X-treme marketing

Generation X, that finicky group of consumers born between the mid-'60s and late '70s, is a marketer's worst nightmare. Industry experts have tried for years to figure out what products and advertising appeal to Gen-Xers and have had a difficult time. Karen Ritchies book "Marketing to Generation X" (Lexington Books, 1995) points out that Gen-Xers don't like to be told what to buy and don't always have strict brand loyalty.

Why the advertising difficulty with the group? Blame it on the baby boomers.

From the 1940s to the mid-1960s there were 73 million births in the US. From the mid-1960s to early 1980s, however, only 40 million babies were born. The smaller number means marketing has to reach more of a smaller pie.

To advertise to Gen-X, Ken Gronbach, president of KGA Advertising in Middletown, Conn., says advertisers have focused on a few key methods:

Market a truly new product: The snowboard, for example, became an icon for Gen X.

Make it humorous: Gen-Xers love humor.

Appeal to their attitude toward work: While Gen-Xers have a balanced view of the role work plays in their lives, they also expect to have lives outside the office.

Maintain a quality attitude: Marketers must have quality products and be genuine in their approach. "This is a cynical generation," says Mr. Gronbach. "They can spot a fake message."

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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