NU Online News Service, Nov. 17, 2003, 11:15 a.m. EST – Generation X, born between 1961 and 1981, is America’s smartest consumer group, says Ann Fishman. “They’ve watched so many commercials, they can see right through marketing hype,” she says.
So when selling financial services products to Gen Xers, including retirement products, marketers must take a second look at everything they know about sales, Fishman says.
The president of Generational-Targeted Marketing Corp., a New Orleans consulting firm that focuses on generational issues, says there are six generations with different mindsets, attitudes, values and lifestyles. Although it might be tempered by age or current events, this mindset is formed by their youthful years, so fundamentally it will never change, Fishman says.
“This is key for financial advisors to understand,” she says.
Although there are basic differences between what Gen X men and women want, they are equally knowledgeable, Fishman adds.
“So financial advisors should make sure to show women the proper respect as worthy consumers,” Fishman says. “They are equal to men in their financial savvyness and their ability and inclination to buy.”
And women of all generations buy 80% of all products in the country, she says.
Gen X women also want “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” Fishman says.
They know financial advisors sell products for a profit. They also know whether they are in the market for what the advisor wants to sell.
“She wants an honest, straightforward approach, no hype, no spin,” Fishman says. “Don’t tie this one up with a pink ribbon; they perceive it as old style.”
This is not a loyal generation either, she says.
“That means you have to earn their respect each and every time,” Fishman explains. “They expect you to do your job properly, or they will find someone who will.”
Gen X women don’t expect to be treated as though they are special, as baby boomers do. But they do expect an advisor to do her job right, she says.
This includes mentoring. Gen X women were latch-key children, Fishman says. This means they are children of divorce, step-parents, working parents and one-parent families.
There were not enough adults around to mentor this generation in financial matters, so they expect an advisor to guide them in this area. They don’t, however, expect to be patronized, Fishman says.
“They’re very savvy and know to continue being savvy, they need to continue learning. They expect [a financial advisor] to be part of this lifelong learning,” she says.
Gen X women also expect an advisor to be Internet-savvy and will visit her Web page.
“They give you seven seconds on your homepage,” Fishman says.
“The links must be clear, there should be no unnecessary copy [and] there should be more visuals than copy.”