Zeroing in on Generation X

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Following on the heels of the Baby Boomers, Generation X has big shoes to fill. After all, as the largest demographic group in U.S. history, Baby Boomers have garnered a lot of attention. Now it's time to focus on Generation X.

Just who is Generation X?

Of the almost 300 million people in the United States, about 50 million are ages 26 to 41-or Generation X. This group makes up about 20 percent of the population and represented an estimated $1.4 trillion in spending power in 2004. Members of Generation X are sandwiched between the Baby Boomers (born from 1946 to 1964) and Generation Y (born from 1981 to 1994).

Reaching Generation X with your marketing message is going to take a bit of understanding. You won't get anywhere marketing to them with the same offers and messages you use for the Baby Boomers. Instead, you need to recognize the different types of individuals who make up Generation X.

Meet the Gen Xers

Extensive research and analyses have been done on Generation X. From these we know a great deal about their behaviors and preferences, such as entertainment tendencies, travel patterns, banking habits, vehicle preferences, health habits, consumer behaviors and more.

From the analyses, 11 cohesive consumer types within the 35 million Generation X households have been identified. These include four married segments, four single-female segments and three single-male segments. Each has different age, income and behavioral characteristics. Once you recognize the unique consumer types within Generation X, you can develop more successful marketing campaigns that deliver the right message to the right segment.

Delivering the right message means two things: First, that you choose the right channel and second, you tailor your message to each segment within Generation X.

The Internet is a good channel for reaching Gen Xers. For example, educated workingwomen tend to be most responsive to messages that emphasize their hot buttons, such as self-improvement and traveling. On the other hand, young families would be more likely to respond to messages about home, family and convenience.

And since the Internet is their playground, be sure to utilize search engine optimization techniques in your marketing mix. Traditional media can also help drive Gen Xers to your Web site. For example, marketers who are trying to reach energetic young guys would do well to advertise on ESPN or in Men's Health magazine.

As nearly every company is trying to gather e-mail addresses, marketers can take advantage of a great opportunity with Gen Xers, who are the most likely people to provide their e-mail addresses. They also have a higher propensity for click-through if you send them an e-mail.

Whether Gen X customers actually make their purchases in person, online or by telephone, they're probably using the Internet to research their options.

Planning for Generation X trends

These are children of the technical age. They want, demand and expect you to provide the latest products and services. This means you've got to position your company at the leading edge and offer services of interest to this generation.

Second, because they are younger, the lifetime value of Generation X households is likely to be much greater than that of Boomer households-so win-back and retention programs are particularly important for this group.

Armed with an understanding of all the different groups of people within Generation X, you'll be able to target the right offer and the right message to the right people, using the right medium. And once you learn to tap into this demographic, your marketing opportunities will expand dramatically.

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