Boomer / neXt Finds Vanguard of Generation X Fortified at FiftyBOULDER, CO – 10-05-2017 (Press Release Jet) — In 1979, when the first of the population cohort designated “Generation X” was 14 years old, The Kids Are Alright, a rockumentary film about the English rock band The Who was released. A chronicle of musical might and bad behavior, the rocker movie ran along the same track that society would soon assign to those Gen X teenagers: undisciplined, alienated, overshadowed.

For The Who, the shadows were thrown by the Beatles and Stones; for the Gen Xers it was initially the Baby Boomers and then the Millennials who captured the spotlight. But thanks in part to a fascination with new technology – The Who with synthesizers, Generation X with early PCs and video games – both groups of alienated outcasts made it through. The kids were all right after all.

However, a recent offering from Boomer / neXt, Generation X: eXiles on Main Street? finds the Xers never totally escaped the disparaging labels of their youth. Since they started turning 50 in 2015, they have been steadily dismissed by advertisers fixated on the 18-49 demographic. According to Marc Matthews, partner in Boomer / neXt and co-author of the study, “In their teens and twenties Gen Xers were tagged as slackers in the business of life, and today most mainstream brands treat them as slackers in the life of their businesses.”

Matthews notes that by the end of 2017 over 13 million members of Generation X, born 1965-1967, and in their peak earning years, will have crossed the 50+ threshold and, now officially considered to be part of the “aging population,” will disappear from Madison Avenue’s targeting radar.  As a result, the white paper reports older Gen Xers become disconnected from everyday brands at the same time they enter the world’s 3rd largest, most vibrant economy.  There are 110+ million Americans over 50 who control 80% of all U.S. household assets and purchase over half the country’s goods and services, but this population only has 10% of advertising dollars directed their way.

Outside the healthcare and wealthcare industries, youth-obsessed marketers and advertisers have little use for these high-spenders. According to Matthews, “because Adland and Marketville have very different demographic profiles – the average ad agency creative person is under thirty, but the median head of household is around fifty – it makes authentic brand engagement a real challenge.”

The Boomer / neXt analysis finds that disrespecting Gen X presents a growing threat to brand competitiveness in the near future because of this population’s rapidly increasing its influence in the 50+ American consumer space. In 2017, Baby Boomers outnumber Xers over fifty by 75 million to 13 million, but by 2030 these sibling generations will see nearly identical respective populations, at 61 million and 59 million.

The study also identified three entrenched myths stand in the way of changing brand decision-maker attitudes:

  • A false sense that 50+ ushers in an age of blind brand loyalty; switching ceases to occur
  • This population is easy to reach and engage via conventional media; no need to be bold with targeting
  • Turning to the 50+ crowd means turning off the all-important Millennials in a zero-sum game of allocation

Generation X: eXiles on Main Street? includes data from an online survey of 510 consumers aged 50-71 that disproves the myth that Boomers and older Gen Xers are closed-minded about switching brands and trying new products.  The survey found that the vast majority (86%) enjoy learning about and trying new brands and that over two-thirds (70%) are always on the lookout for new brands to try.

Matthews advises clients to remember that while Gen Xers are still guided to some extent by their early lives, they are now mature adults entering their peak earning and peak power years. The key to brand engagement is to blend past, present and a fast-approaching future without falling into meritless stereotypes – whether these focus on latchkey or slacker clichés from the 1980s and 1990s or tall tales about sudden irrelevance due to turning 50.

Some key takeaways from the Generation X: eXiles on Main Street?  report:

  • Generation X grew up unsupervised, independent and decidedly anti-establishment, yet they shared in the constantly evolving world – technology, social progress and globalization – that the Boomers also embraced. 
  • Upon entering the workforce, Xers brought an entrepreneurial mindset to Corporate America, technological fluency, prioritization of work/life balance and a premium placed on individuality.
  • Now entering the leadership roles of the C-suite, this generation is the innovative force behind today’s workplace trends.  For example, the average age of a CEO announcing a headquarters relocation is 52.
  • A whopping 55% of startup founders are part of Gen X.
  • They are social media savvy: a recent report from Nielsen found Generation X spends almost 7 hours a week on social media, more than Millennials, aged 18-34, who spend about 6 hours weekly with social media.
  •  According to the National Association of Realtors ® 2017 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study, Generation X suffered more than any other age cohort from the housing bust – though a new survey suggests Gen X home buyers are finally seeing their housing fortunes improving. 
  • Far from slouching along as surly slackers, Generation X is becoming the epitome of the American family; while it has taken Xers a while to settle down, build lives and raise children of their own, they are finally in positions to lead a secure and successful second half of life.
  • It is foolish for brands to write Gen Xers off just because they are moving out of the 18-49 demo; rigid adherence to old rules will not resonate with C Suite decision-makers now in the same stage of life.

About Boomer / neXt

Boomer / neXt, with offices in Boulder and New York City, is a leading consultancy which focuses on the 111 million Americans who are currently 50 years of age and older.  Boomer / neXt provides strategic planning, research-based insights and consultative services to clients in industries that want to understand and unleash the power of this population, which includes the totality of the Baby Boom generation.  For more information on Boomer / neXt and its services, please connect via

Media Contacts:

Company Name: Boomer / neXt
Phone: 917.623.3933
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About the Author: Carrie Brunner

Carrie Brunner grew up in a small town in northern New Brunswick. She studied chemistry in college, graduated, and married her husband one month later. They were then blessed with two baby boys within the first four years of marriage. Having babies gave their family a desire to return to the old paths – to nourish their family with traditional, homegrown foods; rid their home of toxic chemicals and petroleum products; and give their boys a chance to know a simple, sustainable way of life. They are currently building a homestead from scratch on two little acres in central Texas. There’s a lot to be done to become somewhat self-sufficient, but they are debt-free and get to spend their days living this simple, good life together with their five young children. Carrie writes mostly on provincial stories.
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