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Marketing To The Big Spenders Gen X and Millennials

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Are you targeting the proper generation of spenders this year? Forbes says there is a 70% chance of a recession in 2023, and the cooling down is not good news for businesses dependent on consumer spending. What’s more alarming is some companies won’t recover, while many will take up to a decade to bounce back.

A pessimistic global outlook has everyone on tenterhooks. You may be wondering who your customers will be this year.

During a recession, spending tends to decrease across all generations. However, specific spending categories may be affected differently. For example, older generations may continue to spend on necessities such as healthcare and groceries, while younger generations may cut back on discretionary spending such as dining out and traveling.

Additionally, some generations may be more likely to delay major purchases such as homes or cars. It’s worth noting that the effects of a recession on spending can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the recession and the person’s financial situation.

Your business can avoid poor trading this year by analyzing customer spending habits.  Use the information discovered to plan your marketing strategy to get more sales from the generations who typically keep spending during recessions.

How Do The Generations Spend?

If 2021 is anything to go by, the average American adult spends $60,000 annually. Some generations spend more than the rest. World Economic Forum says Generation Xers are the biggest spenders.


If you’re a GenX, you are in your fifth or sixth decade. Most of your spending is on housing due to owning your own home. While you’re typically in good health compared to your more senior peers from the Boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964), your generation spends the most on healthcare.

GenX spends more on everything else, from food, transport, clothing, and entertainment.

Is your business targeting its offerings to GenX? On average, Gen X spent just under $84,000 in 2021. However, Forbes says GenX’s spending is not all on themselves. GenX is the sandwich generation, supporting both their children and their parents.

How To Market To GenX

Marketing to Gen X during a recession will likely require a different approach than during a strong economy. Here are a few marketing strategies that may be effective.

Emphasize Value

Gen X is known for being fiscally conservative and cost-conscious, so emphasizing the value of your products or services may be particularly appealing to them during a recession.  Gen X is tirelessly searching for ways to improve its quality of time.  Does your offering save them time without putting a big dent in their cash flow?  If so, push this USP in your marketing, and Gen X will notice it.

Highlight Stability

During a recession, people may be looking for stability and security. If your brand can provide that, highlight it in your marketing messages.

Be Authentic

Gen X is known for being skeptical of marketing messages, so your marketing efforts must be authentic and transparent.  Use real experiences and stories in your marketing messages.

Digital Marketing Stables Are Your Friend

Gen X is the first generation to grow up with the internet, so they are very comfortable with digital marketing channels. Plus, they trust and use email more than their younger peers.

Email marketing

Email marketing is cost-effective, direct to the consumer, and measurable. Keep the email marketing messages on topic and your intentions transparent.  Ensure the landing pages are relevant to the email content and one or a maximum of two clicks to the shopping cart.

Gen X will do their research and visit sites recommended by Google.   Your site must be optimized, and your content must be dynamic and on-topic to meet Google’s EAT assessment.

Listen To Feedback

During the recession, it is important to stay in touch with your audience and listen to their feedback. This will help you adjust your marketing and content approach accordingly.

Use Online Reviews

Online reviews will help you build trust and credibility in your brand. Not all review sites are trustworthy, so avoid paying for reviews. It’s hard to get it wrong with Google Reviews, and Gen X will use it, so your business should, too.

Focus On The Long-Term

A recession may be a short-term setback, but it’s essential to have a long-term perspective when marketing to Gen X during this time.

Millennials are the next generation with good purchasing power, spending just over $69,000 on average in 2021.


Millennials, or Generation Y, are typically defined as people born between 1981 and 1996. Their spending power has changed in various ways in recent years.

One way millennial spending power has changed is that they have become a more significant proportion of the overall consumer market. As they have entered their prime earning and spending years, businesses have increasingly targeted their products and services toward millennials.

Prioritize Experiences

Another way that millennial spending power has changed is that they have different spending priorities than previous generations. For example, they are more likely to prioritize experiences over material possessions, spend money on travel and dining out, and invest in home-sharing, ride-sharing, and other sharing economy services.

Fewer Savings, More Debt

Additionally, millennial spending power has been affected by the economic conditions they have faced.

Many millennials entered the workforce during the Great Recession, which has impacted their financial stability and ability to save and invest. As a result, they are less likely to own homes and are more likely to still be paying off student loans.

Overall, the millennial spending power has changed in recent years, with the generation becoming a more significant proportion of the overall consumer market, having different spending priorities, and being affected by the economic conditions they have faced.  Should marketers bother with Millennials?  Yes.  Spending is still part of their DNA.

Marketing To Millennials During A Recession

Marketing to millennials during a recession may require a different approach than during a period of economic growth. Here are a few strategies that may be effective:

Can Not Do Without

With less purchasing power, a recession has new challenges for businesses targeting Millennials.  Your offering needs to be in the ‘can-not do without’ category.

Millennials will find the money they need for something they want.  Remember, they are driven by experiences, so your product or service must translate into more profound experiences while helping people save money or make the most of their limited resources.

Utilize Social Media Marketing

Many millennials are always active online, so social media is the most effective way to reach them.  They respond to influencer marketing and collaborations like Instagram collabs.

Highlight Social Responsibility

Many millennials are concerned about environmental and social issues. If your company is firmly committed to sustainability or social responsibility, highlight this in your marketing.

Be Authentic

Millennials, like Gen X, value authenticity. Be transparent and authentic in your messaging and approach; this will help you build trust with millennials who value honesty and transparency.

Be Flexible

Be open to changes and flexible in your approach. With the recession’s uncertainty, it’s important to be ready to pivot and adapt your marketing strategy as needed.

Final Thoughts

Don’t assume your customers will always be the same. Customers change their spending habits and requirements. Your business can improve its sales and conversion rate by analyzing buyer behavior and changing its marketing strategy and message to appeal to new audiences.

Gen X and Millennials are the largest demographic groups spending their hard-earned money, but they, too, look for more value from their purchases during a recession.