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Meet Gen X

When Generation X (born 1966-1980) emerged into adulthood in the 1990s, the stereotype was that they were world-weary and disengaged. A little of that stereotype is evident in their values profile today – although it’s important to remember there are five distinct segments within this cohort. On average, these Canadians express little interest in community involvement, and score low on more sociable values; they are not too enthusiastic about learning from others through personal connections, or forming deep emotional bonds. Perhaps because they sometimes feel a little cut off from society, Gen Xers also seem a bit defeatist about big social challenges like fixing the environment: they’re fatalistic about the planet, and say they make few efforts to live a green lifestyle. As consumers, meanwhile, Gen Xers are enthusiastic: on average they say they like being seduced by advertising, and like to make spontaneous purchases.

Gen X Icon

Meet Gen X

When Generation X (born 1966-1980) emerged into adulthood in the 1990s, the stereotype was that they were world-weary and disengaged. A little of that stereotype is evident in their values profile today – although it’s important to remember there are five distinct segments within this cohort. On average, these Canadians express little interest in community involvement, and score low on more sociable values; they are not too enthusiastic about learning from others through personal connections, or forming deep emotional bonds. Perhaps because they sometimes feel a little cut off from society, Gen Xers also seem a bit defeatist about big social challenges like fixing the environment: they’re fatalistic about the planet, and say they make few efforts to live a green lifestyle. As consumers, meanwhile, Gen Xers are enthusiastic: on average they say they like being seduced by advertising, and like to make spontaneous purchases.

Click on a segment to learn more about the values that define them.

Thrill-Seeking
Materialists

Aimless
Dependants

Social
Hedonists

New
Aquarians

Autonomous
Post-Materialists

Security
Seeking Ascetics

Autonomous
Post-Materialists

Security
Seeking Ascetics

Thrill-Seeking Materialists

Thrill-Seeking Materialists

Who They Are

Showing off what they’ve got means a lot to this group of Gen Xers. Thrill-Seeking Materialists value social status, and they try to attract others’ notice and admiration both through high-paying jobs (ideally with impressive titles) and through conspicuous consumption. Although, as their name suggests, they have a taste for risks and thrills when it comes to fun and entertainment, these Gen Xers don’t always embrace novelty when it comes to society and the family; their social values reflect a traditional streak when it comes to gender and sexuality, for example.

Demographic Highlights

More likely to hold skilled jobs
Most urban Gen Xers
Least likely Gen Xers to live in Ontario

Aimless Dependants

Aimless Dependants

Who They Are

This is the segment that most closely aligns with stereotype of Gen Xers that prevailed in the 1990s, summed up by the simple phrase, ‘Whatever.’ Their values profile does not reveal strong enthusiasms for some of the sources of value that turn others on, such as community or even pleasure-seeking. For the Aimless Skeptics a job is just a paycheque, not a source of prestige or fulfilment. They do strive for a sense of security and stability in life; perhaps their fatalistic outlook leads them to believe that being slightly insulated from the world’s ups and downs is the best they can hope for. When it comes to spending, they express an occasional interest in conspicuous consumption, but in daily life, whatever is cheapest is probably fine. Whatever.

Demographic Highlights

Most likely Gen Xers to be immigrants
More likely to be male
More likely Gen Xers to live in Saskatchewan

Social Hedonists

Social Hedonists

Who They Are

Looking good and feeling good is the focus for these Gen Xers. They want the latest and greatest trends in every aspect of their lives, including the communities they live in; they like to be the first to try a new restaurant, a new flavour, a new product. If it doesn’t work out, on to the next novelty. Their social circles are high on their list of priorities and they are always on the lookout for some in-the-moment fun with friends, or friends of friends. They’re avid risk-takers and are much more concerned with getting a hold of the latest products than saving for their futures.

Demographic Highlights

Most likely Gen Xers to be married or common-law
Most likely Gen Xers to be highly educated (university or more)
Least likely Gen Xers to live in a rural community

New Aquarians

New Aquarians

Who They Are

These Gen Xers are critical, social-justice-seeking idealists. They believe all people deserve respect, and don’t like the idea of deferring to someone because of their status, seniority, or title. Although the New Aquarians are serious about plenty of social issues – they’re deeply concerned about the environment and about people who have been excluded or marginalized – they’re also always on the lookout for new experiences in life. Their work is important to their identities, and they’d never take a job they didn’t believe in.

Demographic Highlights

More likely to hold a post-graduate degree
Most likely Gen Xers to be separated or divorced
Most likely Gen Xers to earn a household income over $150K

Autonomous Post-Materialists

Autonomous Post-Materialists

Who They Are

This is one of the largest Gen X segments in Canada. Autonomous Post-Materialists are strongly motivated to have the freedom to do what they want; they’d rather do work they care about, but they don’t see work as integral to their identity – the most important characteristics for a job are flexibility and autonomy. When they have extra money, these Gen Xers are more likely to indulge in new experiences than in material goods they can show off to friends. Spontaneous by nature, they’re always on the lookout for an experience that will satisfy their quest for novelty and personal growth.

Demographic Highlights

Most likely Gen Xer to hold a college or vocational education
Most likely Gen Xer to live in an Atlantic province
Most likely Gen Xers to live in rural areas

Security Seeking Ascetics

Security Seeking Ascetics

Who They Are

These are the worriers of the Gen X cohort. Putting family and security above all else, this group craves consistency in everything they do. When it comes to their jobs, they’d like to gain some satisfaction from what they do, but financial security is far and away their top concern. Spending and instant gratification are among their lowest priorities, as these Gen Xers never stop saving to gain stability in their lives.

Demographic Highlights

More likely to be women
Most likely Gen Xers to live in the suburbs
Least likely Gen Xers to be single

Take our quiz to find out which social values segment you belong to

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