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Surefront Blog

Retailers Break the Mold by Targeting Gen X

Generation X shopping habits are rarely called into question. So, the need for accurate product data to target them is often overlooked. Generation X age range is between 43 to 58 years old. Born between 1965 and 1980, Gen X-ers are firmly sandwiched between headline-grabbing Boomers and Millennials. There’s a reason we call Gen X “the forgotten generation.”

While it’s true that Gen X doesn’t have Boomer’s megabuck spending power, they do reportedly spend over $80,000 a year. That’s a solid $20,000 more than the American average. Gen X actually spends more than any other generation. 

So, why are most publications still pretending that their wallet share doesn’t matter? Brands and retailers need to stop overlooking Gen X as if they’re a demographic that most companies can afford to ignore.

With that baseline in place, let’s take a look at the purchasing behavior of Gen X and how the right PIM can help you share the right product data to attract them. It’s high time we got serious about targeting “the forgotten generation.”

Generation X shopping habits 

Generation X, like every other generation, spend the lion’s share of their income on home payments and rent. Then we have fun stuff like healthcare, food, and transportation, respectively. For our purposes, however, discretionary spending is the most important category of Gen X purchasing behavior. 

The purchasing behavior of Gen X is driven by the hunt for quality. They’re looking for specific products, rather than product categories. Brands and retailers need the ability to share specific product data sets that pertain to the consumers they serve.

That’s where product information management (PIM) solutions -- aka digital asset management solutions or product data management tools -- become an essential asset to tap into time-strapped Gen X consumers wallet share. Before you can create customized marketing campaigns to reach Gen X, you need to get all the data in one place.

Let's talk spending categories

It can be hard to assess what falls into the “discretionary spending” category vs what falls under “essential retail.” In fact, many government officials spent much of the pandemic lockdowns unsuccessfully trying to do just that. So, we’ll assess Gen X discretionary spending by breaking down online spending categories. Here’s a ranked list of Gen X online spending categories from Oberlo:

  1. Electronics and Entertainment are tied for the lead (37% each)

  2. Clothing and shoes (32%)

  3. Leisure, sport, and hobby accessories (27%)

  4. Beauty and pharmaceutical goods (25%)

  5. Jewelry and accessories and Car parts and accessories (21% each)

  6. Groceries, Children’s Goods, and Home and garden (19% each)

Generation X shopping habits look a little different offline. Besides food and pharmaceuticals, Home and Garden takes the lead, with 44% of Gen Xers preferring to buy them in person. This is closely followed by: Clothing and shoes (39%), Beauty (37%), Jewelry and accessories and Car parts and accessories (36% each), and Electronics and Leisure, sport and hobby accessories (31% each). We will talk about what this means in a minute. 


Is Generation X adapting to millennials' shopping behavior?


Is Generation X adapting to millennials' shopping behavior?

Contrary to the popular narrative, Generation X is not just adapting to millennials shopping behavior. Gen X is their own demographic with their own unique priorities. How Gen X discovers products, the reasons they buy, their familial responsibilities and economic situation differ vastly from their younger cohorts. It’s a massive oversight to lump the two generations together… an oversight that could cost brands and retailers the wallet share of the biggest spending generation. 

It's true that both Gen X and millennials base their purchases on product descriptions and real world use cases found on companies' marketing channels. However, we need to debunk the narrative that Gen X is adapting to millennials’ shopping behavior. It’s simply not factual.

Gen X VS millennial shopping preferences

You know what is factual? This list of ways that Gen X and millennials’ shopping behavior differs, compiled with data from Hubspot’s “The State of Consumer Trends” report:

  • Discovery: Millennials prefer to discover products on multiple channels, including perusing product descriptions on social media, online ads and YouTube. Gen X also uses multiple channels, but they prefer to discover through search, tv ads, and physical stores. 

  • Social Issues: 41% of millennials experience customer satisfaction when companies take a stance on social issues, and 35% of Gen X agrees. However, a whopping 38% of Gen Xers don’t want companies to take a stance on social issues.


  • In-app Shopping: 28% of millennials made an in-app purchase from an ecommerce business within the 3 month study window; 18% of Gen X can say the same. 

  • Advertising: Millennials are most responsive to content from marketing teams, whereas Gen X doesn’t mind direct advertising from sales teams. 

  • Influencers: 28% of millennials prefer discovering new products through influencers; the same is only true for 14% of Gen X. 

The above data is by no means comprehensive. The social issues both demographics champion also vary significantly. As does the type of advertising they prefer. So, the answer is no. Gen X is not adapting to millennials’ shopping behavior. They have their own unique thing going on  –– which retail teams can tap into by adopting an efficient and accurate product information management system

Digital asset management for Gen X consumers

A quality PIM solution will help your sales and marketing teams provide relevant product data via your customers' preferred purchasing channel. eCommerce managers can use your PIM system to get the complex product data they need to create accurate product listings. on all of your sales channels.

Marketing teams can access accurate information on your products' key features to create relevant content for digital channels. It all starts by adopting a Product Information Management system that creates a single source of truth for all of your product data.


Product data quality motivates Gen X to buy

Product data quality motivates Gen X to buy

Now let’s talk about the purchasing behavior of Gen X. Gen X prefers physical stores, but that doesn’t mean that they have time to peruse them. In fact, 42% of Gen Xers discovered new products on social media in the past 3 months. Compare that to the 43% that discovered new products in-person. 

Many Gen Xers are at that pivotal time in their lives where they’re still taking care of their own teenage children, while also tending to aging parents. This helps explain why they’re spending more than any other generation –– the pharmaceutical purchases are for the whole family, not just the individual. It also explains why Home & Garden is a leading category for Gen X shoppers –– when one’s home is the meeting place for a large, multigenerational family, they want it to look the part. 

And what can we do with the fact that Gen X prefers in-store shopping, but obviously doesn’t have the time? Retailers need to plan for omnichannel product discovery to reach Gen X consumers. Don’t waste their time, provide value, and make finding essentials as easy as possible to tap into the forgotten generation’s massive spending power. 

PIM is essential to producing quality product data

Most Gen X shopping habits can be traced back to their need for a frictionless experience. But retail teams can’t provide customers with something they don’t have themselves. To provide time-strapped Gen Xers with a frictionless experience, you first need to achieve seamless collaboration on the back end.

You also need to understand how Gen X is reacting to your product data and images. As you’re looking at product mixes and how much to buy, you’ll need the ability to access the right product data to facilitate your merchandising process. You can’t achieve this when your product data, sales data, and technical data lives in disparate data silos.

The ability to consolidate multiple data sources is key. Manual data entry won't cut it -- you need a master data management system that creates a single source of truth for all of your product data. That’s where Surefront comes in

Unified PIM, PLM, CRM platforms maximize ROI

You don’t want your data to be siloed. Your company’s CRM, PIM and PLM solutions shouldn’t operate in a vacuum, either. Surefront is a Unified Product Collaboration Platform to power growth and ROI. Our patented PIM, CRM, and PLM solutions streamline the omni channel sales, merchandising and product development processes. By combining these essential functionalities, Surefront creates a single source of truth throughout your product lifecycle, sales and listing processes. 

The results? All product related data is in one place. Data errors are drastically reduced. Up to 150% more revenue per employee and a 40% shorter product development cycle is just the beginning. Try our 10x ROI calculator to see your company’s potential profits. Or, skip the noise and book a custom demo with one of our unified product collaboration management experts today. The retail industry evolves quickly and has a lot of moving parts. We do all of the research, so you don’t have to. Stay ahead of market fluctuations, trends and new features by subscribing to our Unified Product Collaboration Management Blog.