Gen-Xers’ net worth: What’s it worth to Marketers?


By Jason Kelley
January 26, 2016


As there are a few of us Gen-Xers at OOTEM, we were curious about findings within The Shullman Research Center’s study on Generation-Xers (A34-48).

In their study from July, they compare Gen-Xers to (in many cases) their Baby Boomer parents.

While Baby Boomers control the largest share of total net worth dollars of any generation, Gen- Xers have the most net worth and average household income on a per-adult basis. Like Baby Boomers, affluent Gen-Xers are ready to spend on luxury goods. In fact, some 51% of Upscale* Gen-Xers plan to buy one or more luxuries in the next year, as are 52% of Upscale Baby Boomers.

While Upscale Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers have similar expectations for luxury buying, the purchases they’re planning to make differ in some respects from their Boomer counterparts. Some of the largest gaps are for the following (all percentages relate to Upscale adults):

  • Buying premium beers or ales (28% of Gen-Xers vs. 15% of Baby Boomers)
  • Buying premium cosmetics (5% Gen-Xers; 18% Baby Boomers)
  • Buying fine/premium wines (20% Gen-Xers; 27% Baby Boomers)
  • Buying a piece of fine jewelry costing $500 or more (8% Gen Xers; 15% Baby Boomers)
  • Buying fine/premium champagne/sparkling wines (13% Gen Xers; 7% Baby Boomers)
  • Buying designer collection clothing or accessories (18% Gen Xers; 9% Baby Boomers)

Interestingly, while 98% of Upscale Baby Boomers plan to travel for pleasure, a significantly smaller 65% of Upscale Gen-Xers plan the same.

Both Upscale and Mass-market** Gen-Xers have higher average household incomes than their Baby Boomers counterparts.

Upscale Gen-Xers, it seems, simply have different priorities than their older counterparts. For example, they’re more likely to want to become financially independent (31% vs. 25%), provide for their children’s college expenses (51% vs. 33%), buy a home (29% vs. 3%), and start a business (22% vs. 1%). And, interestingly, of various concerns listed, they’re far more likely than Upscale Baby Boomers to be worried about their own health (43% vs. 27%).

Overall, 77% of Upscale Gen-Xers feel that they will be better off financially in the next 12 months, versus 55% of Upscale Baby Boomers. Moreover, 54% expect to spend more in the next 12 months, versus 22% of Upscale Baby Boomers.

Marketers, take heed.

*Upscale adult refers to those who either have a personal net worth of at least $1 million or who live in a household with income of at least $250,000. Upscale Gen-Xers account for about 1 in 10 Gen-Xers overall, and about 12% of all Baby Boomers.

**Mass-market refers to all Gen-Xers who don’t fit the Upscale definition