Generation Z and Millennials get all the attention. Sure, they have a significant share of buying power—but an entire generation of new consumers are influencing purchase decisions, and most haven’t yet entered junior high. Born between 2010 and 2025, the oldest members of the Alpha Generation are now 12 years old. Experts estimate this cohort will include approximately 2 billion people worldwide in 2025.
Understanding what makes this generation tick will help brands cater to their buying preferences as we watch them grow up. How are brands preparing for Generation Alpha? Will today’s kids have similar tastes or preferences to their Millennial parents? Here’s what you need to know about the upcoming cohort of customers, leaders, and influencers.
Who is the Alpha Generation
Generation Alpha comprises children born in or after 2010—the year Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPad. The oldest children in this generation are tweens. Two and a half million Gen Alphas are born every week, according to demographer and social analyst Mark McCrindle. By 2025, their cohort will have more than 2 billion more ethnically and racially diverse members than their predecessors. They are more likely to earn a college degree and be technologically literate than previous generations.
Ashley Fell, social researcher and co-author of Generation Alpha, says that COVID’s economic, social, educational, and psychological impacts will leave lasting marks on this young generation. She also predicts they will value family more, admire “everyday superheroes,” and see work from home as a usual way of life. “They will be a more creative and resilient generation due to the challenges they experienced,” she says.
The Pandemic-Technology Coefficient
Unlike Gen Z, Gen Alpha has had more exposure to technology at an earlier age, thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced this generation to learn online and communicate with classmates through video calls and messaging apps.
They’ve lived through their parents working from home while watching them tune into online classes. Furthermore, they were more likely to stay indoors and play video games rather than venture outside with their friends in the past two years than in years prior. Indeed, this will have lasting effects on this generation that we will see play out as the Alpha Gen comes into its own.
Parents are increasingly giving their children digital access to their wallets and online shopping carts. Whether for gaming, subscriptions, or even just to save time, the data shows an uptick in purchase habits from Gen Alpha. One can only hope there are no surprise $1,000 purchases along the way.
So while they don’t have access to their own money (yet), many kids are already making online purchase decisions—simply dropping items in their parents’ cart for approval/purchase or ordering on their own. This is a new type of buying power that prior generations could only dream of at that age.
Now that toddlers on tablets are mainstream, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Gen Alphas are huge fans of the tech and entertainment giants like YouTube, Netflix, and Apple. This generation looks up to the kids they see on YouTube, streaming platforms, and shows.
Kid influencers have found a massive audience in Gen Alphas. If you have a kid, chances are you have heard of the infamous YouTube channel Ryan’s World (formerly Ryan ToysReview). The channel is one of the Top 10 most-subscribed YouTube channels in the United States, with videos that have amassed more than 50 billion views. At age 10, Ryan Kai creates popular toy reviews, unboxing videos, day-in-the-life vlogs, and kid’s songs. Known as the most famous 10-year-old globally, he has endorsed 1,600 licensed products, including Roblox and Skechers.
Today’s children look up to other kids they see as leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, and creators. Easy accessibility to information means kids are more likely to learn about young influencers and other kids making a difference. For example, 19-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has challenged world leaders to take immediate action on climate change. Likewise, 10-year-old Hannah Grace built her own successful bath bomb business, BeYOUtiful.
Kids today are also more likely to be activists in the home than previous generations. They are aware of social issues surrounding climate change, sexual and gender identity, and racial discrimination. Roughly 20% of Gen Alpha, aged 5 to 9, have even joined a march or protest to champion issues important to them.
“Gen Alpha is the generation that will seek to bend the digital world to their needs and ambitions and not be defined or consumed by it; they will set aside our current worldview stereotypes of identity and difference, and their love for cherishing and saving the physical world around them will change the face of our planet,” said Emma Scott, CEO at Beano Studios, which recently completed a study on the topic.
Gender equality is also a significant cause for members of this generation, with 79% of boys and 86% of girls saying they believe that boys and girls must be treated equally. In this generation, girls are more likely to reject feminine stereotypes that associate them with “dreamers” or “princesses.” Most girls agree that they should be able to pursue any field they want.
Gen Alphas are the most racially diverse generation yet. A study by Brookings found the non-white population in the U.S., including Asians, blacks, Hispanics, and people identifying as multiracial, were the most dominant group of the under-age 15 population (50.1%). To succeed with this generation, marketing campaigns must go beyond simply using images of racially diverse children, with genuine care for consumers from racially diverse backgrounds.
As the saying goes, change starts at home—the same is true for Gen Alphas. Children today are influencing their parents to be environmentally aware when making purchasing decisions. In addition, many of them support brands working to solve environmental issues.
Monica Dreger, former head of global consumer insights at Mattel, said, “Activism is part of their mentality of being able to do something about it, even something small. My kids are plant-based eaters in my family because they want to do their share for the environment.”
Parents have a significant influence on the tastes and preferences of their Gen Alpha children, but it goes both ways. Today’s children have a substantial impact on parent purchasing. Seventy-two percent of parents are willing to involve their children in their purchase journey, even going so far as to let them help research products online, in-store, or by tuning into commercials. Fifty-six percent say they encourage their kids to add products they like to their online shopping cart.
Appealing to both kids and parents is crucial for businesses looking to gain Gen Alpha’s favor. In fact, 84 percent of parents said they were more likely to buy from brands that let them include their children in the shopping process.
In the following years, Gen Alphas will become tech experts, dominate social media, hit puberty, and start their careers. Brands that want to be on their radar must integrate this generation’s perspective into their decision-making process now.