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SymphonyIRI Quarterly MarketPulse Survey Finds Gen-Xers Practicing Frugal Ways

Posted: October 24, 2012

Generation X—those born after the post-World War II baby boomers—generally has a positive outlook on the economy, but that doesn’t mean they are free spenders. In fact, they are more frugal than baby boomers and seniors, according to SymphonyIRI’s Q3 2012 MarketPulse, the company’s ongoing survey series that analyzes consumer sentiment about the economy and how the evolving economy is impacting their attitudes, perceptions and CPG shopping behaviors.

On the surface, it may seem Gen-Xers have more in common with boomers, but the reality is that they share many of the same penny-pitching, tech-savvy traits of millennials. In addition, SymphonyIRI is releasing the latest results from its Shopper Sentiment Index, which finds that, in general, U.S. consumers have been demonstrating an increasingly positive financial outlook during the third quarter.

“From seniors and millennials to Hispanics and moms, our MarketPulse survey has allowed us to examine a vast array of critical consumer segments during the last year,” says Susan Viamari, editor of Times & Trends, SymphonyIRI. “Now, we are filling in another piece of CPG marketers’ consumer puzzle by checking the pulse of Gen-Xers with our latest survey. Sandwiched between baby boomers and millennials, Gen-Xers are aged 35–44 and are sometimes referred to as the ‘ignored generation.’ However, these consumers have well-established careers and families, and their spending power should not be overlooked by CPG retailers and manufacturers.”

Cheap but Cheerful

Gen-Xers were graduating from college and entering the adult world after the 1987 stock market crash and the recession that followed, so many were left jobless and moved in with their parents. This somewhat “bleak inheritance” shaped their future financial attitudes and shopping behaviors much like The Great Recession has influenced millennials.

Even though Gen-Xers are more financially optimistic versus the average shopper—24% think their financial situation has improved during the last 12 months and 37% feel their finances will improve during the coming year—this generation is very cost conscious and careful about their purchases. According to MarketPulse survey results of Gen-Xers:

  • 37% buy brands that are on sale rather than their preferred brands versus 45% of millennials, 27% of boomers and 22% of seniors;
  • 33% choose products based on loyalty card discounts versus 35% of millennials, 25% of boomers and 16% of seniors; and
  • 20% steer clear of certain aisles to avoid unplanned purchases versus 22% of millennials, 15% of boomers and 11% of seniors.