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Generation X: The Generation for Boat Sales

Frequently dubbed the “neglected middle child,” Generation X usually is referred to as the bridge between millennials and baby boomers. And while it’s decidedly the smallest generation, Gen Xers are where boat dealers should be seriously looking for sales these days.

While millennials are the trendy new market and boomers are the established audience, Gen X is where the money is. Indeed, Gen Xers now have the largest spending power at 31 percent of all income dollars, according to reports from American Express. Members of Generation X, the third-largest generation, constitute 25 percent of all adults. And Gen X has more spending power than any other generation, with 29 percent of estimated net worth dollars.

For many years, boating has experienced success aiming its heaviest marketing at baby boomers while putting more recent efforts on trying to find a key to the huge millennial segment. But we must recognize that the numbers within the boomers are rapidly declining and that millennials are still mostly too young, so Gen Xers are moving into places the boomers are leaving behind. In addition, the wealth of the boomers is now mostly passing down to Gen Xers and their families, making them the richest target.

While Gen X is smaller than the others, there’s still upward of 60 million of them. What’s more, studies show they spend for themselves and their kids.

So how do dealers best target Gen Xers?

For starters, it should be recognized that Gen Xers are on par with millennials when it comes to technology. Remember, Gen Xers came of age at the same time the Internet did, and virtually all are online using social networks that dealers can also utilize.

Although email marketing may seem like yesterday’s mashed potatoes, it’s still considered by experts the top way to communicate with Gen Xers. They are continually checking email at work, at home, on tablets, iPhones and desktops.

One excellent use of email is to offer coupons, because this generation is really a hybrid when it comes to marketing. Gen Xers grew up without any real online shopping experiences. They relished in-store experiences, and couponing was a major tool for marketers to reach them. They still respond to coupons.

In addition, this generation makes the most unplanned purchases while out shopping, often triggered by coupons. For dealers, creating and sending coupons that offer accessory discounts, service specials and similar incentives to buy now can draw in customers.

It’s important to understand that Gen Xers, more than any other generation, crave context. For example, they’re big in terms of who writes reviews online. Before making a purchasing decision, they’re known to check every available resource. But unlike other generations, Gen Xers span the line between digital and traditional media, and will spend time looking both online and off to make informed decisions. Ultimately, they’re certain to be in-person, in-showroom shoppers for virtually all major purchases, especially boats and related equipment.

Almost 50 percent of Gen Xers are considered brand-loyal. Give them plenty of regular informative and entertaining contact and information, and they’ll likely be repeat customers.

Consider these points:

• Gen Xers show the strongest desire to provide for their families. Selling boats as offering lifetime experiences and valued memories to hand down will ring with Gen X prospects.

• Gen Xers exhibit a strong penchant for taking care of themselves. The benefits of boating are right on target for this health-conscious group.

• Most Gen Xers are parents, and they consume media that reflects their values. According to reports by Nielsen, men and women of Gen X are drawn to ads and videos that showcase everyday life and real-world situations. Perfect material for boating.

Gen Xers grew up in the 1990s and are good at recognizing BS. Giving them the information they desire is No. 1, but being authentic is just as critical. They understand value, and they’re the generation that most likely wants to know what you can do for them. But skip the sales speak; they go for candor.

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