Examining Generation X: Stats, Demographics, Segments, Predictions
in Strategy & Trends | by Ethan Lyon
Sergey Brin, Quentin Tarantino and Jon Stewart are among many Gen X luminaries pushing the limits, re-shaping corporate culture, re-thinking film and revolutionizing comedy. They are accelerating the speed of life and “keeping America from sucking,” writes Jeff Gordinier, author of X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft But Can Still Keep Everything From Sucking.
Generation X is an estimated 50 million strong. Most demographers agree that GenXers were born between 1964 and 1984 — putting them between the ages of 26 and 46. This generation is often referred to as “baby busters,” as they are attributed to a rapid decline in birth rates after the Baby Boomers. Moreover, Gen X is a highly educated and sophisticated group — with more than 60% of the population having attended higher education institutions.
Each generation is defined by diverse subsets rather than a single attribute. By defining these diverse characteristics of Gen X, we are not pigeon-holing them as just pragmatic or just forward-thinkers. Instead, we are exploring the diversity of a generation that has helped shape business, culture and technology. As TwentySomething’s David Morrison writes, “my birthgroup would be hard pressed to fit on a single couch due to its sheer magnitude and unprecedented diversity.”
Pragmatics are considered the byproduct of the Information Age — where data and a practical approach are essential ingredients to achieve results. Because Pragmatics understand the intricacies of media and marketing, they are sometimes considered cynical (however, not without an underlying optimism, notes Morrison).
Thrillers are about speed. They contributed to the rise in thrill-junky sports, such as skateboarding, skateboarding and skydiving. The X-Games, born from the Gen X grass-roots movement, has created a lasting impact on sports — with the Olympic’s adopting snowboarding as a legitimate sport.
Jeff Gordinier, 41, a disenfranchised Gen Xer, feels like his generation “got the shaft.” In his book, X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft But Can Still Keep Everything From Sucking, Gordinier writes, “How about less Bob Dylan and more Kurt Cobain? If [Nirvana’s] Nevermind changed the world, the world changed back pretty fast.” In many ways, Gordinier feels as if Gen X is getting middle child treatment. Boomers are growing old and Gen Y is coming of age, so what about Gen X?
Gen X is at the intersection of personal wealth and sophistication. Quality Seekers are almost cult-like loyal followers to high-quality, localized brands such as Trader Joe’s. Quality Seekers are willing to spend more to get high-quality ingredients. In fact, Quality Seekers helped Trader Joe’s rank no. 23 on “Supermarket News’ Top 75 Retailers of 2009.”
Web of Intelligence — The Web of Intelligence is about creating more smart computing through adaptive algorithms, such as personalized search. While Boomers (think Steve Jobs and Bill Gates) helped push the first digital revolution, Gen X (think Google’s Sergey Brin) is picking up where they left off and advancing the web into new areas never before imagined possible. Gen X is more educated than their Boomer parents and putting that knowledge to good use.
For Gen X, the recession is still kinking their career path. In fact, to find work, Gen X has employed themselves as CEO–creating businesses dreamed of while working away in a cubicle. Boomers is too old, Gen Y is too young, Gen X is just right — blazing their own career path as entrepreneurs. The next five years should see a rise in entrepreneurship as Gen X takes significant risks in an attempt at taking charge of their lives.
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