“Upscale” Gen Xers and Baby Boomers Compared

July 29, 2014

This article is included in these additional categories:

Boomers & Older | Household Income | Retail & E-Commerce | Youth & Gen X

Shullman-Gen-X-Baby-Boomers-Luxury-Buying-Plans-July2014The Shullman Research Center has released a new report, this time focusing on the Gen X (34-48) generation. Having already released their report on Baby Boomers early this month, the new study provides an opportunity to compare and contrast the attitudes of these two generations, both of which have tremendous spending power. Indeed, while Baby Boomers control the largest share of total net worth dollars of any generation, Gen Xers have the most net worth and average household income on a per-adult basis. And like Baby Boomers, affluent Gen Xers are ready to spend on luxury goods. In fact, some 51% of “Upscale” Gen Xers plan to buy one or more luxuries in the next year, as are 52% of “Upscale” Baby Boomers. (“Upscale” adults refers to those who either have a personal net worth of at least $1 million or who live in a household with income of at least $250,000. Upscale Gen Xers account for about 1 in 10 Gen Xers overall, and about 12% of all Baby Boomers.)

While Upscale Gen Xers and Baby Boomers have similar expectations for luxury buying, the purchases they’re planning to make differ in some respects from their Boomer counterparts. Some of the largest gaps are for the following (all percentages relate to Upscale adults):

  • Buying premium beers or ales (28% of Gen Xers versus 15% of Baby Boomers);
  • Buying premium cosmetics (5% Gen Xers; 18% Baby Boomers);
  • Buying fine/premium wines (20% Gen Xers; 27% Baby Boomers);
  • Buying a piece of fine jewelry costing $500 or more (8% Gen Xers; 15% Baby Boomers);
  • Buying fine/premium champaign/sparkling wines (13% Gen Xers; 7% Baby Boomers); and
  • Buying designer collection clothing or accessories (18% Gen Xers; 9% Baby Boomers).

Interestingly, while 98% of Upscale Baby Boomers plan to travel for pleasure, a significantly smaller 65% of Upscale Gen Xers plan the same.

That’s certainly not a reflection of their ability to book travel, though. Indeed, both Upscale and “mass-market” Gen Xers (“mass-market” refers to all Gen Xers who don’t fit the Upscale definition) have higher average household incomes than their Baby Boomers counterparts. That’s supported by findings contained in a recent MarketingCharts Debrief concerning Baby Boomers [download page], in which Boomers were found to control the largest share of the nation’s discretionary spending, with Gen Xers boasting the largest per-household discretionary spend.

Upscale Gen Xers, it seems, simply have different priorities than their older counterparts. For example, among an assortment of financial goals, they’re more likely to want to become financially independent (31% vs. 25%), provide for their children’s college expenses (51% vs. 33%), buy a home (29% vs. 3%), and start a business (22% vs. 1%). And, interestingly, of various concerns listed, they’re far more likely than Upscale Baby Boomers to be worried about their own health (43% vs. 27%).

Overall, 77% of Upscale Gen Xers feel that they will be better off financially in the next 12 months, versus 55% of Upscale Baby Boomers. Moreover, 54% expect to spend more in the next 12 months, versus 22% of Upscale Baby Boomers.

About the Data: The insights and data presented in the report are based on the Shullman Luxury, Affluence and Wealth Pulse, Fall 2013 Preview Wave, conducted online between August 20 and August 27, 2013, among adults age 18 or older.

Five sample groups were surveyed: in addition to a representative national sample of adults (500 interviews), four household-income segments were targeted to obtain the following number of completed interviews:

  • $75,000 to $149,999: 256 interviews
  • $150,000 to $249,999: 253 interviews
  • $250,000 to $499,999: 253 interviews
  • $500,000 or more: 251 interviews

Additionally, 496 respondents ”” 263 men and 233 women ”” in the survey wave reported that their net worth was $1,000,000 or more and constitute the basis for the report.

Net worth is defined as “…the value of all assets owned such as investments, cash value of insurance, value of homes, bank accounts, autos and other vehicles, companies, real estate, vested value in pension plans, and any other valuables you own” minus “…the value of debts you may owe, such as home mortgages, loans, credit card balances, etc.” Millionaires in the report are defined as consumers with a personal net worth (their share of the household’s net worth) of $1 million or more.

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