Gen X Is More Than The Sum Of Its Parts, British Firm Finds

Proximity Worldwide, a global direct and relationship marketing network that is part of BBDO Worldwide, has divided Generation X into three groups: the first suggests characters from a Richard Linklater film about slackers; the second wouldn't be caught dead watching that film unless their fashion sense depended on it and it was available for viewing on HD; and the third is too busy force-feeding their kids Mandarin lessons and piano to take time out for a flick.

Although the first group doesn't trust, like, or want anything to do with big multinational "corporate" brands, it also doesn't have a terrific amount of influence over the other groups, per the firm. "They pretty much keep to themselves," says Christine Armstrong, head of communications for the firm.

The firm's study of 30-somethings comprises 5,208 people in 18 countries, including the UK and U.S., all born between 1967 and 1977. The study dubbed the first group "Cruisers"--essentially drifters living on the edge of the mainstream and out to have fun (think of your brain; now think of your brain post-college, pre-employment).



The firm calls the more-settled second group "Nesters" and describes them as fashion-conscious seekers of creature comforts into spending on home design.

The last group is "Super-breeders," people focused on their children and getting them into sugar-free organic food and Harvard.

The first group, per the firm, "Can't stand Thatcher, the Pope or McDonald's and are skeptical about Starbucks." They see home as a place to sleep and like independent, urban and specialist brands.

Nesters' heroes are Madonna, Audrey Hepburn and ET, according to the firm. They like to think they are free-thinking, and "they'd be happy to have a gay child and love city living. They like aspirational brands," per the firm. "They are much more focused on family and friends, social groups, neighborhood and homes," says Armstrong, who adds that they are into brands like Ikea, Amazon, and Apple.

Super-breeders protect the kids from the likes of sugar, television, the Internet, chemicals and junk food. "They will stop at nothing to give their kids a competitive boost. Their buzzwords are organic, fresh, local, free-range, recyclable, environmentally friendly, green and sustainable."

Armstrong says the Gen X groups are more similar to each other than any of them are to 20-somethings and Boomers. "We found that people in their 20s are very success-focused, particularly when it comes to brand and image. Baby Boomers very worried about money; they are more conservative," says Armstrong.

About 72% of Gen X respondents said they were under a good deal of stress, and 65% said they "actively look for things to do, and love being busy. "But they are--all three groups--very marketing-savvy and maintain emotional distance from brand; and they love a sense of irony."

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