Jane Tries to Go Shopping
Jane Tackles Neurons

Jane Tallies Up a Gen X Fit by Five

Gen X, those fabulous young women with mothers who suffered through countless abuses in the workplace, are prime targets for all manner of products and services, today.

Gen X, those spoiled, had-it-all young women who are starting to check the mirror for crow's feet, all the while mouthing platitudes about accepting aging as a normal life process, even laughing at their mother's questions on whether or not they're worried about taking time off to procreate.

Gen X, those strong, capable, intelligent young women of today -- who are more in the driver's seat than they know.

Let's look more closely at this demographic. This youthful and vigorous young woman who learned to adapt to the Internet quickly, and who now cruises around on it as easily as her mother cruised along those vast expressways that sprung up during the 60s and 70s, connecting suburbia to the inner city.

In March, Jane cut an article out of our local paper -- "Young women are snared in midlife crises early," the headline said. The story was about a book...titled, "Midlife Crisis at 30." While we found ourselves nodding in agreement over the information in the article, underneath our recognition of the truth as presented by Lia Macko and Kerry Rubin, our alter-ego was saying, "Ha! Now they'll see what we've been trying to tell them for twenty years!" For instance, the stats in the article show, "Today, the average college-educated bride is 28. In the 1960s, she was 22." And, "Over the last 30 years, the number of single women 30-34 has tripled." Plus, "More women start therapy at 30 than at any other times in their lives."

Many of the women you are selling to are in this tender group, dear reader. These are Jane's daughters. They have issues. Note this excerpt from the book, honestly written by the authors: "Unlike the women at the luncheon (and our own mothers), we've never been the only woman in the room, and no one has ever asked us about our typing skills or sent us to fetch them a cup of coffee."

Which led us to wonder if the writers have ever been out of....wherever it is they live. If they bothered to talk to any 'real' young women. Jane knows many, many young women in the Gen X demographic who would heartily disagree with that sentence.

Suffice it to say, like all labels put on women, the Gen X label does not describe ALL young women in that age group. That they are, and continue to be, influenced by their mothers, is an undisputable fact. That they are also as diverse and unlike their mothers, is also fact. In order to get a handle on how this group thinks, what they want and how you can try to appeal to them, let's look at their homing instincts. Let's get inside their heads -- where they live, and see how different they are, and how those differences translate into marketing to women online.

In the Real Estate section of our local D&C, this article, "Gen Xers like big homes," caught our eye yesterday. We find it fascinating...and helpful in assessing the wants and needs of this tech-driven group. Here are Five Must-Haves the article says Gen X families won't do without in their new homes:

1. Space: This group values having enough room to invite friends, relatives, and neighbors in for backyard barbecues, or family reunions. In the event that Mother Nature has put a damper on things, they want enough room to house two or more families. Jane says: community; this group values a community approach and want it to begin at home, in their basement.

2. Media rooms: This is a group of high-tech, big screen TV, loud music, happy days kind of kids. Kids that are all grown up but not willing to let go of their toys. Baby Boomers reveled in the passage of adulthood that said put away things of your childhood and adopt a serious demeanor. Jane says: baby boomers let their cars speak for them. Gen Xers are letting their multi-media rooms speak for them.

3. Lifestyles: Jerry Howard, chief executive officer of the National Association of Home Builders, says, "Gen Xers...are techno-savvy and more likely to be house-shopping on the Internet. They have strong awareness of all their options." Jane says: Are you giving your Gen X visitors options? They not only want options, they expect options. Be aware, and be fair.

4. Four Bedrooms and high ceilings: No, they don't all have five or six children, and they aren't any taller than their parents. But, the majority of Gen X families want at least 4 bedrooms in their homes, and they prefer ceilings 7 feet or higher. Again, their goal is to have room for visitors. Jane says: Appeal to their family-centered approach to life. Folks who shell out the $$ for big homes such as these, also need insurance, maintenance, housekeeping, a good account, furnishings, add-ons -- the list is endless. Surely, you have something they need...or you can partner with another company to provide something this group needs...since they have reached that summit where needs are wants, and we know people (all people) buy what they want...not what they need.

5. Flexibility: The article notes that, "Young buyers don't want to pay for space they don't use. Maybe their elders always wanted a dining room, but their idea is, 'Can my house be flexible enough to accommodate everyday meal needs?' " Jane says: It's just like the commercial for Healthy Choice TV meals. The one where the Dad, bless his little heart, is home with the kids and the little girl, bless her little heart, repeatedly says, "Mommy doesn't do it like that." Until he serves dinner -- three Healthy Choice meals, whereupon the daughter smiles and says, "You did one thing right, Dad." This last scene takes place on the living room sofa, in front of the TV. Jane would like to ask, What is the world coming to -- eating dinner on the sofa in front of the TV -- but we are going to keep our mouth closed lest one of our children read this and remark that we have been doing just that for...a long time, now.Genxcouple

Jane hopes you take this in carefully, dear reader. The adult children of baby boomers are a group to be reckoned with. Treat them well. They will hit the clicker and be out of your site before your cookies even know they've been there, if you deceive them, if you waste their time, if you don't know them, and if you don't give them options. Yes, these are dual income families, which means the young women you're selling to may also be responsible for what gets into the supply cabinet at work, or where to cater the next company luncheon, or who to call for customer gifts...we hope you get the drift -- that home and work overlap.

What's not to like about that?


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Sabina Gargiulo

I have just produced and developed a once in a lifetime conference on marketing to women. I would like you to visit www.iirusa.com/women for more information on this event. Anyone interested in registering from this blog will receive a 15% discount. Please e-mail me directly in order to register. Thanks and I hope to see you there!

Maria Niles

Terrific post! I think you really nailed the emotions driving these needs and offered great insight on how to market well to Gen X women and beyond. Good advice for all marketers.

N Kelly

It's me you're talking about. The space thing also has to do with the fact that we often live far from family and friends and we have to be prepared for them to spend more than an evening at family dinner.

Joy Des Jardins

This is a great piece Yvonne. I certainly related to it...big time. I recognized aspects of one or the other of my kids lives while reading it. Thanks so much....

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