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Generation X Females Trend Analysis


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This is a trend analysis I completed for my Consumer Insights and Account Planning course taught by Professor Carolyn E. Clark.

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Generation X Females Trend Analysis

  1. 1. Valletta 1 Julia Valletta Professor Clark CM 412 A1 12 November 2014 Generation X Females; Solving for X Each generation is different from the next. Veterans vary from Baby Boomers, and Generation X contrasts with Millennials; every group motivated by different values, communication styles and work ethics. As with most generation labels, “Generation X” is a laden term, first coined by Douglas Coupland, author of the book Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture (Stephey). Coupland suggested the letter "X" was meant to signify the generation's random, ambiguous, and contradictory ways (Stephey). Generation X—Gen X for short—is bookended by two much larger generations, the Baby Boomers ahead and the Millennials behind, which are particularly different from each other. Thus, individuals born between 1960 and 1980 have collectively come to be described as “a low-slung, straight- line bridge between two noisy behemoths (Taylor and Gao).” However, Gen X is much more than a middleman or a stepping-stone between generational giants, but instead plays a crucial role in marketing and advertising today. This paper, will aim to focus on the analysis of insights of the target segment, Generation X females through secondary and primary research. Raising Generation X Females From an early age, Gen X females were forced to adapt to an independent mentality. In childhood, Gen X, collectively, witnessed a drastic shift in family structure as they entered an era of soaring divorce rates and economic downturn, which forced
  2. 2. Valletta 2 both parents to work (Callanan). Respondent A recalls her afternoons spent as a child, “ I would walk home from school, let myself in and make myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” she continued, “I would keep busy by playing with my sister until my parents came home around dinner time.” The idea of the “latchkey kid” created an entirely new generation where children were spending multiple hours home alone, engrossed in solitary or one-on-one-play activity (Callanan). In specific, this had a large impact on Gen X females who adapted to adult life in response to their upbringing. This draws upon the five major insights—discussed below—found within the target segment of Gen X females who are now aged 34 to 54. Marriage Stemming from the influence of their childhood, many Gen X females pursue personal goals differently. When it comes to marriage, the average age for Gen X women is 30 (Swanbrow). Directly resulting from their upbringing, Gen X women choose to be more flexible and adaptable in regards to dating and marriage. This is likely due to the fact that these women crave stability and will not settle for a subpar suitor. This stability often extends beyond the home with focus on leisure time and enriching experiences. Jon Miller, author of The Generation X Report, points out, “Nearly 90 percent of Generation X females participated in at least one outdoor activity, such as hiking [and/or] swimming…and 40 percent engaged in two or more recreation and leisure activities per month.” Respondent B is adamant about hiking with her husband, “We love doing outdoor activities together, even if it’s just a walk around the neighborhood.” On the cultural side, 45 percent of Gen X females have attended at least one cultural event in the
  3. 3. Valletta 3 past year (Swanbrow). A solid personal and home life is important to Gen X females, however parenting is of highest value for “Mother X’ers”. Mother X Most Gen X females have children after age 30, for many of the same reasons they marry later. The Gen X mother always puts her children first, as a result of her independent childhood. She is also an educated consumer, turning to friends or members of peer groups to ask them to share personal stories and experiences with various brands (Bailey and Ulman). Mother X’ers like stories because they illustrate the individuality of different situations and show that there are multiple ways to do things (Bailey and Ulman). It is also important to note that Gen X mothers spend far more than average on baby furniture, clothing, toys, food, and childcare (Lambert). According to Susan Miller in American Demographics, “X’ers spend 100 percent above average on clothing for children under 2, and 33 percent more than average for boys and girls between 2 and 16.” Respondent B admits to purchasing “luxury” items for her 1-year-old son, “He has a Patagonia shearling vest and I just bought him Minnetonka moccasins for his Halloween costume.” With emphasis on Gen X females as mothers, Mother X’ers are having children later in life and spending big while doing so. The New Definition of Work Professionally, Gen X females have an entrepreneurial spirit and tend to focus on arranging work around life. Gen X females watched their working mothers and fathers lose jobs, after years of tenure with their employers. The same parents were thrown to the wayside as corporations traded employee loyalty for improved bottom lines (Bailey, et al.). Gen X females also witnessed scandals such as Watergate, the shrinking of Social
