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May 2006

As the Baby Boomer generation ages and moves steadily toward retirement, jewelers and other luxury marketers are turning an eye to the next generation.

That generation, dubbed Generation X, and now in their 30s, is a smaller group, but today holds the key to the next decade of retailing. Their influence is felt in the continuing move toward casual office attire and individualized looks, and the prevalence of high-and-low mixing.

In fashion, that has been seen with wildly popular designer-for-the-masses collections for stores like Target and H and M. In fine jewelry, that trend has driven the increase in mixing diamonds and other precious materials with things like rubber and leather.

Generation X was the pioneering generation of online consumers, and have different needs in-store than previous generations. They are product savvy and known as skeptics.

The mindset of Generation X is one that jewelers must understand, a fact recently brought up by both CIBJO (The World Jewellery Federation) and a leading marketing research company.

Gaetano Cavalieri, CIBJO president, warned his industry colleagues that global jeweler marketing efforts should focus on education and marketing to younger people so they develop a penchant for jewelry and continue to buy jewelry at a later age, when they have more disposable income available.

Cavalieri made his remarks at the Fourth Dubai City of Gold Conference, which was organized by the Dubai Gold and Jewelry Group and was held April 24-25.

“There is a tendency in our industry to focus predominantly upon a middle-aged audience, because it is reaching the height of its earning capacity. But, if we do not invest more effort in developing a youthful and trendy fine jewelry culture, we will discover that those consumers are not as attuned to buying jewelry when they reach middle age,” Cavalieri noted.

Unity Marketing, meanwhile, recognizing the power of this next generation, is leading a comprehensive study of Gen X for luxury goods companies. According to research, in 2005, luxury consumers of the Gen X generation, born from 1965 to 1976, spent 6.3 percent more buying luxuries than their affluent Baby Boomer counterparts. Gen X households averaged an income of $52,781 as compared with Boomers’ average of $49,672.

Though the Baby Boom generation continues to spend on luxury goods, marketers must attract the younger Gen X consumer in the coming years, the company says.

Unity Marketing is planning to conduct a new consumer insights study to investigate the mindset and consumer psychology of the GenX and Baby Boomer generations, their different attitudes, and their impacts on luxury goods and services.

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