Recently, I researched the topic of online clothing retailers and their buyers for a grad school project. I find the retail world so fascinating since many retailers have had to adopt their mass-market approach for the online world. Some have succeeded, others continue to struggle to compete. What was interesting in conducting this research was finding a particular small, but influential group of female buyers that most retailers are missing – a subgroup influential because of their buying power and influence.
These women are not quite Gen Xers, but potentially too old to be millennials. They watched Reality Bites, but maybe didn’t feel as jaded. Potentially, they could have gone to a Nirvana concert and still wear their t-shirts.
After reading the blog post Social Media Week: Oregon Trail Generation on SMW, I thought I would share my findings about this subgroup. As marketers, we sometimes have to remind ourselves that marketing to a generation is not always about their age, but about their behaviors.
Below is an excerpt from my project. Happy reading.
Female Generation X with Millennial Tendencies
Before millennials were texting their friends using their first iPhones, there was a generation of women who knew of a time before the Internet, Generation X. Gen Xers are between the ages of 35-44 who grew up during the materialistic 1980s and saw the aftermath of gluttony in the 1990s. They are also digital adopters: Gen Xers were the first generation to grow up with computers and technology, although this occurred later in their lives. Today, they remain tech-savvy and habitually research items online prior to purchase (JWT Intelligence, 2010).
They break rules and redefined a slacker generation
Women of this generation are adventurous, daring, quirky, informed, responsible, and skeptical. Nostalgic, Gen X women gravitate towards happier times from their past (Han, 2012). This public can afford higher-end items because they are more established in their careers and have higher spending power. Because Gen Xers write their own rules, she could be a recent mom or a childfree career powerhouse.
They shop too, but often buy less and look for deals. Most female Gen Xers make shopping lists using a variety of tools, half review circulars, and coupons. Fifty-one percent download coupons from retailer sites and 38 percent research products online. About one-third use deal sites, 31 percent use social media to get coupons, and 23 percent look for updates from retailers and manufacturers via texts or e-mails (McClain, 2012).
Why are Gen Xers with Millennial Tendencies Important? Go Back to Why Women Rule the Purse.
Though shopping is synonymous with women, there are several reasons why women rule the purse and the economy (Brennan, 2011). First, women are the gateway to household budgets. They not only shop for themselves, but also for others— spouses, kids, friends, family, colleagues, and often their older parents. This multiplies their buying power and influence (Brennan, 2013).
Second, women have a strong connection to community both online and off-line. In their community, people connect with one another to help others realize their potential inside and out, and to make life happier for everyone (Brennan, 2011). Millennial females regard shopping as a group activity, shopping twice as often with their spouses, friends, or family members as non-millennial females (Solomon, 2014). The strong connection to each other is easily seen in their business and personal relationships as well. Women prioritize and cultivate personal and business relationships because creating these networks of family, friends, and colleagues is a primary source of joy and fulfillment (Brennan, 2011).
Finally, women are typically connectors, and that makes them the source of valuable information to the people in their network or community. If women are happy with your business, they are delighted to tell people they know— especially if you provide an incentive for them to do so (Brennan, 2011). From loyalty programs to referral programs, if you are not leveraging your female customers to bring in their contacts, you’re leaving money on the table.
- Brennan, B. (2013, March 6). The Real Reason Women Shop More than Men. Retrieved February 7, 2015, from Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/bridgetbrennan/2013/03/06/the-real-reason-women-shop-more-than-men/
- Brennan, B. (2011). Why She Buys: The New Strategy for Reaching The World’s Most Powerful Consumers. New York, NY: Random House.
- Han, L. (2012, May 30). Gen X: The New Luxury Buyers And How To Reach Them. Retrieved February 7, 2015, from Media Post, Engage: Affluent: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/175754/gen-x-the-new-luxury-buyers-and-how-to-reach-them.html
- JWT Intelligence. (2010, May 19). Gen X Women: Flirting with Forty. Retrieved March 29, 2015, from Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/jwtintelligence/gen-x-women-flirting-with-forty
- McClain, A. (2012, November 12). What’s So Different About Gen X’ers? Retrieved February 7, 2015, from Retail Wire: http://www.retailwire.com/discussion/16394/whats-so-different-about-gen-xers