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Last week, Canvas8 hosted its first Breakfast Briefing of the year as part of an ongoing effort to connect our members with thought leaders from our network. We invited some of the best creative minds in London to Quo Vadis in Soho to discuss the tricky middle-child that is Generation X. Tiffanie Darke – former editor at Sunday Times Style Magazine and author of new book Now We Are 40 – led a discussion on how Gen X influenced the social, political and cultural landscape. From Britpop to the Primrose Hill set, we explored what's happened to these anti-establishment trailblazers now they’ve hit 40, and what this means for brands attempting to engage with them. Learn about how we’re applying our research around Generation Cool, and explore how brands can better serve them now they’ve hit 40.

At the briefing, we chatted about Thatcherism, feminism and ecstasy…all before 9am! One of the main takeaways was the idea of Gen X playing peacemaker between hyper-connected Gen Yers, and the oft-perceived selfish Boomers. “Gen X are a generation that have one foot in digital and one foot in analogue,” says Darke. But the disparity between the two age groups isn’t just to do with technology, ”One of the responsibilities for Generation X is to make that link between Boomers and Millennials, as they don't really like or understand each other. Millennials are cross with Boomers for having all the houses and for drawing these big fat pensions and not paying it forward for them.” These tensions has never been clearer until after 2016’s Brexit vote, where Boomers were demonised for having ruined the future of Gen Y.

A mortgage and kids doesn’t mean compromising on style A mortgage and kids doesn’t mean compromising on style
Thomas Hawk (2015) ©

But as generations become more fluid – 80% of Britons think ’middle age’ is harder to define now than it used to be – the ability to Snapchat with the young’uns and talk pensions with oldies shouldn’t be underestimated, and means that Gen X hold a lot of power in mediating both parties. After all, those aged 35-55 have the highest weekly expenditure – with 79% of them saying they’ll spend extra to make their lives easier, even in sectors as youth-fixated as fashion and beauty where they hold 31% of spending power. 

This new ‘middle-youth’ really does deserve more attention from brands wanting to engage people’s wallets – and giving more consideration to this generation could be a profitable investment if brands can target them in a way that resonates well. If you want to discover whether these ‘latchkey kids’ are still chasing their independence, or if drug-fuelled raves really been replaced with dinner and diapers, you can read the full report on Canvas8 here.

Hannah Callaghan is an account executive at Canvas8, which specialises in behavioural insights and consumer research. When she’s not helping clients navigate the deepest layers of the Canvas8 Library, she’s probably binge-watching RuPaul’s Drag Race or befriending other people’s dogs.


13 Apr 17
3 min read

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