How to reach Gen Xers, the least green age group

How to reach Gen Xers, the least green age group

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.


Posted on

August 19, 2013

About the Author

Brooks Clark

Brooks is a former contributor to Shelton Insights.

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Suzanne Shelton

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Suzanne is the voice and the vision of Shelton Group. Drawing on her extensive experience in energy and the environment – and 25+ years in the marketing and advertising industry – Suzanne provides high-level strategic insights for our clients and guidance for our research and creative departments. She regularly speaks at conferences around the country, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and the International Builders’ Show, and serves as a guest columnist for publications like Fast Company, Green Builder and

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