Generation X, born roughly between 1965 and 1981, bears the burden of following the Baby Boomers. In our Eco Pulse™ research, Gen Xers have the distinction of being the least green in their attitudes and behaviors of any age group.
In their 1991 book Generations, William Strauss and Neil Howe unsuccessfully tried to christen the post-Boomers the “Thirteenth Generation,” noting that their collective identity was forged by the national pessimism of lines at gas pumps and the Iran hostage crisis and lingering cynicism stemming from political scandals like Watergate.
Strauss and Howe note, “Far more than other generations, 13ers feel that the real world is gearing up to punish them down the road.”
In place of the Boomers’ idealism, write Strauss and Howe, Gen Xers are all about practicality: “This streetwise generation does indeed bring a bag of savvy tricks their elders lack … More than anyone, they have developed a seasoned talent for getting the most out of a bad hand.”
Now 32 to 48, many Gen Xers are in the midst of parenthood, with little disposable income. Many fall in the market segment we describe as “Seekers,” the 33 percent of consumers with professed green attitudes that only play out in actual sustainable behaviors when they’re convenient and inexpensive.
Seekers look at corporate sustainability efforts, but not that closely. They are concerned about global warming, but the practical challenges of the economic downturn moved the polar bears to the back burner.
To reach this market, it’s a good idea to use the communication tools they rely on – social media and the Internet – and to emphasize the practical. Seekers love reliable brands, good prices and the big box stores.
They are becoming greener in their roles as parents, often after a health event that makes them want to seek a healthier life and home.
They might try a green product they see as safer and healthier for their families and the planet, but the product must be easy to find and use and must not come with a premium price-tag.