Generation X: The Forgotten Ones

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While browsing through industry articles and blogs over these past two weeks I have seen a number of posts talking about Generation Y and the affect they will have on our industry, as well all the other industries around the world. These articles contain numerous pieces of valuable information that can help guide us in the future, and should be noted by all in the industry. However, since there has been such an emerging focus on Gen Y, I’ve decided to be counter-current and point out a couple of reasons as to Gen Xers shouldn’t be forgotten about just yet.

1. Gen Xers are willing to spend more than other generations when eating out

This fact seems contradictory, mainly because price consciousness is a well-known Gen X characteristic, but another characteristic of this group is low price sensitivity. These almost conflicting characteristics put this group in a special situation. Gen Xers pay attention to prices and actively try to save money, unless the brand is one they love or have a personal connection with, in which case they are willing pay top dollar prices for that product.

How does this affect me: The application for this information is simple (in theory). Provide the brands that this generation trusts and connects with and they will buy it, even if it is at a premium price. There is a lot of research out there on what items and brands Gen Xers prefer to buy. If you can tailor your current product offering to include the brands that are preferred by Gen Xers, without cutting out the items other generations love, you can capitalize on their preferences while saving money.

2. The same but different… when it comes to food

This is the second almost outright contradictory statement I have made, but again things aren’t always as they seem. While everyone else is busy pointing out differences between generations, here’s a useful similarity. Gen Xers and Gen Y individuals both prefer healthy foods! (even if it is for different reasons)

How does this affect me: Because both generations prefer healthy foods, you can multi-purpose your fresh foods department to satisfy the needs of both groups, instead of having to buy more product to try and satisfy both. As a Vending or Micro-market manager, if you can figure out fresh food items that satisfy the desires of both generations, it will be easier to identify which items you can replace or completely remove.

3. They still like soda!

According to many current studies, a developing trend in the beverage industry is the decline of soft drinks, while energy drink, water, and health drink sales increase. With every year more Gen Y individuals enter the workforce, while Baby-Boomers are leaving it. All this translates to a shift in generational buying power, and since Generation Y individuals like soda less than any generation before them, it would stand to reason that the sales of soda will decrease as time goes on. However, because Gen Xers are still in the workforce and still love soda, we can find comfort knowing that there will still be strong financial support for soft drinks in the foreseeable future.

How does this affect me: Peace of mind knowing that your soft drink sales won’t suddenly disappear in a day, but instead give you enough time to evaluate the situation and readjust your product offering (in the very unlikely situation that you will one day actually have to remove soda from your product offering because nobody Is buying it anymore).

4. They are more easily satisfied

If you know what you like, you know what you like. What else can I say? The same way many of our Five Star Food Service customers continue using our services, because their desires were met or exceeded, Gen Xers will continually buy the same product from specific brands over and over again because they know they can rely on it. Gen Y individuals on the other hand, seem to want everything. They demand a wider variety of product offering, are harder to satisfy than other generations, and continually try new things, which means it harder to peg them as customers.

How does this affect me: Less energy expended. In the future it will require more effort to satisfy your customer because of their varied tastes. But for now, you can be relieved knowing that you still know and understand your customers.

Just to clarify, no part of this article is supposed to instill fear, or try and negate other articles that focus on the coming of change in consumer makeup. The whole point of this article was, however, to focus on the positives of the present. Yes I know change is coming, and it might be difficult to adjust, but for now we should appreciate what we have, and try to improve on that as much as possible.