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Membership Management

Understanding Generation X: A Guide for Associations

MemberClicks Avatar MemberClicks March 23, 2023
Table of Contents
4 min read

You hear a lot about Baby Boomers, Millennials, and as of late, Generation Z. But there’s one generation missing in there: Generation X.

Who is Gen X?

Generation X includes all folks born between 1961 and 1980 – and they play a BIG part in your association’s membership.

For reference, the generation names and timeline looks a little something like this:

Baby Boomer – 1946 – 1964

Generation X – 1965 -1979

Millennials – 1980 – 1994

Generation Z – 1995 – 2012

Gen Alpha – 2013 – 2025

Generation X grew up with personal computers and watched as technology boomed over their life. They experienced a culture of acceleration unlike any other. This generation grew up by their own rules, without much supervision, before the world was overly connected to the internet and technology.

Understanding the members of this generation and what they care about will help you speak to them properly.

Gen X and associations

In 2023, Gen X are 43 – 58 years. This age is key for association demographics because they represent the majority of leaders of today. For professional association especially, Gen X is stepping into the role that baby Boomers had for years. But Baby Boomers are retiring now, and Gen X now makes up over 50% of leadership roles around the world.

For professional associations especially, there’s a major potential here for new members.

Common characteristics of Gen X

Value people/relationships more so than work – Gen X-ers grew up with workaholic parents (the Baby Boomers). Because of that, they care more about their personal lives and maintaining a healthy work/life balance.

Care about efficiency – Gen X-ers don’t like to waste time. They value productivity and like getting tasks done – quickly!

Appreciate humor – For the most part, Gen X-ers like humor. They like laid-back environments and fairly upbeat messages.

Entrepreneurial spirits – Gen X is known for their entrepreneurial and driven personalities. If you’re a professional association or chamber, they probably make up a big part of your membership. And if they don’t, then you’re missing out on a LARGE number of potential members

Tips for engaging Generation X for your association

Here’s the top tips for engaging with Gen X and securing them as new members.

Provide them with opportunities to hang out and mingle

Gen X-ers don’t want their lives to revolve around work. In fact, the independent Millennials often take the credit for being the generation of boundaries, but Gen Xers led the way.

To get them to show up after hours, provide them with fun opportunities to get to know their peers and make events as social as possible. Happy hours, dinners, family nights, and theme nights (more on that later!) will help bring your Gen Xers out into your events.

Keep it simple

Remember, Gen Xers value productivity. If you want them to engage with you, you must keep things simple – your meetings, your communications, your payment processes, etc.

If you’re communicating with them on any type of topic – association update, event promotions, industry news, etc – be clear and concise with them. Tell them what they need to know, when they need to know it in a way they want to hear it.

Member engagement surveys are a great way to stay in tune with what your members want. In your next member needs assessment survey, as them how they want to be engaged with. Use your AMS to build member list segmentations and communicate with people how they tell you they want to be communicated with.

Incorporate humor into your messages

Gen X loved Weird Al, sitcoms, one liners and silly movies. Don’t underestimate their sense of humor and how much they love to laugh.

If you want to grab the attention of your Gen X members, humor is the way to go. That said, be smart about when you use it and what type of messages you use it in. But, humor and that more personal, casual tone may help you connect with these members.

Lean on nostalgia

A study on YouTube habits with Gen X showed that 75% of the videos they watch are about the past. Music, people, events, pop culture and commercials from their young adult hood are particularly popular.

Prince, Kurt Cobain, Biully Idol, The Breakfast Club, Muhammad Ali, Winona Ryder and many others are bound to make an immediate connection to these members. Theme nights, play on words in your marketing and celebrating icons moments will help you connect with Gen X

Focus on leadership training and development

As we’ve said, Gen X is the generation of boundaries and work-life balance. But they are also the generation of self improvement, entrepreneurship, leadership and professional development. The more you empower the education and development of these members, the happier they’ll be with your association.

Keep this in mind when planning events. Fun, engaging and educational events will do well with this audience.

Gen X: A gem for associations

Now just as your Gen X members have unique characteristics, so do your Baby Boomer members, your Millennial members, and your Gen Z members. Are you catering to those different likes and interests? Not sure how to? Check out our free guide, How to Engage Different Generations at Your Association, below!

Free Member Retention Guide

Ready to retain members and keep them coming back forever and ever? This guide will teach you everything you need to know about member retention. We cover all the basics, like the first steps to member retention and how to map out your member journey. From there, we dive a bit deeper into retention tips.