An introduction to Gen Alpha – what CPG brands need to know now

Gen Z has had a tight grip on CPG brands over the last few years, bringing with them new trends, consumer behaviours and brand relationship dynamics. In 2024, brands are turning their heads to the generation following in Gen Z’s footsteps, born from 2010-2024: Gen Alpha. In this blog post, we want to explore what makes this generation so unique and find answers to some burning questions:

  • Who is Gen Alpha?
  • How was the generation shaped by a global pandemic?
  • How is their relationship with technology evolving?
  • How do Gen Z content creators and Millennial parents shape Gen Alpha’s preferences and behaviours?
  • Why should brands already care about Gen Alpha?

Defining a generation: Who is Gen Alpha?

Generation Alpha is born between 2010 and 2024, making them the first generation to be born entirely in the 21st century. According to McCrindle, a leader in Gen Alpha research, Gen Alpha will be the largest generation in the history of the world by the time they are all born – almost 2 billion in 2025. Likewise, they are expected to be the most tech-savvy generation, leaving behind analogue watches (even smartphones ?!) and working as space tourism agents.

Why do we call them Generation Alpha?

In addition to their extensive research, it was also McCrindle that coined the term ‘Gen Alpha’. Here is what the agency’s founder Mark McCrindle has to say about it:

“Just over a decade ago, when I was researching my first book The ABC of XYZ: Understanding the Global Generations, it became apparent that a new generation was about to commence and there was no name for them.

This was just after the Atlantic hurricane season of 2005, when there were so many storms that the normal alphabetic names had been used up and so for the first time, the Greek alphabet was used.

In keeping with this scientific nomenclature of using the Greek alphabet in lieu of the Latin, and having worked our way through Generations X, Y and Z, I settled on the next cohort being Generation Alpha- not a return to the old, but the start of something new.

Generational definitions are most useful when they span a set age range and so allow meaningful comparisons across generations. That is why the generations today each span 15 years with Generation Y (Millennials) born from 1980 to 1994; Generation Z from 1995 to 2009 and Generation Alpha from 2010 to 2024.”

Socialising during COVID-19: How was the generation shaped by a global pandemic?

While McCrindle coined the term Generation Alpha, many are suggesting that the generation would more appropriately be named Generation C or ‘Coronials’ – in an effort to reflect on the enormous impact that the global pandemic and its aftermath had on the generation that has been born or growing up since 2020.

The fact that Gen Alpha grew up in predominantly online classrooms and environments during the different lockdowns worldwide, meant that they did not benefit from the same in-person interaction with their peers and teachers that previous generations at the same age did, and consequently struggle with social interaction. While it will take years for the repercussions of these lockdowns to become fully apparent, many parents have reported that the switch [from offline to online] harmed children’s social, emotional, and behavioral well-being. Additionally, experts are suggesting that these children’s ability to deal with conflict could be impaired, simply because they had less chances to solve issues, for example on the schoolyard.

While it is almost certain that the pandemic years, aka Gen Alpha’s developmental years, will become one of the defining and uniting experiences of the generation, here is hoping that this will also turn these children into a more creative and resilient generation due to the challenges they experienced.

Growing up in front of an iPad: How is their relationship with technology evolving?

Gen Alpha’s upbringing in remote environments has naturally increased the generation’s dependence on anything technological. While the case can certainly be made that all generations are increasingly dependent on technologies at this point, Gen Alpha is a special case. Here is what McCrindle has to say on the topic:

“From shorter attention spans to the gamification of education, from increased digital literacy to impaired social formation, these times impact us all but transform those in their formative years. Generation Alpha began being born in 2010, the year the iPad was launched, Instagram was created, and App was the word of the year – and so from their earliest years, they have been screenagers.”

Moving beyond social media, gaming has become a pillar of Gen Alpha’s interaction with their friends. A study conducted by GWI from 2022 tells us that platform Roblox is up 28% amongst Gen Alphas since early 2021, and that almost half of 8-11 year-olds will talk with their friends online while they game. Indeed, Roblox has been dubbed the ‘most social ecosystem on the planet’, underlining the importance of such channels for brands if they want to speak to the young generation where it spends its time.

