First, college-radio pioneers R.E.M. announced their retirement. Next, MTV President Stephen Friedman, when discussing programming changes, proclaimed, “We needed to let go of Generation X so we could own the Millennials.”
Et tu, Moonman?
The build-up of economic pressures and kicks possibly contributed to last week’s faster-than-you-can-say-Atari viral dissemination of Mat Honan’s “Generation X Doesn’t Want to Hear It.” Honan, a senior reporter for Gizmodo, penned a part-lament, part-scolding from the group many dub the “wrong place, wrong time” kids. In the end, he concludes, Gen-Xers are tired and just want to be left alone to enjoy a beer.
The smallest generation, with approximately 46 million, those born between 1965 and 1978 seem almost forgotten in the current economic saga. Once again a latchkey child, they go home to occupy their sofa, recalculate their post-bully entertainment allowance, and make their own peanut-butter and jelly sandwich.
However, marketers and entrepreneurs shouldn’t lose sight of this group among the louder Boomers and Millennials. This generation may just hold the greatest workforce and consumer shifts we’ve seen in awhile.
The Center For Work-Life Policy’s September release of “The X Factor: Tapping into the Strengths of the 33 to 46-Year-Old Generation” revealed huge Gen-X findings, including …
• 91 percent of women and 68 percent of men are part of dual-income couples
• 36 percent of women earn more than their spouses
• nearly a third of high-income earners work 60+ hours a week
• 43 percent claim student-loan debt influenced their career choices, while 74 percent cite credit-card debt
• workers expect to stay on the job an average of nine years longer than anticipated
• the real jaw-dropper: 43 percent of women and 32 percent of men do not have children
This generation, which has already witnessed three recessions, the housing bubble, layoffs, outsourcing and multiple consolidations, stands poised to redefine aging. Retirement will often be later and female-controlled, with fewer heirs and memories of now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t income. They are educated and know how to assimilate, but feel their youthful rebellion was snatched away by the kid refusing to look up from his smartphone while crossing in front of their aging SUVs.
Never underestimate the quiet ones. The game-changing status they longed for may still be ahead.