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Generational Differences Extend to Economic Challenges and Retirement

I’ve spoken at length about the differences between Matures, Boomers, Gen Xers, and Gen Y Generations and the need to tailor your marketing message when you’re targeting a generational demographic. As our country slowly comes back from the worst economy since the late 1920s, changes in the economic challenges each generation faces are emerging.

Matures entered and exited the workforce with pensions and social security. For the most part, they have enjoyed a comfortable retirement. So too, have the Boomers. Many are retiring or about to retire and have had the luxury of owning their home, along with social security and if not a pension, a pretty fat 401k plan.

Retirement and getting older isn’t looking quite as prosperous for Generation X or the Gen Y.

Tough times hit Generation Xers beginning in 2008. Used to borrowing from their 401k plans to pay down debt, Generation Xers saw those 401k plans lose up to 45% of their value. As if that wasn’t enough, the housing bubble burst, leaving many owing more than the value of their homes. Finally, Gen Xers may not be moving up the career ladder as planned, as many Boomers stay in the workforce longer. Less income and more debt have made retirement a bleak picture for Gen X.

Gen Y is facing their own challenges. College costs have risen, meaning Millennials graduate with more debt. Even with diploma in hand, it’s tough for Millennials to find a job despite the economy slowly gaining steam and companies adding employees. Once they do secure a job, it becomes difficult to contribute to available 401k plans because of student loan debt. Finally, more continue to rent than buy a home as tightened lending restrictions force them to come up with a large down payment.

These generational differences make the thought of retirement very different. So as you market to the generations, remember that a one-size-fits-all picture of a rosy retirement may not connect with skeptical Gen Xers and Gen Y the way it does with Matures and Boomers.

(Image: mediapartners.com)


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