Crafting Food and Beverage Products that Appeal to Generation X

by | May 18, 2023

If you’ve spent any time online researching generational characteristics, you’ve probably heard the joke about Gen X’s favorite song, “Don’t You Forget About Me”. Born between 1965 and 1980, Gen X sandwiches between two larger generations—the 83 million North American Baby Boomers on one side and 80 million Millennials on the other. Brands may overlook Gen X, sometimes called the “middle child” generation, because it’s not as large as their older and younger generational siblings.

But despite being a smaller group, Gen X’s influence is disproportionate to their numbers.
According to Pew Research, Gen Xers have higher-than-average household income and a combined spending power of $2.4 trillion. They are 72.6 million people strong across North America today and will surpass the Baby Boomer population by 2028.

Gen Xers grew up without the internet, but they are still tech-savvy, resourceful individuals who desire a good work-life balance. Their interests include family time, nostalgia, health and wellness, and financial security (Forbes).

Let’s explore some key Generation X food and beverage trends to discover how brands can engage and create connections.

How Can Your Brand Connect with Generation X?

Prioritize Authenticity & Taste

Gen X values authenticity. With no screen time beyond television, their interactions involved hanging out with friends at the mall or browsing music albums in record stores. Members of Gen X also likely saw news around Nixon’s impeachment, which was the first impeachment hearing since Andrew Johnson in 1868.

The result: Gen Xers prefer honest and genuine messages that reflect their values and lived experiences. They also want to see companies take a stance on social issues like climate change, affordable healthcare, racial justice, and income inequality (HubSpot).

Stand Out Statistics

  • 85% of Gen X say authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support (Social MediaToday).
  • 51% of Gen X want brands to fit their values (Innova).
  • 43% of Gen X are more likely to buy from a business that actively tries to reduce its environmental impact (HubSpot).

Perhaps because of their desire for authenticity, Gen X prioritizes taste more than other generations. According to Food and Beverage Insider, a significantly higher number of Gen Xers want their food and beverage to taste better than the status quo compared to Boomers or Gen Z. Food and beverage qualities that appeal to Gen Z include “fresh,” “authentic,” “homemade,” and “organic” (Innova).

healthy-looking salad in a blue bowl

Feature Health & Wellness

With the oldest members of Gen X in their upper 50s, many are prioritizing self-care so they can achieve their retirement goals. Boosting immunity, gut and heart health, sleep, exercise, wellness visits, and supplements are some of the tactics Gen Xers use to support their well-being (Innova).

Generation X also avoids foods or substances they perceive as unhealthy, like sugar and salt (Innova). A 2019 survey by Food Insight highlights “limiting sugar intake” as the top way Gen X consumers changed their diet habits over ten years. Older generations tend to see processed food as unhealthy and full of additives and artificial ingredients. Meeting label claim goals will become critical for food and beverage brands interested in generating trust with Gen Xers.

Stand Out Statistics

  • 55% of Gen X find healthy aging extremely or very important (Innova).
  • 44% of Gen X say they try to limit or reduce products/ingredients that are bad for them (Innova).
  • 43 % of Gen X say they have reduced their intake of processed foods in the last year (Innova).

Brands can support Gen X’s health targets by helping them turn concerns about healthy aging into action. Functional foods and beverages, in particular, offer various opportunities to connect with aging consumers who want to maintain an active lifestyle.

What functionality is Gen X looking for in their food and beverage choices? (Innova)

  • Sleep
  • Hydration
  • Hearth health
  • Immunity
  • Gut health
  • Relax/calm

Tread Carefully with Nostalgic Flavors

Gen X can be a tricky generation to understand because of the broad age range (43-58 years old). Some of the more senior people in the group share traits with Baby Boomers, while younger members may be more aligned with Millennials.

With nostalgic flavors and dishes, Gen X is a group that bridges the gap between boomers and millennials. Food Business News reports that Gen X still enjoys snacks from their younger days, like fruit snacks, corn chips, and granola bars. Mintel notes that “‘classic’ drinks still have a dedicated following among those nostalgic for a childhood lived in the physical past: among Generation X and Millennials in particular.”

But, because Gen X isn’t willing to compromise on taste, making too many updates to nostalgic flavors or formats can be a barrier to in-market success.

Stand Out Statistics

  • Despite interest in healthier foods, Gen Xers prefer to order pizza, burgers, Mexican food, and Mediterranean cuisine more than any other generation. (Technomic).
  • 40% of Gen X and older consumers in the US who have not bought non-dairy milk say they don’t like the taste (Mintel).

They may prefer the familiar, but Gen X is open to trying new dishes and flavors. While Millennials might be excited to try the sweet heat of hot honey chicken and waffles, Gen X might prefer a waffle bar where they can choose more classic toppings or add adventurous items that appeal to them.

waffle bar with different toppings

Partner with FlavorSum

Are you exploring ways to attract Gen X consumers? Partnering with our insights team can help to align your brand with older generations. From there, our flavor and applications experts can help you bring your innovative concept to life and onto grocery store shelves. Connect with our team to learn more!