Friday, February 23, 2024

Gen X is Finally Getting the Attention of Marketers. Make sure your dairy foods speak to their needs!


Finally, the time has come. Marketers are acknowledging that Gen X’s dollars matter. (By the way, Gen X, that’s me.) Gen X, also known as the “lost generation,” is sandwiched between Baby Boomers and Millennials. While the smallest of the three cohorts, Gen X has become the focus of new product innovation by food and beverage marketers. They recognize that these consumers in their 40s and 50s, many of whom are in their prime-earning years, are willing to spend on products to assist with defying the aging process. 

And, at the same time, they are willing to invest in brands that assist with restoring confidence and a sense of stability in their young adult children who missed proms, graduations and so many more milestones during the pandemic. Gen X also wants to save the planet, something that Baby Boomers managed to put in jeopardy because of their excessive nature. Think McMansion.  

Chicago-based Mintel predicts that in 2024, brands will be pursuing Gen X for many of these reasons. Mintel explains in its recently published report on this cohort that while a larger share of Gen X identifies as being a rule follower and aims to fit in, there’s an active subgroup that wants to stand out, providing strong fodder for brand outreach. Mintel found that almost three-fifths of American Gen Xers agree with the statement “my life isn’t where I thought it would be at this point.” 

Brands can address this reality in multiple ways. One way is to lean into offerings that make Gen X feel good about where they are and what they are doing. Think philanthropies, social impacts, save the planet, etc. And since the pandemic, Gen X is very much into open discussions about mental health and taking time for “family care,” something many Boomers (sorry to offend some of you) cannot even relate to, as you race to the pickle ball court and ignore your Millennial offspring struggling to get an award for, well, almost everything.

Gen X did not get awards. We did not even get a snack after school unless we foraged for ourselves. We were the original latch-key kids. We are ready for some attention, some TLC. And, we will buy it up. I promise.   

“Marketing to Gen X requires adeptly navigating a budget-conscious consumer that values quality,” said Carol Wong-Li, director-consumers and culture at Mintel. “Gen X likes nice things, but they want to feel responsible about spending on them. They are a generation that gravitates toward following the rules. Brands can celebrate this investment in responsibility and help Gen X push beyond boundaries by establishing a comfort zone of parameters.”

General Mills is on it…and actually has been since Gen X women entered the work force and could speak with their food dollar. The company’s Yoplait brand debuted the “pink lid” marketing campaign in 1997, when the first Gen X women were graduating university. Those pink lids are the “Save Lids to Save Lives” campaign, which raises money for breast cancer research. It’s one of the most notable food campaigns for this cause, and one we’ve known all of our adult life. 

The brand is at it again, at a time when many of Gen X’s daughters are entering the work force and starting their own families. Yoplait is spreading positivity, one lid at a time, from now until the end of March, or until the special lids sell out. The new campaign focuses on boosting confidence in women of all ages through the sharing of compliments. (This is something Gen X invented. Think of all the niceties on Friends.)

On the inside of the special-edition lids, there’s one of more than 120 unique compliments. From empowering affirmations such as “Your confidence inspires everyone,” to heartfelt declarations such as “You radiate joy,” each compliment transforms every interaction with Yoplait into more than just a delicious treat; it becomes a beacon of positivity illuminating the day.

This positivity doesn’t stop there. Yoplait is encouraging women to spread the good vibes by sharing the compliments they find on their yogurt lids, creating a wave of encouragement that can brighten someone’s day.

Morgaine Gaye, a Food Futurologist based in the U.K., recently said food companies that use 2024 as a year to “rechart” will find 2026 to be the big payoff year. She encourages marketers to stop relying on “big data” and think ahead. 

“There’s no data on the future,” she said. But, we can look at the changes consumers have made since the pandemic and make projections. 

“The way of the future is to focus on “reduce, reuse, recycle and regenerate,” she said. 
These are actions that started with Gen X. It’s time to market to us, please.

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