Set to become the world’s largest generation by 2025, the Alpha Generation are your up- and-coming power players – conscious of their health and social causes, cautious about money and digitally different from their predecessors. Rituparna Chatterjee, from our Insight & Strategy team, takes a deep dive into this generation’s attitudes and behaviours to understand the potential for marketers.
What Is Generation Alpha?
Generation Alpha are those born and are yet to be born between 2010 and 2025 (with a majority of them being under 13 and the oldest becoming teens in 2023). Often called the ‘Mini Millennials’, ‘Generation Glass’, ‘Multi-Modals’ or ‘Upagers’, they are mostly children of millennials and siblings to Gen Z-ers. Being witness to a series of unforgettable events – the highest inflation in history, an unresolved pandemic, ongoing climate crisis and technological breakthroughs – the Alpha kids seem to have a more evolved perspective of the world. They seem to be more socially aware, since helping people, equal treatment, caring for the planet, seeing diversity in ads/shows/movies and recycling seems to be among the top 8 priorities for them. Their relationship with technology is also far more personal than the digital natives (Gen Z). On average they start using a tablet as early as seven and own a smartphone by the age of eight. 66% of them are growing up in smart homes and 26% are living in households with VR (Virtual Reality) headsets.
So why is this generation important for brands? With more than 2.8 million Gen Alphas being born worldwide every week, they are set to become the world’s largest generation with over two billion people by 2025. They are also set to represent 27% of the global workforce by 2025 and one out of two are predicted to obtain a university degree. Their current economic impact is massive. As per AdAge, 81% of this audience is already influencing their family’s purchasing decisions to a tune of $500 billion per year. This number is only going to grow further.
Brands have already realised this young generation’s potential as a powerhouse, with many building marketing campaigns around them. Take the case of Nike; last year, the company targeted children for the first time to promote their Air Max sneakers by creating Airtopia, an experience within their Nikeland game on Roblox. Even luxury brands like Gucci aren’t far behind. In October last year, the Italian brand launched its experimental concept store called Gucci Vault Land within The Sandbox intending to make the Alpha kids aware of the brand’s heritage via gamification.
Beano Brain recently conducted a survey asking 30,000 UK-based children aged seven to 14 to rank brands they found to be “cool”. Not surprisingly, Roblox and Nintendo stood at the 10th and ninth spot respectively, while YouTube, Netflix, Mcdonald’s, Amazon and Disney took the top five spots. There was a slight shift when this was seen from a gendered lens. Gaming brands were much higher up in “coolness” among boys, while TikTok was chosen to be among the top 10 “cool” brands by girls.
Generation Alpha Characteristics
Let’s take a deep dive into their likes, dislikes and digital habits to understand this generation a bit more.
This new generation is often called the “upagers”, as they are believed to become socially aware and consumers from an early age. Much of this has to do with the current state of the world they are growing up in, their exposure to technology from an early age and the influence that activists like Greta Thunberg and their parents have in getting them inspired and engaged in social causes from the start. GWI records that helping people, equal treatment, caring for the planet and seeing diversity in media are important among 12-15-year-olds. 46% of teens are either interested in the environment or climate change, however, they feel that brands need to do the heavy lifting and will support brands who do. A report from Wunderman Thompson echoes a similar sentiment wherein 66% of Gen Alpha’s would buy from companies trying to do social good, 63% would like to work for companies to help save the planet and 59% would work at places to help save lives. One in five children aged five to nine has participated in their first march or protest and about half of their parents also encourage them to speak out as activists.
Some brands have already taken notice of this cultural shift. For instance, last year Mattel released their first ever carbon-neutral toy range, a collection of construction toys for preschoolers.
The pandemic saw this generation glued to their screens as they grappled with online learning that inevitably brought about screen fatigue. As per GWI, 24% were listening to podcasts in Q1 2022, up from 21% during the same period the previous year. Whereas, reading online news dipped from 24% in Q1 2021 to 23% in Q1 2022, though the fall is marginal, it does paint a picture of how this generation is more likely to be interested in staying informed via podcasts over news media, which shows the potential brands have in creating podcast-specific content like interviews, limited run series, among others.
