Recent research has indicated that Boomers and Silents combine to account for more than 70% of adults with at least $100k in investable assets, while Millennials comprise just 13% share, the smallest of any generation. Statistics from a recently-released Epsilon study provide more insight into these older generations’ comparatively greater wealth, though it’s Gen Xers with the highest median incomes.
Boomers & Silents: High Net Worth, Household Spending
While the report is about marketing to the Boomers+ population (Baby Boomers and Silents) by viewing them through the prism of their finances, the study offers financial statistics across generations by combing through a host of Epsilon data sources.
- Median Income
Not too surprisingly, it’s Gen Xers that lead the way in terms of median income, with their average of $63,832 being almost 2.5x times higher than that of Millennials ($25,759). Gen Xers represent the largest generation of affluents (defined in this case at least $100k in annual income), and their incomes are higher than those of Baby Boomers and Silents likely in part because of the latter generations’ retirement. Indeed, media incomes tend to peak for adults in their early 50s, with marked decreases around 65 and 75.
Nevertheless, Baby Boomers maintain a median income that’s more than twice as high as Millennials ($55,928 vs. $25,759).
- Median Net Worth
Median net worth is an area where the older generations really shine. Again, this ought not to be too surprising, given that they have had more time to make financial choices and grow their assets.
Silents emerge as the generation with the highest media net worth, of $360,448, though they’re closely followed by Baby Boomers, with a median average of $332,944.
By comparison, Gen Xers have a net worth around half of those older generations ($171,212), while Millennials have yet to really generate any significant assets ($21,260).
- Household Spending
Higher incomes and net worth translate to higher spending for older generations than Millennials, per the study.
In fact, Baby Boomers have the highest average monthly spend per household, of $765. That figure is about 50% higher than Millennials’ average of $508.
Not too far behind the Baby Boomers, Gen Xers ($709) and Silents ($675) also have money to spend.
These figures bring to mind a seminal statistic released by Nielsen in 2012: that in 5 years’ time (or this year, in other words), Boomers would control 70% of disposable income in the US.
- Residences and Credit Cards
The Epsilon report links income and net worth to household ownership and credit card usage, noting in both cases that the older generations are far ahead of Millennials.
With respect to homes, more than three-quarters of Baby Boomers (79%) and Silents (77%) are homeowners, and they stay in these residences for an average of more than 16 years.
By contrast, just 28% of Millennials are homeowners, with this generation on average staying in their residents for about 4 and 1/4 years. (It’s worth noting that Nielsen data suggests that 47% of Millennials aged 21-38 are homeowners, so Epsilon’s smaller rate may owe to the younger age range analyzed.)
A similar disparity is seen in credit card usage: while it exceeds three-quarters of Baby Boomers (76%) and Silents (79%), just one-quarter of Millennials (25%) are credit card users.
For more on youths’ use of financial services, see MarketingCharts’ comprehensive study, Marketing Financial Services to Millennials.
Other Report Highlights
The Epsilon study – besides dividing Baby Boomers and Silents up into various financial segments/personas – also offers some interesting statistics about the older generations.
The following is a list of some highlights from those results.
- Almost half (49%) of Baby Boomers’ annual wallet spend is in stores, compared to 34% spent online and 17% via direct mail/catalog. By comparison, Silents apportion almost twice the wallet share (31%) to direct mail/catalog, with 44% going to retail and 26% online. No wonder that direct mail is the top purchase influencer for Silents!
- Boomers who are single tend to have much lower average incomes than those who are married, and also have smaller median net worth ($118,182 vs. $381,729). However, both groups’ top spending categories are the same: apparel (30% of wallet for singles; 33% for those married); and home and garden (20% for singles; 19% for married).
- As with Boomers, Silents who are single have lower average incomes and net worth than their married counterparts. They again have apparel (24% for singles; 29% for married) and home and garden (14% each group) as their biggest-spending categories, though for single Silents, a sizable 13% of their annual wallet goes to not-for-profits.
About the Data: Epsilon identified a random sample of 75,000 households from its compiled file TotalSource Plus® for each financial segment. Profiles of these households were created with Epsilon’s robust data assets. These include its cooperative database Abacus®, compiled file TotalSource Plus, and proprietary self-reported database Shopper’s Voice®.