Generation X has Surpassed Baby Boomers on Several Key Measures of Credit Card Usage and Behavior, Says Auriemma Consulting Group

New York, NY, Aug. 7, 2012: For much of the past half-century, the credit card industry as we know it was fueled primarily by the enormous Baby Boomer generation. Indeed, payment card product designs have mainly been focused on what Baby Boomers wanted and needed. However, according to recent time-series data analysis of credit card usage and behavior patterns published in Cardbeat®, the Baby Boomer generation has slipped behind their Generation X (Gen X) counterparts in terms of credit card usage, balance transfer activity, premium card ownership, and several other key measures of card industry’s health. Just a few years ago, it was the Baby Boomers who were driving most of this behavior.

While the sunsetting of the Baby Boomer generation was inevitable at some point, many executives in the payment card industry did not expect it to happen quite so soon. Nevertheless, the question of whether product designs best fit the needs of Gen X remains an open question. Gen X has, in the past, been depicted as an overeducated, insecure demographic cohort who came of age in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. However, on the whole, Gen X are more ethnically diverse (although much of that diversity can be attributed to immigration; if immigrants were excluded, the number of native Gen Xers would be even fewer) and better educated (over 60% of Gen X attended college) than Baby Boomers.

Dr. Patricia A. Sahm, Managing Director at ACG, says “Generation X’s reign at the top is likely to be short-lived, due to nothing other than demographic reality with a much larger generation of Millennials right behind them.” However, she adds that Gen X is unique in that this group may mirror Baby Boomers on some behaviors, but behave much more like the younger Millennial generation in other card usage behaviors. In particular, while this group may not be acknowledged for it, Gen X is really the first generation to grow up in the Internet era and is perhaps the most extensively wired (and now wireless) generation in U.S. history thus far. Dr. Sahm says that Gen X will be critical in the development of new, mobile payments. Finally, she says that Gen Xers are largely entering their peak earning years, therefore, banks and card issuers will really need to evolve their product designs to retain and nurture this important group.

About Auriemma Consulting Group

Auriemma Consulting Group (ACG) is a full-service management consulting firm serving the payments, lending, and retail industries since 1984. Cardbeat® is ACG’s syndicated market research study of credit cardholders, conducted monthly in the U.S. and quarterly in the U.K. ACG also conducts research in the debit and prepaid space, and publishes a quarterly report known as The Payments Report. With offices in New York and London, ACG consultants are experienced practitioners drawn from the credit card, private label, auto finance, mortgage, and retail banking industries that we serve.

 For more information, please contact Dr. Patricia A. Sahm at 212-323-7000 or patricia.sahm@acg.net.

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