Most businesses are well aware of how to market to Generation X (those born 1961-1981), mainly because so many people in business today are part of Generation X.

But as Gen Xers move into midlife (the oldest are 48, and youngest are 28), we are seeing a dramatic shift in how they view the world and purchase things.

One of the biggest shifts is the focus on family. Gen Xers grew up in a world that was not particularly interested in kids (during the '60s and '70s) and spent young adulthood trying to find their own way (in the '80s and '90s). They are, as a rule, a fairly independent bunch and don't believe that institutions or groups really have their best interest in mind.

But as this pragmatic and individualist generation is now well into the age of parenthood, some of their values are shifting.

As parents, most Gen Xers want to give their children the nurturing and protection that they never enjoyed in their youth. Although Baby Boomers (those born 1943-1960) also are generally nurturing parents, Gen Xers take it one step further. Most Gen Xers are very results-oriented and will make big sacrifices for their children's welfare.

Who are their children? For the most part, they are the generation known as Millennials (those born 1982-2005) although Gen Xers are predominantly the parents of the later portion of that generation. And that is why understanding how they parent is so important right now.

The general profile of the three most recent generations is as follows:

  • Boomer: Focused on values and individuality with a strong inner sense of what is right
  • Generation X: Pragmatic and individualistic, with a desire to protect themselves and those close to them
  • Millennials: Enthusiastic and motivated with a team spirit and a wish to change the world for the better

Millennials are still moving through the K-12 system (although the leading group has already graduated from college and moved into the workforce), but the makeup of their parents has shifted from Boomer to Generation X.

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Dave Sohigian has more than 10 years of experience in software sales and marketing. Read more of his thoughts on generations on his blog, The Gen-X Files ( Contact him via