Commentary

Why The Affluent Gen X Shouldn't Be Put Into A Corner

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, August 29, 2017

There’s an affluent group that shouldn’t be getting the short end of the marketing stick — the nearly five million affluent American Gen X (aged 39 - 52). According to our Affluent Perspective Global Study, affluent Gen Xers generate 31% of the affluent spending across the eight categories monitored — everything from vacations and home furnishings to clothes and dining. 

Affluent Gen X households earn on average $321,000, 23% more than affluent millennials and on a par with affluent boomers. It takes a lot of work for those in Gen X to earn their place among the affluent. These two income households juggle the demands of executive/managerial positions within large corporations with the time and financial commitments associated with raising a family. Twenty-one percent have college age kids — and with the average cost for a private university around $33,500 per year and housing costs on average at $2,400 per month, it’s no wonder Gen X are the most stressed (26%) of affluent groups. Fifty-four percent of Gen Xers want to simplify their lives, and an equal number want to spend more time with their families. 

Unlike their affluent millennial counterparts, the majority of affluent Gen Xers didn’t grow up affluent, so it’s not surprising they like to reward themselves. They’ve worked their way up the corporate ranks and into the luxury category. On the way, they’ve become avid luxury consumers who are 36% more likely than affluent millennials to purchase luxury across multiple categories. 

In order to win their business, marketers need to curb the temptation to lump Gen X in with boomers or millennials. While in some ways the older Gen X cohort acts a bit boomer and the younger Gen X acts a bit millennial,  they have their own identity as a group. 

Gen Xers are likely to describe themselves as practical, rational, and independent. There’s nearly unanimous agreement (93%) among affluent Gen Xers to the statement, “I’ve earned the right to the things I have.” This sentiment is a key reason why they view luxury as a link to their business success — 60% agree that luxury brands reflect a certain level of professional achievement and 48% believe purchasing luxury is a true measure of success. 

The Gen X affinity for luxury also stems from an appreciation for the high level of service associated with luxury brands. Like the affluent as a whole, Gen Xers appreciate the quality that luxury affords them. However, service stands out with this group as a highly valued aspect of the luxury experience — affluent Gen X will pay more for a seamless service experience.  

Their independent nature makes them a tough group to win over. 85% of Gen Xers agree that it’s hard to win their loyalty, more than any other generation. For many, purchase decisions are not based on brand, but by other factors that relate to their sensible nature such as price (58%) and product performance (45%). 

Getting your share of the lucrative Gen X market doesn’t have to be that tough. Appeal to their desire to be recognized for their success. Respect their need to save time and to simplify. Resist the urge to rest on brand prowess and focus instead on their rational tendencies. Giving them the undivided attention they deserve and focusing on what’s uniquely important to them will do the trick.

1 comment about "Why The Affluent Gen X Shouldn't Be Put Into A Corner".
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  1. Ron Kurtz from American Affluence Research Center, August 29, 2017 at 4:47 p.m.

    The affluent Gen X market segment is probably the sweet spot of the affluent (top 10% in net worth) and luxury (top 1% in net worth) markets. They are at an age where they are still acquiring material things as well as travel and other experiences. The first few years of the boomer market would fit in this group also. 

    Like most affluent, who are self made millioniares, they need to be educated about the value and differentiation of true luxury products and brands. The other possible appeals are secondary. 


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