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Generation X is our selling audience now

On Tuesday, I blogged about millennials as a target market and all your comments were notably right on point.

But a reader raised a perspective we hadn’t touched on when they asked “What ever happened to targeting Gen X?”

While we can recognize that millennials mean a very good future for boating growth in the out years, it is Generation X that we must attract in significant numbers right now if we’re going to see our growth accelerate.

So just who are the Gen Xers? There are 51 million of them. They are the generation born between 1961 and 1981 following the baby boomers. But they grew up in a different world than previous generations, marked by higher rates of divorce, working moms and "latchkey" kids.

Gen Xers came of age with rotary-dial phones and lived during the explosion of mobile technology. They remember Liquid Paper (Wite-Out) and banging out their term papers on typewriters. They grew up in a world without social media and, yet, truly grasped technology (the founders of Google, Twitter and Amazon are Gen Xers, for example).

Compared to earlier generations, this is a highly-educated group of Americans. More than 60 percent of Gen Xers have attended college at one time or another. Moreover, they are an entrepreneurial generation, but place a high value on achieving work-life balance and making family-oriented active living their highest priority. It’s a perfect fit for boating.

And, most important, this generation has the money to back it up.

Right now, Gen Xers are moving through their prime earnings years and will continue to do so for the next decade or so until the millennials begin to take over. The American workforce is in a transition now because every day thousands of baby boomers retire. Gen Xers are stepping in. Simply, it’s the Gen Xers that are in a great position to buy boats today.

So how do we reach them? First, they know the marketing strategies that worked on baby boomers and don't respond well to recycling the past. This group is attracted to what is affordable and of good quality. Trends that don't break the bank are the ones that Gen X go for. It’s also a group highly concerned about the environment and goes for the green trends.

Generation X finds "hard selling" harsh, rude, and obnoxious. It turns them off. Selling to Xers means getting them to listen. Gen X wants to know who you are, what you stand for and the quality of your products before they’ll make a decision to trust your business. Honesty is clearly the best policy because they know the tricks and gimmicks that come with selling.

Flexibility is in play. While Xers aren't known to be the most flexible generation, being too stiff with them on pricing, terms, equipment, etc., will cause problems. Showing some flexibility is important. If they’re on the fence about buying a product or service, it’s critical to learn what you must do to meet their needs.

Finally, if you’re going to pursue Gen Xers, you must recognize they are a very diverse group. This generation had the lowest replacement birth rate of all generations, yet their numbers in American society kept growing. Why? Immigration.

Yes, Gen Xers, now in their 40s and 50s and experiencing healthy incomes, should be our primary target at this point in time.



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