What Renters Want with Jessica Fiur: What About Gen X?

Why is this large market ignored in apartment marketing?

By Jessica Fiur, Managing Editor

jfiur thumbnailPoor, poor Gen X. No one seems to care about them, especially when we’re talking about apartments. It’s all, “What Do Millennials Want in an Apartment?” or “How to Attract Millennial Renters” or “Millennials: Tips to Easily Snag One Using Just a Smart Phone, a Beard and Some Artisanal ‘Bean-to-Bar’ $20 Chocolate That Really Tastes No Different From a Hershey Bar.”

(PS—That’s not to say these articles aren’t informative. Here’s a great one on MHN.)

And when people aren’t talking about Millennials (which is rare), they’re talking about Boomers and how they’re downsizing and renting again. Even Gen Z, those up-and-coming renters, are getting a piece of the action. After all, if someone can crack the code about what Gen Z will look for in an apartment, then they can start target marketing, start upgrading apartments or build them their perfect communities from the ground up so it’s ready when those kids come of renting age.

But what about Gen X?

Reality sure does bite when you're ignore in the apartment market. (Realty Bites was a movie from the '90s about Gen X.) (Sigh, whatever, like you're so funny.)

Reality sure does bite when you’re ignored in the apartment market. (Reality Bites was a movie from the ’90s about Gen X.) (Sigh, whatever, like you’re so funny.)

Look, we get it. Millennials are the age group most likely to rent right now, so it makes sense that apartment marketers would gear their ads to them. And with the rapidly changing technology, today’s renter wants different things than renters in the past.

But, could we be ignoring a potentially huge market of untapped renters in the process? After all, it is projected that by 2028 there will be 64.6 million Gen Xers, according to Pew Research. How come these 35-50 year olds get no love—or marketing—in the apartment industry?

Sure, in the past, most people in this age group would be homeowners. But not necessarily anymore, though. According to CNN:

Homeownership among those aged 35-54 has dropped the most of any other age group since 1993, according to Harvard’s State of the Nation’s Housing 2015 report—especially those under age 44.

There’s not a one-size-fits all description for Gen X, and many of them fit in the rental market—people who haven’t started a family yet, people who have but haven’t saved up for a home (or just prefer to rent), people who’d rather stay in a city close to the action rather than moving out to the suburbs…

And sure, these Gen X renters are looking for the same thing as everyone else—Wi-Fi, upgraded amenities, etc. But when you market exclusively to Millennials, you could be alienating some of these other renters, because it makes it feel like living in that community would be an extension of dorm living. And while Gen X doesn’t mind having the same features in an apartment as Millennials, they probably don’t want to think they’re going to end up living with a bunch of drunken frat boys. (Or maybe they do? I’m not here to judge. Much.)

It’s an oversight to ignore this large niche of renters in apartment marketing. And it could be a costly one.

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