Born between 2010 and 2024, Generation Alpha is the next wave that will hit all markets in the next decade. Are you ready?
We often find that it is helpful to classify generations into groups with similar characteristics so we can make informed predictions about the best ways to market to them. There was the Baby Boom Generation, the Millennials, and so on through Gen Z. The latest to hit our radar screen is Generation Alpha (also called Generation Glass, Gen Alpha, Upagers, The Alphas, Global Gen and Multi-modals).
Generation Alpha represents potential consumers born between 2010 and 2024. Its oldest members are just approaching buying status. They are born to be digital, with those who lived through a long quarantine (during the 2020 pandemic) already sharpening their online consuming habits. These youngsters already know how to flex their muscles when it comes to influencing household buying decisions, and their strength will only grow as they shape the future of marketing.
If the Alphas are not already a part of your content marketing strategy, they should be. Here are a few startling facts from Australia’s McCrindle Research report on Understanding Generation Alpha that should really make you sit up and take notice:
- One in seven people are already part of this generation, with over 2.8 million more Generation Alpha members born each week!
- The generation is growing rapidly, to say the least! At this rate, it is expected that there will be 2.2 billion Multi-modals by 2025.
- Trends indicate that this will be the largest generation, and that they will live longer. They will outnumber the Baby Boomers, and many will live to see the 22nd century.
But, what do all those numbers mean to today’s marketing pros as you try to develop branded content to appeal to the next generation? Let’s take a look.
What Makes Generation Alpha Tick?
“Gen Alpha is the next step beyond digital native. Their understanding of what it means to be connected to other people, what it means to own something and use pieces of your own experience to create something entirely new will result in a group of young people unlike any we’ve seen before – they will be completely untethered to time, space, location or people.”
– Dr. Thalia R. Goldstein, George Mason University
According to audience research, this emerging consumer powerhouse is already providing insights into what lies ahead:
- Technology is in: They were born the same year as Instagram and the iPad, weaned on LeapFrog, home-schooled during COVID, and already demand 5g access. These clues should be a pretty good indicator of their comfort with technology. As they grow into their own, they will want faster and more accurate access to information and technology.
- Communication at the speed of SnapChat and streaming: It’s fast, it’s furious, it’s here and it’s gone. These now-youngsters communicate at the speed of light. They get a message and respond immediately. They have a question, and get an instant response from SIRI. Imagine how that will translate into their approach to making buying decisions over the next few years, and then think about what your brand, product or service needs to change to be able to respond. That means mobile- and voice-friendly search response capabilities, providing a constant stream of short information tidbits for instantaneous connections, and making sure your content strategy provides information in an always-accessible manner.
- Social plus: This is a generation that has never known the delay of a letter, or the wait for a telephone call, to interact with others in their social circle. It’s all right there at their fingertips. This indicates that marketers will have to force their way into this circle of influence as well. It may require more YouTube or live-streaming videos, social media marketing specialists, podcasts, or the involvement of social media influencers to attract their attention and motivate them to take the next step in the buying journey.
- Attachment “challenged”: Households are no longer those of the traditional nuclear family; they may contain one or two parents, same sex or different, and family makeup may change over the years as parents and siblings revolve in and out. The family might move frequently, so it can be difficult to form long-term relationships with friends, neighbors and school mates. They probably won’t look for a life-long job or career, and may jump easily from one pursuit to another. All this fluidity could indicate that it will be harder than ever to form meaningful relationships with them as they grow into adult consumers. The “mom and pop” shop or neighborhood store doesn’t have the same appeal to somebody who can instantly order anything they want from anywhere in the world. Content of the future may have to focus on continuously strengthening those bonds, and reminding prospects/customers why they really, really want to buy from you.
- Diversity: With a further blurring of racial and ethnic lines, Generation Alpha is continuously exposed to diversity online and in real life. Content marketers can no longer afford to pretend that they are talking to one, monolithic group. They will need to develop strategies that communicate inclusively to diverse backgrounds and populations, presenting information in ways that appeal equally to all.
- Education: With the loving devotion of parents who enable them to stay in school longer, the Alphas have the potential to become very well-educated. Think about communicating in ways that encourage investigation and sharing of knowledge.
- Community: It is difficult for the Alphas to build trusting relationships when the world around them is changing so quickly. They turn to their online networks for information and guidance, especially when it comes to making buying decisions. In the future, it will become increasingly more important for marketers to cultivate the primary influencers in these consensus-building networks, and to obtain their approval of marketing approaches.
When Will Generation Alpha Really Flex Its Buying Power?
Currently, the oldest members of Generation Alpha are just looking at their teen years, but those next few years will fly by ever so quickly. The year 2030 is getting closer everyday, and then what? According to McCrindle:
“This generation will stay in education longer, start their earning years later, and so stay at home with their parents for longer than was previously the case.”
Even though it looks like the Alphas might delay some aspects of adulthood, they still need to be respected as potent buying forces. Examples of the type of goods they might be interested in purchasing include:
- Screens, screens, screens: We don’t call them “screenagers” for nothing. This generation will be the most connected, either through their phones, wearable devices, or glasses. They will look for increasingly sophisticated ways to interact with their technology at home, in school, and at work. Cars will continue evolving to meet their demands for driverless transportation, so they can continue to focus on their technology while being transported from one location to another.
- Artificial intelligence: Generation Alpha will look for more products that intuitively know what they want and need, and can interact in ways that are more individualized to their unique personalities.
- Gender neutrality: Some brands are already beginning to move away from traditional concepts of products for “girls” and “boys.” They are eliminating separate aisles in stores, and have ditched the pink and blue gender identifiers. In their place, marketers of the future will have to communicate in a way that appeals to all potential consumers, not just one segment.
- Social awareness: Beyond being just good providers of a product or service, businesses might have to demonstrate to this generation that they are socially aware citizens as well. This next generation is more likely to buy from companies that make a positive impact or contribute to social causes they support, but it can be a double-edged sword as they are also likely to stop buying from companies that contribute to causes they do not support.
It’s a new millennium, a new century, and a new generation – so let’s get ready now to communicate with Generation Alpha effectively! Toast Studio has been following the latest trends in content marketing for over 20 years. Our goal is to help brands and advertisers better connect with target demographics through digital and traditional media platforms. Book one of our content experts or sign up for our newsletter to stay informed about the latest trends in generational audience insights.
[Originally published February 8th, 2020, last updated June 28th, 2021]