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Social media, Strategy

What is Generation Alpha?

1 October 2018
A child using a tablet | What is Generation Alpha? | Neon

Whether you like it or not, your existence is packaged into a binding generational segment.

For marketers and trend forecasters alike, grouping people based on when they were born is a necessity: it means that you can be advertised to and sold to based on your life experiences. What technology are you accustomed to? What was the sociopolitical climate like when you were growing up? What will you respond to?

The advertising and marketing industry requires marketers to be one step ahead – always thinking about what’s going to happen next. So, with this in mind, children as young as 10-years-old have already been profiled as Generation Alpha. A term coined by sociologist Mark McCrindle, this group refers to children born between 2011 and 2025. An estimated 2.5 million alphas are born globally every week, and they’re already wielding significant social influence and becoming major players in the influencer marketing sphere.

A Brave New World

You might be thinking, why are we already trying to define a group of people who are still watching Spongebob SquarePants? It’s all about their relationship with digital technology. The children of millennials and Generation Z, Generation Alpha are expected to be the wealthiest and most technologically-connected group to date, with children barely out of velcro-shoes already acting as Instagram influencers.

The birth of Generation Alpha has already had a knock-on effect on the retail industry and spending trends. With millennial parents dropping more cash on their children than other generations, it’s no surprise that Generation Alpha is, from a young age, accustomed to certain spending habits, trends, brands and fashions.

Cranfield University Professor, Joe Nellis, pointed out that Generation Alpha will likely take on jobs that don’t even exist yet. With textbooks switched for iPads, online courses now readily available and even the use of artificial intelligence and robotics nurturing Generation Alpha’s upbringing, it’s not surprising that marketers are going to have to be savvier than ever to captivate the alpha audience.

Community, Identity, Stability

Whilst older generations’ biggest heroes might have been Blue Peter stars or CBeebies presenters, Alphas have been exposed to sites like YouTube from birth instead of traditional television and broadcasting. There is an endless stream of YouTube content available for children, so much so in fact that it’s caused issues for parents around the world. In 2014, Variety issued a survey polling whether online influencers are more popular than mainstream celebs among U.S. teens: the answer was, yes.

With Generation Alpha so caught up in the online world, it’s more likely that they’d lust after something EvanTubeHD reviewed than Justin Bieber endorsed. Nine-year-old Evan, the kid behind the EvanTubeHD unboxing channel, reportedly generates around $1.3 million per year as a video influencer. Let that sink in: a nine-year-old’s access to technology has allowed him to create videos that earn seven-figures per year.

With Generation Alpha’s community and identity so ingrained in the online world, marketers need to turn to relatable figure-heads to promote and endorse their products. If you want Generation Alpha begging their parents to buy your product, you should instead get YouTube star and social influencer Jenn McAllister (who started blogging at the tender age of 12) to rave about your business, instead of Kylie Jenner or the latest Love Island couple.

If you think about how crucial influencer marketing has been to reach the millennial and Gen Z audiences, increase it tenfold when thinking about Generation Alpha. As Generation Alpha matures, so will their investment in technology and the online world. Reaching and selling to this audience becomes less about who’s on the red carpet, and more about what’s trending on Instagram or going viral on Twitter – after all, this is all that Alphas know.

Want to learn more about influencer marketing? Reap the benefits and explore the impact of influencers with our FREE guide here.

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