Gen X is the most influential generation, says Yahoo in a new study, but it’s also somewhat forgotten about, as America’s “middle child”. Citing data showing that Gen X has the highest median income and controls close to one-third of total income dollars, Yahoo delves into the media behaviors and attitudes of what it says are “influential but overlooked” consumers.


Based on a survey of more than 2,000 adults – including more than 850 Gen Xers (35-54) – the report indicates that 51% of Gen Xers feel that they are part of the “vanishing” middle class. As parents, almost half worry that their kids are spoiled, while more than 8 in 10 feel that it’s important that they instill some sense of financial understanding in their children.

Interestingly, two-thirds of Gen Xers feel that they work a lot harder than the Millennial generation, while only 38% of Millennials (18-34) surveyed feel that their generation works harder than older generations. Perhaps that’s not too surprising in light of other research showing how dim a view Millennials have of their own generation.

Nevertheless, Gen Xers (13%) were only half as likely as Millennials (26%) to say they increased the amount of time they worked after having kids. Indeed, 81% of Gen X parents say that a work-life balance is important.

Turning to technology and content engagement, the report demonstrates that Gen Xers tend to multitask more than Millennials during prime time, but that it stunts their emotional response to content more so than for Millennials. When it comes to content, the idea of Gen X as the middle child emerges: they’re in between Millennials and Boomers (55-64) in terms of their likelihood to consume their top categories of content, ranging from news, to weather, music, food and cooking and technology. The only categories in which they’re the most likely to consume content are sports and travel (each by only a small margin).

Gen Xers appear to be avid consumers of content online, though. Three-quarters do so when on social media, and almost one in 3 consume content posted by brands or companies. Meanwhile, close to 8 in 10 researched products online in the month prior to the survey, with the most commonly-researched products being clothing or apparel (37%), electronics (32%), entertainment items (26%) and food or beverages (26%).

The Yahoo study finds some interesting results in analyzing adults’ receptiveness to advertising. While one-quarter of Gen Xers agree that they feel like their generation is often forgotten about by advertisers, an almost equal share of Millennials (24%) feel the same way. Given the extreme amounts of attention paid to Millennials by marketers, this is surprising to say the least.

Just as notable: Boomers (21%) were the least likely to agree – albeit by a small margin – that their generation is often forgotten about by advertisers. That runs counter to MarketingCharts research on advertising to Baby Boomers, which has found older Americans feeling ignored by advertisers despite controlling the vast majority of disposable income in the US.

In a similar question, roughly one-third of respondents to the Yahoo survey from each generation agreed that “it’s about time advertisers recognized that my generation shops too”. Here again the lack of differences between younger and older generations is surprising.

In other advertising-related attitudes, the study notes that:

  • 30% of Gen Xers are more likely to click on an ad aimed specifically at their generation, compared to 37% of Millennials and 23% of Boomers; and
  • 27% of Gen Xers are more likely to purchase a product from a brand whose ad is targeted specifically at their generation, compared to 27% of Millennials and 17% of Boomers.

The study notes that in each of the attitudinal statements about advertising, agreement was higher among Gen X parents than among Gen Xers overall.

Recommendations for creative strategy and messaging include:

  • Indulging Gen Xers’ “kick my feet up” fantasies;
  • Kid/tech dilemmas and bonding moments;
  • Nostalgia with a deeper purpose; and
  • Chin-up inspiration.