2020 TIME - PART 1: GEN ALPHA

WHO ARE GEN ALPHA?

we need to preemptively give them a new name. there is no way teenagers being called gen alpha isn't going to go to their heads lmao. And if people continue following the Greek alphabet, the generation after them is Gen Beta, imagine all the meme potential, lol”  - Reddit user on Gen Alpha. 

As ‘Millennials’ head into middle age and ‘Gen Z’ take centre stage as young adults, future focused conversations will turn to examine the experiences, behaviours and attitudes of Gen Alpha. This generation were born (or will be) between 2010 and 2025 - the oldest of them now being 9 or 10 years old. These kids are not only following in the footsteps of Gen Z by being connected to the internet and technology from the day they are born, they are also a generation of young people growing up at a time of unprecedented technological advancement and experimentation:

“A baby learns how to use a touch-screen device by the age of two. Parents panic as a toddler talks to Alexa and gets a response full of explicit material. A father is so concerned about his unemployed son’s gaming habits that he hires in-game assassins to kill his avatar... The next generation of young people will have unprecedented exposure to technology. Generation Alpha – a term coined by social researcher Mark McCrindle to describe the cohort of people born in 2010 onwards – will play, learn and interact in new ways. They are born into a landscape in which devices are intelligent, everything is connected and physical and digital environments merge into one. As they grow up, technologies that appear new or unusual to older generations will be a normal part of their lives, and will shape their experiences, attitudes and expectations of the world. Some neuro - scientists and psychologists even believe that their minds will be in some ways different to those of previous generations.” Wired

As such, this generation’s development and maturation as teenagers and young adults will be unique - and maybe somewhat unpredictable as their minds and behaviours are influenced by new technologies - but we can certainly promise it won’t be boring. 

TRAITS OF GEN ALPHA: INCLUSIVE, TECH LITERATE & VALUE-DRIVEN  

“Generation Alpha will be the most formally educated generation ever, the most technology-supplied generation ever, and globally the wealthiest generation ever.” Mark McCrindle

If Gen Z’s defining characteristic is ‘wired like the internet’ (being the first generation to grow up with smartphone/digital connectivity), Gen Alpha’s defining characteristic is ‘unprecedented diversity.’ This is shaped by having strong ethics, greater economic stability, greater racial diversity and inclusivity being seen as the norm. Research among this generation today has showed that Generation Alpha are ‘post-stereotypical’ - they are the first to  ‘judge people by who they are, not what they are.’ We’re already seeing brands like Mattel release products like gender neutral dolls, which are in-line with this accepting worldview. 

There are endless themes to explore with regards to technology as young kids are increasingly learning and ‘coming of age’ through digital interactions. It’s reported that already, they are better at spotting fake news, are not tech-dependent and will protest about things they don’t feel are right for society.’  Elsewhere it’s predicted that interactions with tech will enable more specialised brains: “individuals’ brains are becoming dominated by a narrow domain of problems and are increasingly specialised for specific tasks.” 

GEN ALPHA: WORK & BRANDS

Of course, these traits will impact this generation’s interaction with brands and businesses: 66% of all Gen Alpha say they ‘want to buy from companies that are trying to do good in the world’. Communicating what you’re doing and why you’re doing it to these people will bring new challenges and opportunities. 

When it comes to spending their time as adults and making a living, it’s little surprise that we’re seeing Gen Alpha looking toward value-driven jobs that will help make the world a better place:

59% would like to work somewhere saving lives, while 51% want a job where they can use technology to make a difference… Echoing the rallying cry of gen Z climate activists, 67% of 6-9-year-olds say that saving the planet will be the focus of their career.” JWT

BRAND TAKEOUTS

The debate about technology and technology’s effect on young people is only going to get louder and louder. Alongside this, our understanding of one another as humans and as individuals will need to become more resilient - and Gen Alpha are already making strides towards this with their radical inclusiveness. Planning for the future will be to design experiences and products for individuals from a digital sense, yes - but from a practical perspective, designing for diversity (and for the many) is critical. With this, communicating correctly from the perspective of ‘purpose’ will be key.

Of course this is a simple top level perspective of the young people who will define the youth culture conversation in the years to come. But, if you start tracking and staying tuned in with Gen Alpha now, you’ll be better prepared for what’s coming down the line. 

Stay tuned for more on 2020s trends - if the next year is already being predicted to be the ‘most volatile year in history’ we’re going to have a lot to talk about.