Its members typically have been thought of as overlooked, sandwiched between Baby Boomers and Millennials. But Generation X — people born roughly between 1965 and 1980 — “possess the best marketing characteristics” of their powerhouse demographic neighbors according to CMO by Adobe¹. You could say that Gen Xers are chameleon-like in terms of marketing. They’re at home on social media and easily adaptable to a constantly shifting digital landscape, but they also recognize the role traditional marketing channels might continue to play.
Gen X is similarly in the middle in terms of housing trends. Roughly 60 percent of this cohort is a homeowner² (compared to 75 and 32 percent respectively for Baby Boomers and Millennials). But Gen Xers do share a particular similarity with Boomers in that both groups show an increasing preference for renting. Approximately one-third of Gen Xers say that they do not anticipate owning a home³, either because of a lack of interest in homeownership or the perception of the lack of affordability.
So what do the members of Gen X want in a multifamily community, and what’s the most effective way to reach them?
They may have differences with respect to their preferred platforms, but Baby Boomers, Gen X and Millennials all have the same overall rates of daily social media use⁴, at more than 80%. You’re most likely to find Gen Xers posting visual content on Facebook, however. So organic and paid Facebook posts that emphasize engaging images of your community⁵ could prove a valuable draw for in-market Gen X renters to learn more about what you have to offer them as residents.
Gen X is a tech-savvy bunch. Many of them are also the parents of younger Millennials and the still-teenage Generation Z, so it’s no surprise that Gen Xers are just as likely to find smartphones, tablets and apps indispensable⁶ for everything from managing utilities to entertainment. Amenities like high-speed internet and smart appliances can be particularly attractive, so make sure your listings include the most up-to-date details if they’re available in your community.
Gen Xer women are key contributors to household incomes and often are the primary earners. In a survey⁷ of nearly 3,000 college-educated, white-collar workers, nearly 20% of Gen X men earned less than their wives, compared with only 14% of Baby Boomer men. Gen Xer households also are more likely to be dual-income⁸ as compared to their Millennial and Boomer counterparts.
Marketing collateral and touchpoints that appeal to both male and female prospects could make the difference in converting Gen Xer prospects into residents. For example, if you’re designing a brochure, you might want to highlight data-like information — such as the average commuting time from your community to downtown or to a central business district — which would typically appeal more to men⁹. But you might also want to spotlight the time it takes to get to nearby attractions — such as parks, shopping and restaurants — that might have more of an emotional draw for women.
Millennials may have the reputation of being a generation with a keen awareness of social issues and activism¹⁰, but their Gen Xer forerunners also aren’t shy about the causes they care about. When it’s time to make a purchase, Gen X is “less prone to moving in the waves of trends, and is more likely to buy a service or product that somehow benefits society or the environment,” according to WordStream¹¹. Consider appealing to this trait by playing up the sustainability aspects of your community when creating your listings, brochures and social media content. Environmental amenities such as green spaces, in-unit energy-saving features and recycling programs can be as attractive as traditional amenities like swimming pools and tennis courts, and these could be what persuades a new resident to call your community home.
¹CMO by Adobe, “Don’t You Forget About Me: Why Gen X Is A Marketing Can’t-Miss”
²Urban Institute, “The state of millennial homeownership”
³Freddie Mac Multifamily, “New Research Finds Increasing Preference for Renting”
⁴The Manifest, “How Different Generations Use Social Media”
⁵Multifamily Executive, “Ten Pieces to Multifamily’s Digital Marketing Puzzle”
⁷MarketWatch, “10 things Generation X won’t tell you”
⁸eMarketer, “Gen X 2019: It’s Still Stupid to Ignore Them”