Do you see the quiet person in the fourth row with a slightly sullen expression on their face? Probably not – you're too busy paying attention to their outspoken compatriot who's sitting in front of them. Such is life for Gen Xers competing for attention with millennials.
Despite having been publicly part of the workforce and adult American community for several years now, millennials seem to still be the shiny new toy that businesses and marketers want to get, having disavowed all their other playthings. While it's definitely worth preparing for the future and the cresting wave of the millennial population, Gen X is still here, still active and deserving better than to be discarded. It's no wonder that when you Google "Why is Gen X," two of the top autocompletes are "why is Gen X ignored" and "why is Gen X forgotten."
There are a few key reasons why Gen X is worth engaging and devoting attention to, both from a business perspective and a marketing standpoint.
Gen Xers have more disposable income. Although our average debt is around the same as millennials', our average income is significantly higher – to the tune of around $15,000+ annually, per Experian. And we bounced back the best from the Great Recession, with Pew Research reporting that Gen X is the only generation that recovered wealth lost during that economic downturn. This equates to more spending, and the U.S. Department of Labor says Gen X is actually the highest-spending generation in terms of housing, clothing, eating out and entertainment. We're willing to pony up cash, we just need stuff to spend it on!
Gen Xers are better tech adopters. We lived through the transition to the Digital Age. We know the pain of busy signals, we fought the Dialup Wars, we're enjoying the benefits of the Smartphone Era. Based on the incredible change that happened during our formative years, Gen Xers are better-equipped to take on new technologies and incorporate them into our lives. At the same time, we haven't lost the interpersonal and communications skills we formed as kids when we actually spoke to each other, but we can post on Insta with the best of them. We're flexible that way.
Gen Xers are in decision-making positions. While Gen X may not be the largest population of the workforce anymore, we're still in prime position as middle-managers and executive leaders. We make many of the decisions for the companies we work for and the households we maintain. We help shape some of the perceptions, business mindsets and outlooks of those millennials we're bringing up through the ranks... as well as those Gen Z kids we're raising.
So next time you see that Gen Xer around, don't rush past them to talk to the millennial. We're willing to talk. We're willing to spend. We're willing to engage. After all, we showed up... so, here we are now – entertain us.