This generation can also be seen seeking feel-good content. GWI records that music is the fastest growing TV genre among 12-15-year-olds (+8% increase from Q1 2021) since they can sing and dance to it, showing the impact that TikTok is having on traditional media channels. Music is followed by cartoons (+6%) and science and nature (+4%), whereas soap operas declined by -16%. This also highlights the reason why streaming platforms like YouTube, Netflix and Disney+ have exploded over the past few years. A study by UK regulator Ofcom found that this generation preferred YouTube for its relatable and authentic content. Likewise, TikTok is constantly growing in engagement (+18%) year-on-year because of its low-effort aesthetics giving a down-to-earth, authentic feel.
Micro-communities are also gaining popularity among teens for discussing common interests and sharing how they feel. Discord and Reddit have shown a +21% and +17% increase in usage from Q1 2021. Therefore, community-led, personalised content is going to increase in importance going forward.
Gaming is another digital platform that will thrive among this generation. Over 1 in 4 children outside China say they spend most time playing video games over weekends, ahead of watching TV/movies (18%), using social media (14%) and talking to friends online (6%). This could be because many Gen Alphas might have limited, to no access to smartphones. But it is important to note that the number of children playing on consoles has increased by 9% since 2021, which means that gaming is an important recreational outlet for them.
The current economic climate has made money tight and adults can be seen adjusting their spending habits to focus on budgeting, which is likely to have a trickle-down effect on Gen Alpha. Many parents are already encouraging their children to be financially literate. Around a third of teens already have a bank account that they can access, which has increased by 7% since 2021. They not only have money to their name, but are also learning how to manage it. Greenlight, a fintech company offering debit cards and investment opportunities to children, recorded that in 2021, children aged five to nine years old on their platform managed an average of $204 that year and collectively saved over $225 million. Other fintech brands like RoosterMoney and GoHenry are also providing children with digital platforms to access and manage their pocket money, nurturing this generation to be digital-first in their attitude towards finance.
Social media is not only impacting the way these Alpha kids consume content but is also having a profound influence on their attitude towards spending. For instance, influencers seem to have a significant impact on their purchase decisions. 25% of Gen Alphas find social media influencers influencing them the most and over half of them want to buy products after seeing their favourite YouTube or Instagram personalities use them. Ryan’s World, a YouTube channel hosted by a now 12-year-old Texan boy, launched his own line of toys at Walmart during the 2018 Black Friday sales, which got sold out in 10 minutes!
Growing up amidst a pandemic and with parents who are becoming more health-focused over time, this generation is much more self-aware and resilient. One in three teens describes themselves as health-conscious, which increases to half in Mexico and Spain. There has also been a 10% rise in those worrying about falling ill since 2021. Family health is also their most important concern across 12 markets. These concerns signal the role that health and lifestyle brands could have on this audience in providing assurance.
Marketing Strategies to Target Gen Alpha?
Now that we have seen where members of Generation Alpha’s inclinations and afflictions lie, let’s explore how brands can leverage these insights:
- Social media and video games seem to be more popular among Gen Alphas than socialising face-to-face or pursuing other hobbies. Think about creating authentic and light-hearted video content on YouTube and TikTok and tap into gamification (games, virtual badges, puzzles, etc.) to appeal to this audience. For instance, start a TikTok challenge in collaboration with an influencer, or host a limited-run podcast series featuring influencers
- This generation’s shopping habits seem to be significantly driven by social media influencers. You can build brand awareness and trust by collaborating with an influencer to launch targeted campaigns or create sponsored content. Alternatively, look at featuring influencer testimonials on your website and social media platforms
- Discord and Reddit are slowly gaining traction among this audience, therefore it is important for brands to leverage these platforms to build tight knit communities for them to discuss shared interests. Consider creating a fandom but ensure that the content there reflects your brand values
- They are socially aware and demand brands to be the same, which means that brands need to align with this generation’s value system by embedding DE&I (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) and eco-friendly practices into their marketing and communications. Try to include data in your ads and use influencers as trusted partners for your initiatives. This audience is also health-conscious which means that there is potential for brands within the health and wellness space to offer preventive programmes and initiatives to appease Gen Alpha’s worried minds
- They are predicted to have the highest spending power in history. Encouraged to manage and save money from an early age by their parents, this generation is going to be more money-conscious, which means that they will seek value from their purchases and brands that are able to highlight that value will be able to appeal to this generation
Looking into the future, it will be exciting to see the role this generation will play in changing the current marketing landscape to align with their beliefs.
If you are a brand that caters to this generation or are contemplating targeting them, we are here to help you create and execute a digital marketing programme built specifically to gauge this audience’s interest. To know more about it, get in touch with us.