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Presented by WGSN: Gen X and Z: Separated at Birth

Trend forecasting agency WGSN took the stage at PROJECT Las Vegas's N:OW Forum, presenting on the surprising similarities of the two demographics that bookend Millennials, and how brands can better engage with them.

Editor's Note: All copy and imagery provided by WGSN

This is the tale of two cohorts, separated by an entire generation...of millenials, no less. Gen X (born between 1965-1980) and Gen Z (1995-2011), despite the separation, are actually very close in outlook and attitude - making them prime for brands to target with one efficient strategy.

  • Gen-X is a largely overlooked cohort and there are huge opportunities for brands to embrace both Compressionalists and Punks/Panks (professional aunts/uncles with no kids).
  • Rather than speaking broadly to Gen-Z, a generation that defies stereotypes and makes its own rules, brands should target two micro-segments within the cohort: Gen We and Gen Me.
  • Gen-X and Gen-Z are remarkably similar in attitude and outlook, with both generations defined by technology, fluidity and civic mindedness
  • An XZ approach is the key to reaching multiple demographics in one swift push
  • XZ strategies include:
    • Harnessing the power of retro nostalgia - The past has infiltrated the present as Gen-Xers look to relive their childhoods and Gen Z pretend to live in bygone eras they never experienced. See the following brands for inspiration:
      • Lazy Oaf X Daria - A nostalgic clothing line recently brought Daria’s nihilist attitude to life. The sardonic character invokes nostalgia for those old enough to have seen her show, but her bleak outlook also time-travels seamlessly.
      • Spotify “Listen Like You Used To” Campaign - In a bid to set tongues wagging from Gen X, quintessential Gen Z brand Spotify launched a campaign to conjure up nostalgia for tracks from the 80s and 90s.
      • Adidas - The classic tracksuit makes a return, this time with bold graphics and colors. A split stripe design is featured on the half-zip pullover jacket, with branding falling across the chest. The collection comes in two colorways - a khaki version and a green version, which features a more tapered cut for those who prefer a slimmer fit.
    • Tapping into the third space market - While Gen Z and Millennials are defined by digital connectivity and smartphone adaptation, Gen X is also tech astute.  Xers came up in the console gaming boom of the late 1970s, the revitalizing of the home game market by Nintendo in 1985 and of course, the first to play on the Sega Genesis in 1988. Brands that play in this Third Space (where people spend their time between home and work and/or home and school) are set to win. For inspiration, look to:
      • Moschino - created a capsule collection with pieces inspired by The Sims and created digital collection to be purchased in the game to dress your sim. 
      • Carlings Digital Collection - a collection of clothing items that only exists digitally. 
    • Embracing cause marketing - From feminism to climate change, Gen X and Gen Z consumers are latching on to causes they care about and expect the brands they support to do that same. See brands like:
      • Lush - Employs creative solutions to make a positive impact on the planet, from the invention of the first-ever solid shampoo bar or their signature ‘naked packaging’ or their hosting in-store ‘Soap Boxes’ where customers can talk about issues they are passionate about. 
      • Everlane - Partners with ethical factories and shares “radical transparency” with consumers, even sharing the true cost of every product they make.
      • Skittles - To honor the LGBTQ pride celebrations in London last year, the stripped off its signature rainbow colors.
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