether or not the Boomers have the highest spending power on average of all the generations we track. In that regard, we're now addressing this specific question by focusing on the Gen Xers among upscale consumers and, again, among mass-market consumers to provide context. Gen Xers are the generation affluent marketers cannot afford to ignore based on their numbers, their average household income, and their average net worth.

Following are estimated indices for American adults by their generation for their average household incomes and average personal net worths. The Bureau of the Census is the source for average household incomes, and our ongoing survey for average personal net worths. The estimated number of adults in each generation, based on Census statistics, follows the generation's name.

Average Household Average Personal

Generation (size) Income Index Net Worth Index

All Adults (236.9 million) 100 100

Millennials (67.9 million) 94 75

Gen-X (60.4 million) 118 113

Baby Boomers (74.9 million) 99 108

Seniors (33.7 million) 62 112

Notably, the 60 million Gen Xers, who now range in age from 34 to 48, are the second-largest generation, constituting 25% of all U.S. adults 18 or older, and are ranked #1 by far for their average household incomes (which many marketers use as one of their targeting metrics) and for their net worths by a very small margin compared with the Seniors.

A further look at the Gen X generation reveals the following that marketers cannot afford to ignore, including: 

  • About 6 million of the Gen Xers are truly affluent (they either live in households with household incomes of $250,000+ or their personal net worth is $1 million or more);
  • The Gen Xers' share of total estimated net worth dollars (29%) ranks #2 of all the generations (Boomers are in first place for this metric);
  • The Gen Xers' share of total personal income dollars (31%) again ranks # 2 of all the generations (Boomers again are in first place in this metric).

For marketers focused on affluent Gen Xers (those with household incomes of $250,000+ or personal net worth of $1 million or more):

  • The majority of affluent Gen Xers (51%) are financially focused on providing for their children's college expenses (it's their #1 financial goal);
  • Finally, regarding their spending plans for the near future, affluent Gen Xers (65%) have traveling for pleasure in their plans, and over half (51%) plan to buy one or more luxuries.

Given that the average Gen Xer has the highest household income and net worth of all the generations it would be wise for those who market to them to keep abreast of developments in this extremely valuable target market. Even as marketers cultivate and engage Millennials, they shouldn't ignore the Gen Xers — especially the upscale and affluent ones.

Tags: affluent, gen x
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