We were the generation once labeled "slackers," detached and melancholic. Now that most of us are flirting with forty, reality doesn't bite nearly as much it seemed when we were younger. According to the "The Generation X Report," from the University of Michigan's Longitudinal Study of American Youth, there are a number of myths can be corrected with the latest data.
Who are the Gen X-ers?
We were born from 1964 to 1981. (Some argue that 1961 is the year that X starts - but most experts indicate that we start at about 1964 and 1965)
Shift The Damn Spotligtht Already!
As the cultural spotlight gradually shifts away from retiring Baby Boomers, the analysis bolsters findings in a recent marketing study from JWT Intellegence, "Gen X: Flirting With 40,"(embeded below) which stated that Gen X has matured into a group of "technologically savvy, adventurous pragmatists." Recent media coverage of rants and reflections from Gen Xers in Gizmodo and The Atlantic has also generated intense discussion, fueling debate over whether a passing of the torch from Boomers is under way. This debate is making the case for marketers to shift their budgets from traditional methods of marketing.
Let's Dispell Some Gen X Myths
Myth #1: Gen Xers are slackers.
Reality: Generation X devotes more hours to work than average and pursues continuing education.
- Compared to a national sample of all U.S. adults, Gen Xers are more likely to be employed and are working significantly more hours above average, according to the study. In Generation X, 86% is employed and 70% devote 40 or more hours to work each week. For those holding a doctorate or professional degree, that number shoots up to 50 or more hours. Also, 79% Gen X women work.
- Kids from "The Breakfast Club" era weren't so strung out on emotional issues that they passed up learning: Half of Gen Xers have completed a post-secondary degree and 9% are enrolled in continuing education.
Myth #2: Generation X is hopelessly single and pessimistic about marriage.
Reality: A higher percentage of Gen Xers stay married than Boomers, and most want to be married.
- Having spent their formative years in the era of growing divorce rates (divorce peaked in 1980) might lead to speculation that Gen X would run away from marriage en masse. In reality, two-thirds of Generation X is married and 71% report having children in the home. Additionally, divorce has been declining since 1996, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
- 83% of Gen Xers said finding the right person to marry and having a happy family life is very important.
Myth #3: Generation Xers are disengaged, existential isolationists.
Reality: Gen X is social.
- There's a reason Gen X is called the "Friends" generation. The report states that Gen X has extensive social, occupational and community networks outside of the immediate family. Two-thirds of respondents entertain friends for dinner or participate in group cooking at least once a month.
- One in 3 Gen Xers is an active member of a church or religious organization, and 29% volunteer in their community.
- 95% of Gen Xers report talking with friends or family on the telephone at least once a week, and 29% say they do so at least once a day.
Myth #4: As former latch-key kids, Gen Xers are wimpy, neglectful parents.
Reality: About 84% of Gen X parents expect their children to earn at least a baccalaureate, and 39% expect their child to earn a graduate or professional degree.
- 72% of parents of preschool children read to them three or more hours a week, and 83% of parents of secondary school students help with homework.
Myth #5: Generation X is depressed.
Reality: Generation X is actually pretty happy.
- Two-thirds of Generation X are satisfied with their job; 24% of these workers rated their job at 9 or 10 on the satisfaction scale.
- On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 meaning very happy, the median happiness score was 8, with 29% of Gen Xers saying they were very happy scoring a 9 or 10.
As we, the 45 million strong, have been sandwhiched in between the Boomers and Millennials, we are the generation that can move from the shot gun position into the driver seat of the economy. (Shhhh... I think we may be the Job creators the politicians are taking about.) We have a much more balanced approach and we are pragmatic as hell.
Given that we are technologically savvy, adventurous pragmatists, How will marketers motivate us to consider using their products and services? Since we are NOT keeping up with Jones like the Boomers, what stories will you tell us to motivate new behaviors?
This report from JWT may give you a glimpse into the opportunities that you may have with Gex Xers:
- All Single Ladies: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/11/all-the-single-ladies/8654/
- Generation X is Sick of Your Bullshit: http://gizmodo.com/5851062/generation-x-is-sick-of-your-bullshit
- The Generation X Report: http://lsay.org/GenX-1Report.pdf
- CNN: Gen X is Balanced & Happy: http://www.cnn.com/2011/10/26/living/gen-x-satisfied/index.html
- Gen X: The Ignored Generation: http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1731528,00.html