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
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.
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
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”.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Callanan, Audra. "A Marketing Strategy for the Ages." Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly
(2007): 1. LexisNexis Academic. LexisNexis, 18 Sept. 2007. Web. 2 Nov. 2014.
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.
Lambert, Emily. "Generation X." Speciality Retail Report. International Council of
Shopping Centers, n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2014.
"Reaching Generation X: Authenticity in Advertising." Nielson. Nielson, 27 Nov. 2012.
Web. 08 Nov. 2014. <http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2012/reaching
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. <http://businessfinancemag.com/hr/what-about-generation
Stephey, M.J. "Gen-X: The Ignored Generation?" Time. Time Inc., 16 Apr. 2008. Web.
02 Nov. 2014.
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.
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.
Marital Status: Married
Family Size: 2 children (ages 19, 21)
Location of Residence: East Greenwich, RI
Marital Status: Married
Family Size: 1 child (age 1)
Location of Residence: Boston, MA