  4. 4. Valletta 4 Security benefits in the future, and decreasing health benefits (Bailey, et al.). All of this contributed to Gen X females’ new definition of work. The PwC Saratoga US Human Capital Effectiveness Report states that Gen X females have a “need to continue to adapt the workplace to [their] values including; freedom and responsibility in the workplace, a dislike of micro-management, a casual attitude toward authority, and a focus on a better work-life balance (Sammer).” Both Respondent A and Respondent B left their jobs to raise their children and focus on homemaking. Respondent A has since returned to work now that her children are in college but, her schedule is flexible and allows her to work from home if she wishes. In regards to work, Gen X females are uniquely positioned to take the best of the old ways of doing things and merge them with the new ways of doing things. This is key in order to carve out family- friendly work environments and combine them with the entrepreneurial spirit Gen X females prefer. Beauty and Aesthetics Gen X females put a high price on beauty and aesthetics. In general, Gen X women tend to look younger than their mothers and grandmothers did at their age. Less cigarette smoking, more sunscreen use and a greater awareness about nutrition and beauty industry advances have helped facilitate a graceful aging process for Gen X females (Dawson). Still, Gen X females rely on preventative anti-aging beauty regimens to look their best. 42 percent of Gen X women have a regular beauty regimen designed to prevent the visible signs of aging (Dawson). Economically speaking, a report from the Symphony IRI National Consumer Panel states “Gen X females spent $5.3 billion on beauty products in [a] 12-month period…which represented 28% of all beauty spending (Dawson).” These reports mirror Respondent A and Respondent B’s behaviors toward
  5. 5. Valletta 5 beauty and aesthetics. Respondent A explained her anti-aging beauty regimen, “I use eye cream every night before bed and I also have microdermabrasion peels one to two times a year.” Respondent B uses eye cream as well, “for preventative aging at this point in time, but I tend to spend a lot of money on my other beauty products in general.” In regards to clothing, Gen X women feel freer to play up their femininity, choosing to dress in softer silhouettes rather than those that are bold and structured (Dawson). As a result of beauty and aesthetics, Gen X females are changing the conversation about what it means to be middle-aged. Women of this generation look to celebrities like Julianne Moore, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Salma Hayek as inspiration for what a “middle-aged” woman looks like today. Individuality Gen X females are on a quest for individuality. These women have grown up not accepting the status quo. This can translate to wearing long hair past a certain age, steering clear of “mom jeans” and participating in music, sports and other interests once reserved for “younger women (Dawson).” This focus on individuality can be seen in the Gen X female product markets, with a surge in personalized jewelry, sweaters, and handbags. Respondent B recalls one of her favorite Christmas gifts given to her by her husband, “He gave me a gold bangle bracelet, it had my first initial etched into it, which I loved because it was special to me.” Individualization and personalization allows Gen X females to feel in control of the uncertainties that they experienced as children (Bailey, et al.). This is especially apparent in the home improvement and cooking market sectors, both in which enable Gen X females to express individuality within the home (Bailey, et
  6. 6. Valletta 6 al.). With focus on staying true to themselves, Gen X females see individuality as an integral part of their everyday life. Authentic Woman, Magazine Proposal Through the analysis of Gen X females, a magazine entitled Authentic Woman would be most favored by the generation. The name is appropriate for the target segment because it appeals to Gen X females’ desire for authenticity and individuality as well as adds a hint of sophistication for the middle-aged woman. As mentioned previously, Gen X females do not accept the status quo and seek to live their lives according to their rules. The magazine genre would be lifestyle and beauty because it correlates best with the five major insights discussed above. The tone of Authentic Woman is practical, yet upbeat in which readers feel as though they are connecting with a close friend when reading featured articles. Concept Rationale From the five major insights of the target segment, four magazine feature articles were created. The first, “Exclusive, Julianne Moore, What it’s like to be 53 and fabulous,” touches upon the insights of Mother X, Marriage, and Beauty and Aesthetics. Julianne Moore, an American actress, is a relevant celebrity who is a Gen X female herself. Moore speaks openly about having children later in life and getting married at a young age, which ultimately led to divorce. She is also redefining what it means to be “in your early fifties” by breaking the stereotypes of having shorter hair and dressing matronly. Moore speaks out against Botox and plastic surgery and instead is a proponent of natural aging. She urges women to opt for less invasive products or procedures like nightly eye serum or monthly facials (Iley). Featuring Moore on Authentic Woman would
  7. 7. Valletta 7 attract the Gen X female consumer because Moore is relatable and pertinent to what the target segment is currently going through. The second featured article, “100 beauty products you need to try,” references the Beauty and Aesthetics insight. Rating the top one hundred beauty products, what they do, and why you need them will help readers decide which product is right for them. Coming from a reliable source, like Authentic Woman, Gen X females will feel more comfortable choosing their beauty regimen. This is an important feature to include because statistically speaking, almost half of all Gen X females purchase beauty products and participate in daily beauty regimens. The third feature article, “DIY, home office spaces you’ll want to work in,” touches upon the insights of Individuality and The New Definition of Work. Not only does designing your own workspace enable Gen X females to express their individuality, but it also allows them to utilize the problem-solving abilities mastered in childhood. Creating an at-home office is applicable to the target segment as well because of their entrepreneurial spirit and desire to arrange work around life. This insight has created a shift to stay at home mothers, flexible schedules, and even the ability to work from home. Lastly, the fourth article, “Twins at 41, a mother’s story,” was created in reference to the insights of Mother X as well as aspects of Beauty and Aesthetics and Individuality. This “tell-all” piece will resonate with the target segment because most Gen X females have children post-thirties. It also relates to straying from the status quo and doing things individual to one’s personal life goals. In regards to Beauty and Aesthetics, this feature acknowledges the ability of Gen X females to feel young and vibrant enough to have babies and raise a family.
