Often overlooked in consumer analyses, Generation X possesses a unique blend of traditional and modern spending habits that demand attention. Sandwiched between Baby Boomers and Millennials, they currently hold significant spending power, making them a valuable demographic for businesses. This blog aims to explore aspects of Generation X’s consumer behaviour, from their financial services preferences to their spending trends, brand loyalty, and use of digital payment methods. Our goal is to provide valuable insights into their lifestyles and spending habits, helping businesses better understand and effectively cater to this key generation.

Generation X: Who Are They?

Generation X, the cohort born between 1965 and 1980, is a demographic group currently between 44 and 59 years old in South Africa. This generation came of age during pivotal national transitions, including the end of apartheid and the establishment of democracy. Coupled with the advent of the digital era, these events significantly influenced Generation X’s self-sufficiency, adaptability, and pragmatic approach towards life. 

Their spending habits and consumer behaviour were shaped by both sweeping cultural transformation and the fast-paced evolution of technology. As such, recognising and understanding these traits is crucial for businesses seeking to meet their specific needs and preferences effectively.

With this background in mind, let’s now explore the unique findings from our YouGov research on Generation X’s spending habits and consumer behaviour.

Finances and Spending Habits

This section explores participants’ financial behaviours, attitudes, and choices, focusing on areas like loans, debt, financial privacy, savings, investments, cryptocurrency, and insurance.

The YouGov results reveal a broad array of insights into customers’ financial habits and preferences. Generally, participants are concerned about debt and financial privacy and express a desire for more fraud awareness. Their attitudes towards saving and investing show a careful approach, yet many worry about their ability to save. The data also suggests that people have a mixed understanding and trust in cryptocurrencies and exhibit caution towards insurance and risk management. 

Overall, these findings underscore the importance of financial education, awareness, and support in meeting consumers’ varying needs and concerns. Brands that can demonstrate trust credentials and focus on the benefits of their products and services more likely to win with this segment

The most frequently used banks for their main current accounts are:

  • First National Bank (FNB) – 35.21%
  • Capitec – 26.02%
  • Standard Bank – 10.25%
  • Absa – 8.50%
  • Nedbank – 8.30%
  • Tyme Bank – 3.48%
  • Discovery Bank – 2.55%
  • African Bank – 1.46%

Further, participants were asked to rate their agreement with different statements about financial behaviours and attitudes.

Attitude towards Loans and Debt

On this subject,

  • 80.83% of participants find the idea of being in debt stressful,
  • However, 63.69% perceive some personal debt as normal.

Financial Privacy and Fraud Awareness

Regarding financial privacy and fraud awareness:

  • 81.93% believe that it’s easier than ever to fall victim to card fraud,
  • 79.78% are careful to keep their personal details private,
  • 78.97% feel there should be more awareness campaigns about possible frauds or scams,
  • 78.03% make a regular habit of checking credit card and bank statements for suspicious activities,
  • And a significant 48.16% believe that banks try to trick them out of their money.

Money Saving and Investment Plans

In terms of money-saving and investment,

  • 74.94% are more careful with their finances than they used to be,
  • 73.40% look for profitable ways to invest money,
  • However, 57.48% are concerned that they might never be able to save for a rainy day.

Confidence in Financial Management

When it comes to financial management,

  • 67.55% feel confident about making and keeping to a budget.
  • 65.08% take into account financial news and economic updates before making significant purchases.
  • 61.05% assert that they manage their finances well.
  • About half, 56.77%, express trust in banks and financial services providers.
  • Less than half, 48.04%, feel confident that they can handle a personal financial crisis.
  • Only 38.42% never make financial decisions without consulting a professional.

Opinions on Cryptocurrency

For opinions regarding cryptocurrency,

  • 55.34% think cryptocurrencies are the future of online financial transactions.
  • 50.05% admit they don’t fully understand cryptocurrency.
  • 40.03% don’t trust cryptocurrencies.

Attitude toward Insurance and Risk

In terms of insurance and risk,

  • 67.43% think it’s important to be insured for everything.
  • 49.33% perceive investing in stocks and shares as too risky.
  • 44.96% stated that if possible, they would not have any insurance at all.
  • 39.93% question the usefulness of car insurance, citing its high costs in the event of an accident.

Spending and Retail Habits 

The YouGov findings provide valuable insights into consumer preferences, ethical considerations, environmental concerns, and shopping habits. Participants display an inclination towards shopping at local businesses, purchasing ethically sourced products, and adopting sustainable practices. 

However, attitudes towards luxury, fast fashion, and second-hand items reveal a mix of preferences. Respondents prioritise comfort and quality in their purchases while considering factors such as sustainability, loyalty programmes, and special offers. Overall, these results emphasise the diverse priorities consumers hold and highlight the need for businesses to cater to evolving preferences and expectations.

