Boomers have dominated the housing market as 55+ buyers for the last several decades, but there’s a new generation in its mid-50s, and it’s time to remember them! Long called the forgotten generation or the sandwich generation, the oldest Gen Xers are turning 58 this year. The youngest Gen Xers are just 43, so for the next 12 years, this generation will be dodging AARP cards in the mail as they turn 55 and become the new 55+ active adult homebuyers.
Generation X lived through challenging events like economic crises, high rates of divorce, and the Vietnam war. Through these adversities, Gen Xers learned how to be self-reliant, resourceful, tenacious and daring.
What does this mean for home builders and developers?
Home builders and developers need to make note of some of the key differences that this homebuying demographic brings to the table as active adults.
What are some of the traits of Gen X?
Gen X generally refers to people born between the mid-1960s and the early 1980s, although the exact dates can vary depending on the source. Here are some common traits that are often associated with this generation:
Independent: Gen Xers are known for being independent and self-reliant. They grew up in a time of societal and economic change and often had to fend for themselves.
Tech-Savvy: Many Gen Xers were the first generation to grow up with personal computers and the Internet, and tend to be comfortable with technology.
Skeptical: Gen Xers are often described as being skeptical and distrusting of institutions and authority figures. They grew up during a time of political upheaval and economic uncertainty and may have a healthy dose of cynicism as a result.
Entrepreneurial: Gen Xers are known for being entrepreneurial and self-starting. They are often drawn to startups and small businesses, and are more likely to work for themselves than previous generations.
Flexible: Gen Xers tend to be flexible and adaptable, both in their personal and professional lives. They often juggle multiple responsibilities and roles, proving they are good at managing their time and resources.
Pragmatic: Gen Xers are often described as being practical and results-oriented. They value hard work and practical solutions and may be less idealistic than some other generations.
What do Gen Xers want in a 55+ home?
- Livable/functional floor plans: Homes must be functional and easy to maintain. Features like open floor plans, plenty of storage space, and low-maintenance finishes are attractive.
- More square footage in homes.
- Compartmentalized spaces: Gen Xers are 50/50 on open floor plan versus more compartmentalized plans, but many feel more secure in compartmentalized spaces.
- Flexible Spaces: Spaces off of the main living area are important (work, hobbies, etc.).
- Nature: Natural light and connection to the outdoors.
- Multigenerational plans: May have kids and parents living with them.
- Tech features: Smart home system, high-speed internet and other tech features.
- Energy efficiency: Environmentally conscious and value sustainable living. This group looks for energy-efficient features such as Energy Star-rated appliances, high-efficiency heating and cooling systems and solar panels.
- Location: They value a home’s location, both in terms of convenience and quality of life. Homes in neighborhoods with good schools, access to shopping and dining, and a sense of community are important.
What Community Features do Gen Xers want in a 55+ Neighborhood?
Fewer amenities with intentional focuses:
- Wellness and health are important.
- Intentionality versus a giant space.
- Quiet room, massage room, meditation room, and room for personal appointments.
- Outdoor living: Connection to nature is increasingly important. Natural décor.
- Space planning diversity: Different chair heights, varied positioning of sitting areas – side by side and face to face.
- Socialization: Want a hotel lobby feel, not a restaurant feel. Feel secure in rough spaces, open ceilings, exposed beams and brick. Think boutique hotel lobby.
- Nature: Natural light and connection to the outdoors.
What Neighborhood Features do Gen Xers Look For?
Gen Xers value neighborhood amenities that offer convenience, entertainment, and quality of life. Here are some examples of neighborhood amenities that Gen Xers may prioritize:
Walkability: Prefer walkable neighborhoods where they can easily access restaurants, shops and other amenities on foot.
Parks and green spaces: Value access to parks and other green spaces where they can enjoy outdoor activities such as walking, biking or playing with their kids and pets.
Fitness facilities: Prioritize their health and fitness, so having access to gyms, yoga studios, or other fitness facilities is important to them.
Entertainment options: Appreciate having entertainment options such as movie theaters, live music venues or sports stadiums in surrounding neighborhoods.
Schools: Access to quality schools is often a top priority. This may include both public and private schools, as well as preschools and daycare centers.
Shopping and dining options: Desire a variety of shopping and dining options nearby, including grocery stores, specialty shops and local restaurants.
Transportation options: Value neighborhoods with good transportation options, including public transit, bike lanes and walkable streets.
What are some tips for how to market homes to Gen X?
If you’re looking to market to Gen X, here are some tips that may help you better reach and connect with this audience:
Use a Mix of Traditional and Digital Media: Gen Xers are often comfortable with both traditional and digital media, so it can be effective to use a mix of both — direct mail, print ads, email campaigns and social media advertising.
Be Authentic and Transparent: Gen Xers tend to be skeptical of marketing messages that feel too slick or sales-y. They respond better to brands that are authentic and transparent with straightforward, honest communication.
Highlight Value and Quality: Many Gen Xers are established in their careers and have families or other responsibilities. They may be willing to pay more for products or services that offer value and quality. Focus on the benefits of your product or service and how it can improve their lives.
Emphasize Practicality: Gen Xers tend to be pragmatic and results-oriented, so marketing messages that emphasize practicality and real-world benefits are effective. Highlighting features such as ease of use, durability, and time-saving can be especially compelling to this audience.
Use Nostalgia Sparingly: While many Gen Xers have fond memories of their youth, they may not respond well to marketing messages that rely too heavily on nostalgia or references to their younger years. If you do use nostalgia in your marketing, make sure it feels authentic and relevant to the product or service you’re promoting.
Be Inclusive: Gen Xers are a diverse group, and they appreciate brands that are inclusive and diverse as well. Show a range of people and experiences, and ensure your messages are relevant and resonant across different cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds.
Still wondering how to reach Gen X with effective new home marketing? Give us a shout! Our knowledgeable team will develop tactics to place your homebuilding or development company’s active adult communities in front of Gen X! Contact Us. Click here for more information on Marketing to the Generations.