Data-Centric Digital Media & Email Marketing

Spending Across the Generations: How Gen Xers Shop


The process of understanding shoppers is a critical one. Knowledge about who is shopping, what is important to them, and how they buy is of enormous value. To help, we created the Spending Across the Generations series to help marketers take advantage of current opportunities. This post discusses the spending habits of Gen Xers.

Who is a Gen Xer?

Gen X was born after Baby Boomers and they preceded Millennials. Attention on Gen X is frequently – and wrongly – lost due to the size of the other two, larger generational cohorts.  While it’s necessary to cater to the needs of both younger and older groups, understanding the shopping patterns and influences for Gen X is equally critical.

Growing up, Gen Xers saw a lot. They lived through the energy crisis, the Chernobyl disaster, the Challenger disaster, and other significant events. They have watched the rise of MTV, the PC, video games, cable television, the internet, and e-mail.

Ignore Gen X at Your Peril

Gen X wields significant buying power. They are now in their prime earning years. This generation currently makes up 31% of the total US income, even though they only comprise 25% of the population.

Generation X has a higher-than-average household income and wields considerable spending power totaling $2.4 trillion. According to the US Department of Labor, Gen X outspends all other generations when it comes to housing, clothing, eating out, and entertainment.

When it comes to spending on key categories, Gen X spends (on average) $6,137 annually at retail, $3,414 on travel, and $1,555 on financial services.

They spend with haste.

The mantra of Gen X shoppers could very well be “Keep it Simple and Make it Easy.” Gen X appreciates honest and transparent marketing messages.

As with most shoppers, they value a fast checkout experience that allows them to keep moving (this is true on or offline).

They value email marketing over social media.

While most Gen X shoppers are on social media, they are much more influenced by email marketing campaigns. 92% of Gen-X respondents say they have used email in the past month.

They are brand loyal…if rewards are involved.

As with other generations, Gen X is receptive to loyalty and rewards programs. Forbes reports that 88% of Gen Xers join loyalty programs to save money. Reward programs are popular, too; 71% of Gen Xers appreciate receiving rewards.

They research online and buy in-store.

More likely to conduct online research and then shop in person, Gen Xers are more likely to seek out a specific brand. A few stats to illustrate this behavior:

  • 82% of Gen Xers buy in-store at least monthly.
  • 50% of Gen Xers are more likely than younger generations to research before they buy.
  • Gen Xers are less likely than Gen Zers and Millennials to be influenced by personal recommendations and online reviews.

Gen Xers live hectic lives as they try to balance family, work, and other commitments. Lost between Baby Boomers and Millennials, they are the Sandwich Generation, many still having children to care for while also helping older parents navigate retirement and old age.

Remembering this generation as you prepare your marketing plan will go a long way.