Technology-Savvy Generation X Called Perfect Market for Banks

Article excerpt

Lazy. Apolitical. Short of cash. That's the conventional wisdom about Generation X.

While sneaker, jeans, and soda marketing executives may know better, bankers have been slow to direct marketing efforts at this prickly group.

However, Generation Xers may be just the market for banks, which rely increasingly on electronic transactions to keep people out of branches.

"ATMs are just fine with this crowd. So is banking by computer and banking by telephone," said Karen Ritchie, the executive vice president and managing director of Detroit-based General Motors Media Works. "They are unquestionably the market of the future."

Speaking at the Bank Marketing Association's annual forum, held here last week, Ms. Ritchie said Generation Xers are concerned about their IRAs, while at the same age baby boomers were worrying about Bob Dylan's decision to go electric.

She said, too, that they are more serious about their work and about saving money.

"With them, there is none of this working on a commune in New Mexico or hanging around Haight-Asbury," she told an audience of about 500 marketing executives. "They're really out working."

Defined as those aged 14 to 34, Generation X can claim some 80 million members. That, she said, is about 10 million more than the baby boom. About 60% of Generation Xers have at least a high school diploma, making it the best-educated generation in history, and many others are still in high school.

And they save, in part by living with their parents longer, Ms. Ritchie said.

"This is the group of people I would like to sell a car to. …