Make Way for Gen X MacroMonitor Marketing Report Vol. VI, No. 8 April 2004

Generation X—the generation born between 1963 and 1976—has not received the same level of marketing attention that the preceding Boomer generation received (and continues to receive) because of the latter's immense market size. Gen X comprises some 57 million adults, compared with more than 70 million Boomers. But as the larger market of Boomers edges into retirement and subsequent wealth disbursement, Gen X will increasingly account for the large chunk of high-earning wealth accumulators.

The MacroMonitor estimates that some 29 million U.S. households have a GenX primary head. (In comparison, we estimate more than 39 million households with a Boomer primary head.) These younger Gen X households are settling down into the rhythm of the life-stage process: buying their first homes, raising children, and climbing up the corporate or entrepreneurial ladder. This MacroMonitor report highlights reasons why financial marketers should pay more attention to the Generation X market segment:
  • Gen X households are well educated. Four in ten Gen X primary heads have at least a college degree, compared with just 31% of Boomers primary heads and 30% of primary heads of U.S. households overall. This higher education assures the potential for what the U.S. Census Bureau refers to as "the big payoff" (that is, historically, people with a college education earn significantly more in a lifetime than do people who have less education).
  • Half of Gen X household heads are already in high-paying professional, technical, or managerial positions.
  • Although Gen X households currently account for just 13% of the total Affluent population, they constitute 20% of the Mass Affluent and more than one-third of the Emerging Affluent markets.
By establishing and solidifying relationships with Generation X now, a financial institution increases the likelihood that it will be the provider of choice for these households' future wealth-management needs. To target this market successfully, marketers and product developers need to consider two key characteristics of Generation X: the cohort's diversity and the cohort's technological sophistication. The 2000 Census revealed Generation X as more ethnically diverse than older generations because of recent immigration waves and higher birthrates among minorities. The MacroMonitor data, meanwhile, show Gen X households as more likely than Boomers and the average U.S. household to use the Internet to obtain all types of financial products. Understanding the psychology and financial needs and expectations of Gen X will enable financial institutions to be more competitive in attracting and retaining this upcoming important market.


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