After Gen ZERS recently made fun of millennials for using the laughing-crying emoji, wearing skinny jeans and having our hair parted to the side, it made me think about how one day my son (now a month old!) will eventually poke fun at their generation’s style choices because it all comes full circle. Then I thought even more about what his generation will be like, or what they are even called after Gen Z? Apparently anyone born from 2010 to 2024 has been coined “Generation Alpha,” by social researcher Mark McCrindle. So who are these Alphas and what do they mean for the future?
Here are some key generational characteristics:
- They are the first generation to be born entirely in the 21st century
- Every nine seconds, a member of Generation Alpha is born in the United States. Every week, 2.5 million members are born worldwide
- If current trends continue, Generation Alpha will be more racially and ethnically diverse than their Generation Z predecessors.
- The generation will have known advanced technology since birth which will provide “increased digital literacy and gamification of learning but also shorter attention spans and impaired social formation.”
- If trends continue Generation Alpha will be more likely to grow up surrounded by college-educated adults compared to prior generations. (From 2010 to 2019 — the first nine years of Generation Alpha births — the United States saw educational attainment improve among adults between the ages of 25 and 34.)
- AI is part of their life since the beginning. They have and will grow up with AI assistants like Alexa, Google, etc. and will always have the answer available.
- They will interact mostly with peers online and through social media channels – it’s a way of life and something they will have always known.
Through my research and looking at the current data, I was happy to discover that this next generation is expected to care even more about the importance of diversity and developing strong and independent beliefs than ever before. With the world at their fingertips, this generation is able to learn about so much more online than previous generations. They are an entirely “digital-first” generation that will be focused on making the world a better place. According to BusinessWire, when asked what they attribute most importance to, Generation Alpha identifies “keeping children safe at school” (97%), “making sure everyone has enough food to eat” (97%), that “boys and girls are treated fairly” (94%) and “taking care of the environment” (95%).
What Does this Mean for the Future of Marketing?
Brands are already looking at how to target this generation and their parents moving forward. According to HotWire, PNC Bank has partnered with Sesame Street to help children develop financial skills, and brands are turning to podcasts targeting a younger audience, like the NPR show, “Wow in the World” which focuses on conversations with kids and their parents about science, technology and ethics. Procter & Gamble also has a “micro-podcast” called “Chompers” to help kids brush their teeth for the full two minutes.
Companies are building toys with voice or image recognition already built in like Mattel’s Hello Barbie (has since been discontinued due to safety concerns) and Hatchimals. There are many toys on the market now that are also incorporating AI and coding capabilities, and toys that connect physical toys with an app or device.
This generation will not be a “one-size-fits-all” group. In the world of marketing, we will have to understand this and incorporate a more custom approach to targeting them. I for one am excited to see where this generation goes and how they make their positive mark on society.
What do you think about the future of marketing with Generation Alpha? Are you surprised by any of the above characteristics identified with this generation? What type of data do you think needs to also be collected in order to further identify with this generation?