According to 2015 reports on home furniture trends, Generation (Gen) X, while small in number compared to the population of Baby Boomers and Millennials (Gen Y), has demonstrated strong purchasing power in recent years. The group purchased 43 percent more furniture in 2014 than it did in 2012. Gen X also accounted for $31.8 billion in revenue in the furniture industry in 2014, which equates to a third of all sales. To ensure that your business does not miss an opportunity to market to this crowd of more than 66 million consumers, here are a handful of the most important characteristics you should know about Gen Xers.
The generation encompasses people roughly between the ages of 35 and 50, or those born between the years 1965 and 1980. This represents the definition used by Pew Research Center and Bridgeworks, a firm specializing in generational dynamics.
Gen Xers are looking to purchase homes and create families. Regardless of their spending habits, which involves purchasing more consumer goods than older generations, they value savings, and have established and contributed to retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s. In addition, they have designated savings accounts to ensure the well-being of their children. This includes funding their children’s post-secondary education through a 529 or tax-advantaged college savings plan. Having witnessed economic volatility firsthand, Gen Xers are more like to have an emergency fund than Millennials.
This group holds the highest employment rate of any generation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While pursuing more education meant that Gen X started to earn money later in life than previous generations, they have enjoyed a growth in job opportunities throughout their working lives that has made it possible for them to earn more. In fact, despite having more student debt than older generations, Gen X earns an estimated $12,000 more than their parents did at the same age. The amount, drawn from a report released by Pew Charitable Trusts in September 2014, takes into consideration inflation and change in household sizes. However, less than 50 percent of Gen Xers have greater wealth than their parents, perhaps because the higher cost of college has created greater student loan burdens that cut into their savings. In terms of investments, this generation aims to avoid fees by regularly reallocating investment funds. They also are more knowledgeable of their risk tolerance. Of the total US adult population, Gen X holds around 29 percent of total net worth dollars and earns nearly a third of total income dollars.
While Baby Boomers are downgrading their homes as they age out of the workforce and retire, Gen Xers are heavily focused on making a comfortable home for themselves. Depending on the individual, the importance of owning a home may be related to growth in family or job relocation. Purchasing a home in an area with a good school district is the ideal. Gen Xers are more likely to stay in their homes for a decade before relocating. Homes typically are larger in size and hold a higher price tag. In 2014, 27 percent of home purchases were made by Gen Xers with a median age of 41.
Many members of Gen X believe that job security comes from being their own boss. This is reflected in a report released by Sage, an organization that supports entrepreneurs. The 2015 report recognized that more than half of new businesses were launched by Gen Xers. Instead of hoping to find employment, this generation shows a willingness to take control of the future by investing in their careers. This gives them an opportunity to succeed in professions they are passionate about.
Gen X was the first generation to be defined by its heavy use of technology. This group craves information and relies on themselves to solve personal challenges with the aid of the Internet. Before heading to the store to buy a product or service, they search for more information online that will allow them to make an informed decision. Information about specific products and merchants is sourced through reviews and recommendations. Gen X consumers are also looking to compare prices, see pictures, and explore social media activity. Online “window shopping” must offer easy navigation to encourage a sale as well.
Gen Xers have been labeled as skeptics for their unwillingness to accept things at face value. As such, they may be less receptive to traditional sales pitches or gimmicks than other generations. Gen Xers tend to make purchasing decisions based on research and have more appreciation for companies that offer transparency in their practices and products. Gen Xers also want a knowledgeable sales person to answer their questions, act as a helpful resource, and assist in their purchase. They do not want someone to simply sell something to them. As such, those selling a product or service to a person of this generation should anticipate questions and be prepared to respond with accurate information.