When I was broke in college, I would walk into fast food joints and tell them they forgot an item from my drive-thru order. They just handed me whatever I wanted, every time, without fail.
Was it stealing? Yes. And I’ll answer to St. Peter for it someday. But I needed to eat.
Tara and I used to set all of our clocks ahead to convince our kids it was later, so they would go to bed and we could watch primetime Steeler games in peace. Worked like a charm.
Was it lying? Of course. But it’s the Steelers.
And those aren’t even the most conniving stories I have.
Gaming the system may not be a uniquely-Gen X proclivity but my 40-to-50-something sisters and brothers are the masters. We were latchkey kids, told we would amount to nothing, victims of divorce rates never seen before or since. We had to find our own way. Nobody taught us much respect for the rules.
If you’ve never read Neil Howe and William Strauss, you must. They coined the term Millennial but don’t hold that against them. They also discovered that generations follow a consistent four-archetype pattern, where each cohort is a predictable byproduct of its predecessors. It’s uncanny.
Generation X is the archetype of pragmatics, revolutionaries, and entrepreneurs. George Washington and JD Rockefeller, long ago. Bezos and Hastings, today. The shrewdest of people who broke the rules and altered the future.
Conventional wisdom says that Millennials are today’s disrupters, the cord-cutters.
But are they? Our data say otherwise.
Gen Xers revolted against the cable bundle first, because we pay the bills and we know a rip-off when we see it. Many Millennials will never know the tether of a cord.
Millennials may have put the nail in malls and video stores but Gen X built the coffins. We stopped feeding our kids high-fructose corn syrup and Pop-Tarts; instead, hummus and kale chips. Millennials will only know a world where that’s doctrine.
Marketers are obsessed with Millennials and Baby Boomers, as they should be. They dwarf Gen X in size. Boomers are blowing every last penny on their way out the door and Millennials will have unprecedented spending capacity one day.
But don’t sleep on Gen X. What we lack in numbers, we make up in cunning and resourcefulness. If the world undergoes titanic changes in the next decade – and it will – expect Xers to drive it. Mark my word.
Here’s what we’re seeing right now:
Investor confidence jumped a bit in August. It was the first our index stopped sliding in a couple months but still far from the high watermark in January. The smart people at PNC did a much better job of explaining why than I ever could. Something about wage growth and tight labor markets.
U.S. Hispanics are even afraid to go to the doctor. I read horrible stories yesterday about Hispanic families in the Carolinas who weren’t going to hurricane shelters, for fear of being deported or separated. If that doesn’t bother you, I don’t know what to say. We saw changing consumer behavior among Hispanics immediately after the 2016 election – they largely withdrew for a period of time – but it appears to be affecting healthcare too. Overall, doctor visits among U.S. Hispanic adults are way down, while the number who say they haven’t visited a doctor at all are way up, at a rate nearly 40% higher than the general population. Maybe they’re all just getting super-healthy all of a sudden, you say? Umm…no.
Even on their phones, people still prefer retailers’ websites over mobile apps. Nobody reading this will be shocked to hear that mobile retail is on the rise. Duh. But it’s interesting to see how much the use of retailer-specific apps is increasing. 43% of U.S. consumers say they have at least one retailer app installed on their smartphone. Most interesting to me is that even among people who have installed a retailer’s app on their phone, the majority still say they use the retailer’s mobile site more frequently when shopping. Sounds like a user experience problem to me.
Loyalty programs – at least in grocery retail – don’t necessarily breed loyalty. A friend asked me to look into this topic and the results weren’t what I expected. In short, well over half of people who have a loyalty program from a grocer DON’T let it influence where they shop. That said, Millennials are much more likely to only shop where they have a loyalty incentive. Maybe that means the trend will grow over time. Or maybe it will reverse as Millennials’ price sensitivity decreases with age (and rising income).
People like to watch other people play video games and I was apparently a huge trendsetter in college 20 years ago. Over 11% of Americans aged 13+ watch eSports on a daily or weekly basis, up from 8% just a year ago. That number jumps to 22% among Gen Z. I can’t even estimate the number of hours (millions?) I spent watching my fraternity brothers play “Madden” (after I invariably lost) back in the day. I was really ahead of the curve. Incidentally, eSports’ viewership is off the charts among Hispanics, perhaps due to the fact that they’re afraid to leave the house, even to see the doctor. Sorry, that whole thing pisses me off, if you can’t tell.
Some Random (Dancing) Stats of the Week
- 34% of Americans say they don’t dance, 66% do
- 44% of people don’t like to dance, meaning 10% do it anyway (+1)
- 31% of people have danced for fun in the past month
- 35% of people have taken a dance class at some point in their life
- 11% say they have a signature dance move
- Best 80s Dance Movie: “Dirty Dancing” 41%, “Footloose” 24%
I hope you get to dance for fun this weekend. Unless you hate it, then I hope you don’t.
Hoping you’re well.