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Creating Tomorrow: Generation X

You might have seen it back in January. Plenty of Gen Xers did. A graphic popping up on a US TV channel explaining the different generations and their birth years. Well, nearly all the different generations.

If it raises a smirk, the predictably deadpan Twitter responses from the generation CBSN forgot should get a proper chuckle.

The miss might be old news now; the sentiment is not.

Day after day I am asked by retailers what they can do to save their businesses. They’re obsessed with Millennials, confused by Gen Z, and doing their best to educate themselves about Alphas.

No one ever asks me about Gen X.

I’m now on a one-woman mission to right this wrong. For multiple reasons.

1)   This is a generation with money to spend and no time to spend it. Make it easy, guys, and they’ll flock to you with their Apple Pay app open and ready to go.

2)   They’re looking after multiple generations: their kids, their parents, the teams they manage at work, which means they have huge influence over the products and experiences other generations are using… they’re probably buying them for them.

3)   I’m Gen X and I really, really want to find more places to shop.

Keenly aware that using an entire trend forecasting company to improve the quality of my wardrobe might be a misappropriation of company time, I’d like to draw your attention back to points one and two. And also remind you that planning for Gen Z and Alphas doesn’t stop, it’s just that there’s a fix for current revenue issues sitting staring brands and retailers in the face, and oh so few appear to have recognised it.

Prepping for a talk I was giving a few weeks back on this topic, we were hunting for images showing Gen X in decent high street fashion campaigns and couldn’t find any. None. Zilch.

With the deadline for the presentation already past, I stuck a picture of Keanu Reeves posing for Saint Laurent in and hoped for the best.

About two minutes later, a fellow Gen X-er flew over with her laptop and suggested Mango. We both looked down at the Mango bag kicked half under my desk – the guilty evidence that I hadn’t perhaps gone to the allotted meet zone during the fire alarm drill that morning.

Yep, Mango have a 40-year-old in their current campaign and this nearly-40-year-old shopping in their stores. Simple maths, right?

Weirdly it seems the high-fashion brands have got this topic far more sorted. Saint Laurent, as evidenced by the decision to put Reeves in the new menswear campaign. Gucci, with its opulent campaigns and many red-carpet appearances masterminded around Jared Leto. Even Versace ended its S/S 18 catwalk show with a fivesome of Gen X supermodels.

The high street, not so much. Boomers are in plentiful supply, thanks to the trend for using older models, but Gen X – 39 to 55-years-old at the time of writing and, let’s not forget, the generation who defined the currently very on-trend nineties decade – are notably absent.

I have a heap more to say on this topic, but for the time being, take a look round your organisation and ask yourselves: who’s worrying about Gen X?

This week, I’ve been:

Pretending I’m abroad in the sun for the bank holiday, even in less than temperate temperatures, along with the rest of the UK.

Eating at The Cliff House in Barton on Sea. Good beachside restaurants aren’t a given along the Hampshire coast. And while this isn’t beachside, more cliffside (as the name suggests), we loved it.

Also eating at Gloria’s in Shoreditch. From one extreme to the other. Hikers and families in Hampshire. Hipsters and influencers in London.

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