Participants were asked to estimate their weekly expenditure on food and regular household goods which include items to be consumed within the household such as food, toiletries, cleaning equipment, pet food etc. According to the results:

  • 26.64% of respondents spend between R100 and R699 per week.
  • 45.10% of respondents land in the range of R700 to R3,499.
  • 13.55% of respondents spend R3,500 or more.

Local Shopping

In terms of shopping preferences,

  • 76.78% valued handmade items.
  • 73.33% of participants expressed a preference for shopping at local businesses.

Ethical Considerations

  • 63.68% of respondents deliberate to buy fair trade products,
  • 55.39% find it challenging to track the ethical status of large companies,
  • 49.58% affirmatively choose companies that uphold ethics and values matching their own.

Environment and Sustainability

We see a growing  of environmental mindfulness,

  • Here’s the reshuffled list in descending order:
  • 83.29% are considering getting solar panels installed at their homes.
  • 81.46% put in efforts to recycle.
  • 80.38% prefer sustainable brands.
  • 79.94% ensure to turn off lights when leaving a room.
  • 72.34% wouldn’t mind having a wind turbine in their area.
  • 71.93% consider climate change as the biggest threat to civilisation.
  • 70.87% don’t mind paying more for environmentally friendly products.
  • 63.91% like to know where their products were manufactured.
  • Only 40.66% restrict their clothing purchases to sustainable brands.
  • 30.78% favour second-hand items over new ones.
  • 28.10% strictly avoid buying second-hand clothes and accessories.

Quality and Luxury

In the context of quality and luxury, there is a willingness to splurge but it has to feel worth it to justify the spend.

  • An overwhelming 87.11% appreciate owning good quality products,
  • 51.55% are willing to go extra for luxury brands,
  • However, 49.34% find a minimal difference between leading brands and supermarket brands.

Fashion and Clothing

Concerning fashion and clothing, a tension exists between wanting to look good and buying responsibly

  • 42.13% admit to spending a lot on clothes,
  • Most respondents (74.29%) prioritise comfort over style when buying clothes,
  • 36.08% believe that purchasing fast fashion indicates a lack of environmental concern,
  • 31.23% admit being influenced by celebrity endorsements in their buying decisions.

Shopping Attitude and Habits

With regards to shopping attitudes and habits, quality, convenience and value are key considerations

  • 87.32% contact customer services only when absolutely necessary,
  • 86.95% are always on the lookout for special offers,
  • 78.67% ensure they are well-informed before making a big purchase,
  • 77.01% usually look for the lowest prices when shopping,
  • 75.27% are willing to pay extra for good quality products,
  • 72.55% wish that all stores had user-friendly apps for easier mobile shopping,
  • 70.98% would switch brands if a different one is on sale.

Loyalty to Brands and Programmes

  • 82.35% believe all brands should offer loyalty programmes,
  • 79.02% subscribe to loyalty programs whenever given the opportunity,
  • 76.87% feel more loyal to brands where they have loyalty membership.

Top loyalty schemes with over 30% membership include:

  • Click Club Card (57.07%)
  • Pick ‘n Pay Smart Shopper (49.88%)
  • Checkers Xtra Savings (47.56%)
  • Dis-Chem Loyalty Card (46.67%)
  • SPAR Rewards (43.29%)
  • EBucks (FNB) (41.43%)
  • Shoprite Xtra Savings (40.63%)
  • Woolworths WRewards (34.11%)
  • Edgars ThankU Card (32.94%)


Online Shopping and Digital Technologies

YouGov results shed light on the significant role of online shopping and mobile payments in participants’ lives. These findings suggest a prominent stance of digital payment modes in consumer behaviour.

Here are some notable statements participants expressed their agreement with:

  • Online shopping simplifies my life (74.08%)
  • I consistently review products before purchase (56.78%)
  • Subscription boxes are excessively priced (53.17%)
  • Subscription boxes represent the future of shopping (50.49%)
  • I generally favour online shopping over in-store shopping (44.33%)
  • Subscription boxes are convenient and time-saving (43.20%)
  • I enjoy the simplicity of using chatbots to obtain information (47.81%)

Respondents were also asked to identify mobile payment systems or deposit apps they frequently use. The most popular choices (over 10%) included:

  • PayPal: 49.58%
  • Bank’s own app (FNB, Capitec, Absa etc.): 37.27%
  • Samsung Pay: 30.00%
  • Google Pay: 23.67%
  • Zapper: 15.30%
  • Vodacom Pay: 11.64%
  • Apple Pay: 10.64%


Generation X reveals a preference for digital shopping, local businesses, and ethical trading. Emphasising environmental mindfulness, they favour sustainable practices and brands. Loyalty programmes and high-quality items are particularly appealing to this demographic. Regular use of mobile payments highlights the need for businesses to ensure compatibility with leading payment platforms. 

In short, for an effective outreach to Generation X, businesses should focus on digital convenience, ethical responsibility, environmental sustainability, well-rewarded loyalty, and seamless payment options.