Generation X — the missing ink?

As we compiled the many research reports that make up our cover feature, “Customer profiling,” I found myself wondering why no one ever talks about Generation X. It’s all about millennials and Latinos, and boomers and seniors; you never see any research on Gen X.

It’s almost like marketers couldn’t give a flying fig about Gen X. And I never really understood why. Until a colleague — another Gen Xer — sent me an article he had recently seen on MarketWatch, “10 things Generation X won’t tell you.”

Now I get it. As target-customers go, we just kind of suck.

First, there really aren’t enough of us to care about — just 49 million versus 75 million baby boomers and 89 million millennials, also known as Generation Y; millennials are so cool, they even get two nicknames.

Second, we’re broke. We went to work in the wake of the market crash of 1987 and the recession of the early ‘90s; we may have made some money during the Clinton years, but we lost it all in the tech bubble, or the housing bubble, or the recessions that followed both.

But let’s face it, it’s not like the economy conspired to punish Gen X exclusively. “The recession hit just as many boomers were about to retire, and many postponed it due to the slump in their portfolios,” Market-Watch noted. Four-out-of-10 boomers don’t expect to retire until they are at least 66, and 10% more say they don’t ever expect to retire, according to a recent Gallup poll.

About half of all Gen Xers say they are behind in saving for retirement, according to a 2013 MetLife survey. “Generation X could be the first [generation] that will have downward mobility in retirement,” Diana Elliott, research officer at The Pew Charitable Trusts, told MarketWatch.

So, if you’re wondering where the Gen X shopper research is in this issue, what can I tell you? Just call us the “Missing Ink.”

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