In a few years, Generation Alpha – the children of the Millennials – will cross the two billion mark, making them the largest generation in the history of the world. They are a generation like no other – the first generation to be born entirely in the 21st century. They are the most digitally connected, whose formative years were spent in a pandemic and who have experienced seismic cultural and geo-political shifts on an unprecedented scale unlike that since World War Two: Covid-19, Brexit, war in Europe, mass inflation, climate emergencies and more. They are also predicted to be the wealthiest, the most educated and to live the longest of any previous generation. In the full original report, CORQ. talks to industry experts, game-changers and thought leaders to find out who are Generation Alpha? And what is shaping them?
Generation Alpha are the youngest people alive today. The demographic slice begins with children born in 2010 and will finish with those born in 2025. They directly follow the complicated Generation Z (whose starting point is distrust) and are the children of the much-maligned Millennials. The term “Generation Alpha” was coined in 2008 by Mark McCrindle, the founder of Australian consulting agency McCrindle Research.
McCrindle’s definition has infused the generation with a mythic power – they are the Alphas after all – but it is also rooted in the singularities that apply to this generation. They were born in 2010, the year the iPad was launched, Instagram was created, and App was a word of the year. Their absolute connectivity – research by the children’s charity Childwise suggested that the majority of British three- and four-year-olds owned an internet-connected device by 2018 – means this generation is not only virtual but global, with influences flowing East to West and back again with unprecedented flow. Access to the internet has become ubiquitous and reliance on it absolute. Alpha’s decade has already seen the back of fax machines, GPS units, Blackberrys, MP3 players, textbooks, countless hand-held devices and products that are now obsolete. The move from immovable computers to total integration, and the same with streaming – from HiFi units that took up an entire wall to Spotify – is accelerating. This generation may sometimes be called “screenagers” but Alex Hamilton, head of innovation at Dentsu Creative, goes one step further, saying “they don’t even see the screen”.
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Post-Covid and pre-teen, family is the most significant relationship in Generation Alpha’s life – and market forces mean they will probably live at home longer than even Gen Z before them. Alphas are parented by Millennials, who, perhaps because they have been labelled the “snowflake generation”, are more likely to focus on the importance of mental health in their parenting. Not only that but Generation Alpha have co-parents – despite the fact that mothers still do the more significant share of the housework and childcare, post-lockdown culture shifts mean fathers have stepped into the childcare arena like never before.
This strong relationship with and focus on family, combined with the extreme external pressures already experienced in Alphas’ short lives – some of the generation will have spent 25-50% of their lives in some kind of lockdown – might actually imbue them with more flexibility and mental resilience, as well as making them active participants in changing the shape of the world around them. How will this translate in the commercial arena? Well, for example, they might buy because they “approve” of what a brand stands for.
Because of their extreme youth, Alpha are, as defined by gaming studio Kanjo Health founder Sophia Parvizi-Wayne, “digitally literate but not digitally autonomous”. However, despite their lack of digital autonomy, they are autonomous in their digital worlds. The games that they play, the virtual worlds they exist in, from Minecraft to TikTok and Roblox, mean they are essentially existing in virtual economies; they natively appreciate the importance and relevance of virtual assets as well as working for virtual credit or translating fiat currency to in-game currency. It’s no less active.
This active element is a crucial part in all focus around Alpha. Yes, they live in a virtual world but they are active participants in it and this will translate into their real-world expectations. They are a generation of co-creators – and this idea must be absolutely at the heart of every decision made in talking with this generation.
By Emilie McMeekan, CORQ. features director. Picture credit: Kim Kardashian via Instagram