While Generations X, Y and Z are firmly on the radar of marketers and communications experts in South Africa and globally, consideration needs to be given to the next generation on the rise, Generation Alpha.
“Born between 2010 and 2025, the successors of Generation Z are expected to be the wealthiest, longest living, highly-educated, technologically-connected and transformative generation to date. Engaging with them will require deep insight into what drives them,” says Jacki McEwen, Eclipse Communications founding partner and strategist.
The term Generation Alpha was coined by demographer and sociologist, Mark McCrindle. He has estimated that 2.5 million Generation Alphas are born globally every week, and will account for about two-billion of the global population by 2025.
McEwen says Generation Alpha is the first group to be immersed in technology practically from birth. “This means their interactions with technology will commence at a much younger age than any previous generation. Digital disruption, the fourth industrial revolution, artificial intelligence and machine learning are their normal.”
Recent research has revealed that they are concerned about global issues such as taking care of the environment, food security, fair treatment and safety at school far earlier than any generation before them.
“The emergence of an opinionated and highly socially conscious generation means brands will have to earn their social license to operate more than ever before, and transparency will be key. It is interesting that this generation also seems to be more defiant than earlier generations and does not like to play by the rules. This means communicating with them requires nimble footwork, and persuading them, authentic and convincing arguments,” adds McEwen.
Of course, Generation Alpha’s are expected to communicate almost exclusively via social media as they connect 24/7 across social, geographic and demographic territories and their choices are largely shaped by their peers and their mutually shared interests.
McEwen says another exciting opportunity for marketers is that Generation Alphas are more culturally diverse, “gender blurred” and open-minded than previous generations. “This is a generation that is likely to experiment, embrace new ideas and express their individuality in interesting and unique ways. Marketers will need to understand each of their target audiences on a micro level to find innovative ways to draw them in.”
Generation Alpha’s are also born influencers. Enter what Forbes calls “mommy and me” influencers as well as some of the youngest influencers on the planet. Currently, the highest-paid YouTuber – with more than 25 million subscribers – is eight and already has a clothing and toy range to his name.
“Communication strategies will need to be highly personalised for particular groups within the broader Generation Alpha category. A blanket or one size fits all approach will just not cut it,” says McEwen. “They will expect brands to embrace AR or AI for interactive and highly responsive experiences, whether they are purchasing food from a grocery store, investing in a car or buying insurance.”
McEwen says it is also important for marketers to understand the implications of what holds the attention Generation Alpha. “They are more likely to watch a brief video on current global trends than read an article. This means brands need to become more visually appealing to this target audience.
“Ultimately, communication strategies for Generation Alpha should comprise ‘living’ tactics that can be adapted quickly where necessary, that are socially relevant, visually appealing and that optimise the technological preferences of this group,” she concludes.
Jacki McEwen is Eclipse Communications founding partner and strategist.