Born: 1965–1980
Size: 66 million / 21% of the U.S. population

This post is part of our series on the ways that Utility Customer Relationship Management affects customer engagement. Because they serve people of all ages, utility messaging needs to be multigenerational.

Generation X grew up with some of the results of the massive social, economic, and political changes that took place with the Baby Boomers. This generation saw:

generation-x-vs-millennialsThey are described as the latchkey generation, because they spent more time at home alone than previous generations while their parents were at work. This is the first generation to grow up with digital technology in their homes. They watched unprecedented hours of TV. They are skeptical of advertisements.

The 2003 blackout in the Northeastern United States and Canada came when gasoline and natural gas prices were at record highs. This drove prices higher, and underscored the necessity for changes in the way electricity is produced, delivered, and consumed.

Generation X values family, informality, casualness, independence. They were described early on as “slackers,” cynical, nihilistic and unmotivated, but they have proven to be almost the opposite — highly entrepreneurial and self-reliant. If anything makes them unique it is their position between the two largest generations in US history and their skepticism about their uniqueness. In fact, they are the least likely of any living generation to see their generation as a unique identity. Like Millennials, they are also pessimistic about having enough money for retirement.

Request a consultation to learn more about Generation X vs Millennials and valuable tools to assist utility companies in connecting with generations to form better relationships with your utility customers.

Where the Baby Boomers were interested in self-discovery, Generation X pursues emotional security. They are loyal to people but not to institutions. Many of technologies, like mobile devices, computer gaming, and getting music over the Internet rather than on physical media, began when Generation Xers were children, teens, or young adults. And while they are not mostly described as digital natives, they have been technologically literate in large numbers for a long time.

Generation X is in or is just reaching the point in mid-life where happiness is low. It seems that this experience is not unique to recent generations. Dante described mid-life as, “com[ing] to [him]self in a dark wood, where the direct way was lost,” in his 1320 epic, “Divine Comedy.” This coming to one’s self is perhaps uniquely difficult for a generation pursuing emotional security. However some of the older members of Generation X are finding that things recover in what has been referred to as a U-Curve. This description middle age differs from what the Baby Boomers’ termed the, “mid-life crisis,” and suggests that Generation X may not have the same attitudes about age that typify Baby Boomers.

Importantly for utilities, Generation X:

  • Distrusts institutions
  • Expects to be able to communicate up and down leadership hierarchies
  • Values open communication
  • Expects to give and receive instant feedback
  • Wants to work smarter and uses technology to do it

How to market to Generation X — application points for messaging:

  • Avoid naming Generation X in communications with its members
  • Don’t emphasize the the utility as an institution in communications
  • Open communication through the organizational hierarchy where possible
  • Don’t expect hierarchy, titles, or institutional policies to be persuasive on their own
  • Make it quick and easy for customers to find things out and make changes themselves
  • Keep communications brief, casual, and to the point
  • Emphasize benefits in terms of saving time, money, and the environment
  • Avoid messaging that could come off as hype or emotional manipulation


Brilliency understands the difference in messaging for Generation X vs Millennials, and provides valuable tools to assist utility companies in connecting with generations for improved customer relationships. Find out how:

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Additional Sources