Additionally, Gen Alpha’s unique access to and understanding of new and emerging technologies offer them a new spin on ‘kid-powered entrepreneurship’. Gen Alpha does not need to run a good old, analogue, lemonade stand but can use an array of digital tools to earn a little money and hone their digital skills. Consequently, Gen Alpha will take Gen Z’s creator economy and turn it into an even more legitimate, and profitable, path.

Influencing the next generation: How do Gen Z content creators and Millennial parents shape Gen Alpha’s preferences and behaviours?

The generational debate has captivated media, brands and society in recent years. Between Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Gen Z, there were plenty of differences in attitudes, preferences and needs that characterised each generation. As Gen Alpha is getting ready to take over, the interesting question is how do the generations influence each other? Gen Z is dominating the internet for now, but how much Gen Z legacy will be carried on by their successors? How much influence will their Millennials parents have over Gen Alpha – will they truly be ‘Mini-Millennials’?

What is perhaps most interesting about the dynamic between Millennials and Gen Alpha, is their respective relationship with technology. Millennials might not have been raised as true digital natives the way their children are growing up, however, they have been dealing with Facebook and the likes for long enough, to understand both the benefits and detriments of our lives of increased connectivity. In other words, the generational technology gap is closing.

A topic that sparks serious discussion is the idea of ‘sharenting’: Gen Alpha children are often a part of what their parents share to social media, a practice that ranges from posts to private accounts, to so-called family influencers that build their following and paid promotions around their children. In an extreme form of sharenting, some Gen Alpha children themselves are the influencers, promoting brands and products in what is certainly the next step in social media’s influencer craze. Similar to the Covid years, we cannot yet say the impact such overexposure online could have on the children, but presumably this could lead to problems related to self-image and mental health.

As for the relationship between Gen Z and Gen Alpha, it seems to currently play out predominantly on social media and other relevant platforms, where Gen Z creators dominate [Gen Alpha’s] feeds. However, we are already noticing that Gen Alpha is diversifying from Gen Z language and humour online – and Gen Zers cannot keep up! A great example of this is Gen Alpha meme ‘Skibidi toilet’ which is a web series of animated heads that live out of toilets. As a Gen Z myself, I can certifiably say that this goes over my head, and that my generation has probably encountered the first social media phenomenon that we are too old to understand.

Marketing to the new generation: Why should brands already care about Gen Alpha?

Brands were somewhat taken by surprise when Gen Z consumers took centre stage and should be careful not to make the same mistake with Gen Alpha. By the time Gen Alpha has aged into teens with agency, influence, and disposable income, it will already be too late.

An analysis from Shopify points to the importance of establishing two-way relationships with your Gen Alpha customer. They want to be involved and expect to be included in important conversations surrounding brand purpose, products and commitments. This expectation, to be able to “talk back”, is also reflected in their choice of technology. Gen Alpha has been raised on tech platforms that have always prioritised active creation, rather than passive consumption, meaning the likes of TikTok, Minecraft and Roblox. As a consequence, brands need to find ways to connect with the generation in the channels that are (becoming) relevant, as they emerge: What, for example, will be the next TikTok, the next Roblox?

Moreover, Gen Alpha’s consumer choices and behaviours will be naturally shaped by their parents – making it likely that Millennial preferences will make some sort of comeback. An emphasis on minimalist, high quality, “clean” (natural, organic, free from chemicals), and Instagram-worthy products has become a status symbol for parents who were among the first to have their parenting put under the microscope of social media. Will Millennial brand favourites manage to turn Gen Alpha into loyal customers beyond parental exposure?


Now, do we know how Generation Alpha will actually turn out? No.

A generation needs to grow up before unique generational traits truly start to reveal themselves. Nevertheless, the hints about future behaviour that are outlined in this blog post should be taken into careful consideration to future-proof your brand now.

For what it’s worth, we have some time before we need to start taking Generation Beta (those born between 2025 and 2039) into account!

Karen Rickers Karen Rickers