- What is Gen Alpha and why are they so little?
- Is Gen Alpha the next massive generation?
- A child and a parent go into a store to purchase a TV. Who gets to decide which brand to buy?
Don’t look now, but those little kids you saw running around the park yesterday will soon be driving brand marketers and their agencies insane. Count on billions of dollars to be spent on research and even more billions on creative and media strategy just to figure out how to motivate the latest generational cohort – Gen Alpha.
This group is the demographic cohort succeeding Gen Z and are the children of Millennials and older Gen Zs. Researchers and popular media use 2013 as the starting birth years and early to mid-2020s as the ending birth years. That would make them pre-teens as of this writing.
Say what? Pre-teens? What do they have in their pockets? No money and no credit cards. So, who cares?
Better questions are: What impact do they have now? And how are they going to affect the world when they get old enough to do so?
Ah yes. Now we’re interested.
What Does Gen Alpha Mean to Brands — While they are barely old enough to lace up their soccer shoes – or for our Euro friends, football cleats, and there is little data available to draw conclusions, this generation has the potential to rock the consumer product world today and even more in the future. To find out how, read on.
What does Gen Alpha look like? Click here to see candid shots of kids playing to posed portraits of preteens from all over the world, in a variety of settings and activities. Find the perfect image for your project, no matter what your needs are.
You’re Gonna Need a Scorecard to Watch This Game
As seminal rockers, Queen opined in their hit from the early 90s, These Are the Days of Our Lives, “You can’t turn back the clock, you can’t turn back the tide.” And the generations continue to briskly march by, in 2/4 time. Here’s generational breakdown:
- Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1964)
- Generation X (circa 1965 to 1980)
- Millennial Generation (circa 1981 to 1996)
- Gen Z (born 1997 to 2012)
- Gen Alpha (circa 2013 – 2025)
According to this source, “Generation Alpha can be difficult to describe demographically because they are still being born. They will likely be a very large segment of the population. The quick population growth of the baby boom years led to the millennial generation also being very populous, as they are mostly children of these baby boomers.
“This trend continues with Generation Alpha, who are largely the children of millennials. Globally, it is estimated that more than 2.8 million members of Generation Alpha are being born each week, and by 2025 they are expected to number more than 2 billion.” Compare this to the current population of millennials (the largest living group) which stands at 83.1 million people.
In spite of the dearth of data, several factors suggest future actions and mindsets for Gen Alpha.
- Generation Alpha has been born at a time of falling fertility rates across much of the world, and this could have the impact of reducing climate change because fewer people will be generating CO2. What does this mean for business?
- This group experienced the effects of the COVID pandemic as young children. Will this lead them to be more or less trusting of vaccines and medical science?
- For those with access, children’s entertainment (consumed by Gen Alpha) has been dominated by electronic technology, social networks, and streaming services, with interest in traditional television concurrently falling. This is bad news for traditional, linear TV. What happens when this cohort is in charge of the remote?
- Changes in the use of technology in classrooms and other aspects of life have had a significant effect on how this generation has experienced early learning compared to previous generations. Will this experience make STEM grades go up?
- Gen Alpha will be affected by the emerging use of artificial intelligence (AI), both through voice assistants like Siri or Alexa and natural language processing tools like ChatGPT. What will they do with it?
- Studies have suggested that allergies, obesity, and health problems related to screen time have become increasingly prevalent among children in recent years. Will this unhealthy lifestyle continue for this group?
The Big Takeaway for TODAY – Kids Rule
There are several excellent reasons brands should pay close attention to Gen Alpha. The most important of which is the great impact children have on purchases (large and small) made by the family.
According to a report by the National Retail Federation, 87% of parents surveyed say their children influence their purchase decisions.
“Just about half (48%) of parents report that their children have influence over purchases specifically for the child, while more than one-third (36%) say their children influence purchases for the household.
“It appears that parents are now more willing to involve their kids in the purchase process than prior generations, with 80% of the parents surveyed saying they involve their children in purchases more than their own parents did with them.”
This is in line with the generally accepted personality of the Millennial group, the parents of Gen Alpha.
Marketing Charts reports, “Parents say the top aspects of the purchase their children influence most are:
- The specific brand to consider (52%)
- The product features that are important (48%)
- The specific retailers to consider (41%).
The giant, red flag flying over this data is the need for brands to use language and images in marketing and advertising that are simple and authentic. Why? Kids have highly tuned BS-detectors. The creative consultants at stock photography services such as SuperStock can provide invaluable research for finding kid-friendly images without the expense of custom photo-shoots.
“As far as specific categories where children have the most sway – either by influencing their parents’ decisions or spending their own money – the report cites the following:
- Toys and games
- Clothes and shoes
- Food and drink
- Dining out
- Events and outing
- Books and music
“Many parents also report that their children have a say in the purchase of electronic goods. This influence could contribute to data showing that parents are more keen than non-parents to adopt new technology.” Of course, this suggests the multi-billion-dollar consumer electronics industry should be researching messaging strategies for Gen Alpha yesterday!
You’re Not the Boss of Me!
Gen Alpha will likely follow every other generation in their disdain for the views of their doofus, completely out of touch parents. This is particularly true when it comes to politics and social issues.
According to research from Penn State, “More than half of all children in the U.S. either misperceive or reject their parents’ political party affiliations, according to researchers.
“This finding turns conventional wisdom, as well as years of political socialization research, on its head,” said Christopher Ojeda, currently a postdoctoral scholar in the Stanford Center for American Democracy at Stanford University. ‘The public, the media and the academic world have long believed that children learn their political values, such as which party to support or which policy positions to endorse, from their parents.’”
This research suggests otherwise.
By understanding this dynamic, political office seekers and issue oriented organizations should be careful in making the assumption that simply because an issue or candidate might be favored by the Millennial parents that the kids will follow suit. The Gen Alpha kids may need more convincing or completely different messaging.
Time Will Tell
Will Gen Alpha follow in the footsteps of their millennial parents? For example, are they likely to want a balanced life between work and leisure and have the same media habits? Or will they reject those views in part or entirely? Only time will tell.
However, in the short run, Gen Alpha will do what kids have always done. They will drive family purchases. For brands and their agencies, the knowledge of this fact is crucial to building a long-term relationship with this massive group. As always, we can count on the world changing and these changes influencing what this generation does in it.
What’s your marketing plan for Gen Alpha? With our FREE research, you can begin your relationship with this group and, with any luck, make them customers for life.