  8. 8. Valletta 8 Proposed Advertiser Categories Appealing to the desire for authenticity, imagery featuring realistic events that may occur or have occurred in the lives of Gen X females is most likely to resonate. For example, advertisements can connect with Gen X women by using sentimental milestone events, like a daughter getting her driver’s license, or a son’s wedding, to create an emotional appeal (Reaching Generation X). For this reason, the most successful advertisements featured in Authentic Woman would be those depicting relatable scenarios that were subtly designed in order to create an emotional response. In regards to proposed advertiser categories, anti-aging beauty advertisements would do well because Gen X females put a high value on their beauty regimens and are likely to spend money on beauty products. Ikea would also benefit from featuring their advertisements in Authentic Woman. Ikea serves the DIY mentality that Gen X females have when it comes to supporting their needs for individuality and personalization. Ikea also appeals to Marriage and Mother X insights because it suits the needs of creating a stable home environment. Conclusion Through the five major insights of Marriage, Mother X, The New Definition of Work, Beauty and Aesthetics, and Individuality, the target segment, Gen X females, becomes understood. These insights can help market many products and services to the target segment through advertising and other forms of media. For the purposes of this project, however, a magazine was the goal. Authentic Woman is purposefully derived from the target segment insights to create a publication that Gen X women would pick up and, ultimately, enjoy reading.
  9. 9. Valletta 9 Bibliography Bailey, Maria T., and Bonnie W. Ulman. Trillion-dollar Moms: Marketing to a New Generation of Mothers. N.p.: Dearborn Trade, 2005. Ebrary ProQuest Reader. Web. 1 Nov. 2014. < 7329&ppg=74>. Callanan, Audra. "A Marketing Strategy for the Ages." Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly (2007): 1. LexisNexis Academic. LexisNexis, 18 Sept. 2007. Web. 2 Nov. 2014. < 301492&sr=HEADLINE(A+marketing+strategy+for+the+ages)%2BAND%2B ATE%2BIS%2B2007>. Dawson, Alene. "Gen X Women, Staying Young Longer." Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 25 Sept. 2011. Web. 09 Nov. 2014. <>. Iley, Chrissy. "Red Alert." The Guardian. Guardian News, n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2014. < 08/jul/06/features.culture>. Lambert, Emily. "Generation X." Speciality Retail Report. International Council of Shopping Centers, n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2014. < demographics/generation_x_sales/>.
  10. 10. Valletta 10 "Reaching Generation X: Authenticity in Advertising." Nielson. Nielson, 27 Nov. 2012. Web. 08 Nov. 2014. < generation-x-authenticity- in-advertising.html>. Respondent A. "In-depth Interview." Personal interview. Respondent B. “In-depth Interview.” Personal interview. Sammer, Joanne. "What about Generation X?" Business Finance. Penton, 24 Jan. 2012. Web. 09 Nov. 2014. < x>. Stephey, M.J. "Gen-X: The Ignored Generation?" Time. Time Inc., 16 Apr. 2008. Web. 02 Nov. 2014. <,8599,1731528,00.html>. Swanbrow, Diane. "The Generation X Report: U-M Survey Paints a Surprisingly Positive Portrait." Michigan News. University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, 25 Oct. 2011. Web. 03 Nov. 2014. < survey-paints-a-surprisingly-positive-portrait>. Taylor, Paul, and George Gao. "Generation X: America’s Neglected ‘middle Child’." Pew Research (n.d.): n. pag. Pew Research Center. 5 June 2014. Web. 02 Nov. 2014. < neglected-middle-child/>.
  11. 11. Valletta 11 Demographic Profile Respondent A Age: 50 Marital Status: Married Family Size: 2 children (ages 19, 21) Employment: Employed Location of Residence: East Greenwich, RI Respondent B Age: 34 Marital Status: Married Family Size: 1 child (age 1) Employment: Unemployed Location of Residence: Boston, MA