Gen X’s Underappreciated Shopping Power

Published : September 20, 2018

Everyone knows that the squeakiest wheel gets the grease. What people tend to forget, though, is that it’s not always the squeakiest wheel that holds the most power. Caught between the incredibly loud and squeaky generations of Millennials and Baby Boomers, Generation X is often overlooked and underserved, with the majority of marketing attention going to those two wheels that make the most noise. What remains to be seen, though, is how this generation will roll its rapidly accumulating dice.

If anyone wants a trip down memory lane, check out this Generation Next commercial from 1997. Gen X shopping habits are as varied as generation members themselves. Born between 1960s and the 1980s, they were raised in a primarily offline world and learned to adapt to a rapidly expanding online one. They’re equally at home online and in a brick and mortar retail store, and they have no trouble switching between the two spaces to get the service and prices they want. Gen Xers might love online shopping, but they’re also likely to meet up with friends and family members at local malls. This becomes especially true when a mall caters to their needs.

At the moment, most members of Generation X are somewhere between their late 30s and late 50s. Most of them are of an age to have at least one parent that’s getting on in years, a younger child they’re in the process of raising, or a young adult that they still financially support, if not some multiples of all of the above. This gives them unprecedented access to the squeaky wheel generations on either side of them: Millennials, who might still live at home or visit often, and Baby Boomers, some of whom are in a stage where they’re in need of care from their adult children.

Products Gen X’ers Love

Products that appeal to these luxury-loving Gen Xers will become aspirational products for their Millennial children, who remember what brands their parents were loyal to, or dream of eventually emulating their parents’ lifestyle, if not their parents’ lives. These same products can become more reminiscent ones for Baby Boomers who want to relive their glory days, and the same can be said, about both generations, for the places that Generation Xers prefer to visit.

If a shopping mall is appealing for more reasons than its retail stores, then it’s likely to draw in a slightly more diverse group of mall goers. If a shopping mall is appealing to¬†Gen Y shopping habits, then it’s more likely to draw in those children, Millennials or not, who decide to go to the mall with their parents, and those Baby Boomers, who might be tagging along on an outing, or going to enjoy the company of their children.

Gen X Retail & Online Shopping

Gen X’ers easily bridge the gap between those primarily online purchasers and the retail-only shoppers, and by doing so, offer both groups an opportunity to find common ground at the physical mall locations. As times change, certain aspects of brick and mortar stores are changing as well. Increasingly, people seem to expect a higher level of service in person, assuming that something they can’t get done online will be much more easily handled if they can communicate the issue face to face.

By providing that service that Baby Boomers expect from their own days on top of the heap (as far as buying power), it becomes easier to win over the brand-loyal members of Generation X. This approach also works on the Millennials. For them, everything relies on word of mouth, and treating their parents fairly and decently in person will encourage them to come into actual malls and work with the people there as well.

So while it might be true that the squeakiest wheel gets the grease, in this case, greasing the silent wheel gets two more wheels greased besides, builds brand loyalty that’s more than a generation deep, and can even potentially get more people invested in their local spaces, like shopping malls and nearby stores. That’s not half bad for one wheel’s work or a generation that’s been largely underrepresented in marketing.

While we know that Gen X’ers don’t love to be told where to shop or what to do, some of our most popular shops among the Gen X groups are below:



We invite you to come visit us and see all of our wonderful shops!

The Shops @Rockvale
35 South Willowdale Drive Suite 127 Lancaster, PA 17602

(717) 293-9292

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