What’s trending now?
Generation Alpha is a growing and lucrative consumer market. 2018 saw the first group of millennials’ children enter the primary school system. These children are expected to be the wealthiest, most highly-educated and technologically-connected group to date. Collectively,
their spending power is huge.
Coined by sociologist Mark McCrindle , the term Generation Alpha applies to children born between 2011 and 2025 According to McCrindle, an estimated 2.5 million alphas are born globally every week.
While their parents, the millennials, are informally known as digital natives, many alphas will have a digital footprint before they even understand the term. Celebrity kids like Asahd Khaled, son of the more famous music producer DJ Khaled, and Prince William’s son George already have Instagram accounts, managed by their parents. Generation Alpha is the first group who will be immersed in technology their entire lives. These kids are also referred to as the Glass Generation as their glass-fronted devices will be their main medium of communication.
Gen Zs, the group born between 1995 and 2010 grew up when social media was being established. For them it’s a tool. For alphas, it’s a way of life.
Why is it important?
“If Generation Alpha possesses similar behaviours, attitudes and beliefs to that of their parents, then to win a certain segment of millennial consumers (millennial parents), we must target Generation Alpha.” – Google
A 2016 Cartoon Network New Generation study found that Australian children aged 4 -14, have, through pocket money, spending power running into billions of dollars. Alpha kids are also expected to have a strong influence on the shopping behaviour of their millennial parents , who are willing to spend a lot on their children.
From a young age, Alphas would have been widely exposed to multiple digital platforms. Businesses will have to adapt to radically new ways of interacting and communicating with alphas, compared to their parents. Generation Alpha’s consumer experience will have to be seamless and integrated, with a personalised online experience. This will provide new opportunities for marketers.
In primary and secondary school, alphas will move from a structured, auditory method of learning to a visual, hands-on method. They will acquire problem solving skills and experience peer-to-peer learning. Connected classrooms will be the norm. There are already schools that have shifted from the traditional forms of interacting with Gen Z to the methods more suited to the incoming alpha students, like the use of iPads rather than textbooks to create projects and share work with teachers and classmates. Students can already digitally contact their teachers with questions on their homework. Others such as Quest to Learn in New York and the international Reggio Emilia schools are also using technology as an interactive way to educate their pupils.
Cranfield University Professor Joe Nellis points out that Generation Alpha will take on jobs that don’t yet exist. This generation will be well educated, and wealthy families especially, will invest in increasingly specialised education. A percentage of alphas will avoid the higher education system altogether and opt for cheaper online learning.
What’s the butterfly effect?
Marketing to these children requires simple, detailed content which will assist in cultivating consumer loyalty at a young age. Financial institutions such as PNC Bank have partnered with TV show Sesame Street in the US to produce interesting content to develop financial responsibility and skills like counting and reading. Media houses are moving into the Gen Z and Alpha podcast sector. The NPR show Wow in the World aims to spark discussion among kids, and between kids and their parents, on topics as diverse as science, technology and ethics. Other platforms like American Public Media and Vermont Public Radio have also started targeting this generation, with interactive shows.
Generation Alpha will grow up interacting with AI and robots, as well as humans. They will play with connected toys which will respond to commands and demonstrate emotional intelligence. Congi Toys’ dinosaur bot talks and responds to its owner, while augmented reality teddy bear Parker interacts with its owner via Apple’s mobile operating system. As they grow older and develop verbal skills, voice communication with devices will become common.
Above: photon – A robot that grows with you child.
A recent study by IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional organisation, notes that 40% of millennial parents are open to replace or supplement a human nanny with a stay-at-home robot nanny. Millennial parents are the drivers connecting their children to devices with the aim of providing a better nurturing experience. Their openness to their children engaging with the worldwide web has enabled companies to create products and spaces that target Generation Alpha and millennials. Snapchat’s Snapkidz is an example. The mini version has the same features as the adult version, excluding the add-a-friend option. As more millennials become parents and put their trust in AI to entertain their children, companies such as Facebook and Apple will develop platforms that draw in alphas and indirectly, millennials.
Companies such as Amazon, Facebook in America and the UK are creating products to cater to the alpha demographic.