Generation Alpha - Everything Hinges on Technology
As most marketing and sales professional are struggling to understand Generation Z, the emerging generation of post-millennials, a select few are taking the unique approach of passing over this group to focus on the next group; Generation Alpha. This next generation will be made of up people born between 2010 and 2025. For those keeping score, this may be the first time in history, marketers and product manufacturers are developing sales strategies for a generation which hasn’t even been completely born. It’s an opportunity to pre-position a company well-ahead of the competition, and it might work, as long as those companies are positioned to remain financially healthy until at least 2020 where they’ll be able to see returns on a risky strategy.
The Brass Ring
The risk of failure seems huge, especially in light of the speed the world changes. Yet, the potential rewards are beyond imagination. By the numbers, we know that there are approximately 2.5 million Alphas born every week across the globe.(1)The total size of Generation Alpha (worldwide) is expected to be around two billion people. Generation Z already accounts for over $40 billion in annual spending in the United States alone, and that substantial amount is generated from only 65 million people. In the global quest for dollars and cents, Generation Alpha is poised to be the brass ring of all brass rings; at least until Generation Beta rises to notoriety.
Alpha Equals Technological Advancement
So what do we know about this emerging generation? Indicators are that Generation Alpha will be the most intelligent, have more formal education, and at the end of the day, are expected to be the wealthiest generation in the planet’s history. Technological advances were highly impactful in defining Generation Y and even more so for Generation Z, so naturally we’d expect this to continue as the key metric in imagining the future. Generation Alpha will be in the front row for the expected quantum shift in nearly every aspect of human existence due to technology; taking the emerging technologies of today further and faster than anyone might have expected. The self-driving cars being tested today are expected to be in heavy production by 2021(2), and it’s expected that the Alpha’s will be the ones to implement the changes needed to the global transportation system to support them. On-line shopping continues to redefine the marketplace for everything from apples to zippers and this channel has unlimited growth. Alphas will be logistical experts, moving freight faster and more efficiently than anything we are experiencing today.
Fearless Technological Implementation
Since no one in the next generation will remember life without smartphones, tablet computers, streaming digital content, and an App for just about every perceived need there might be, there is very little fear about technology. Today’s workers are concerned with losing their jobs to robots; an idea that would have seemed foolish ten years ago but now seems inevitable. There are other controversies about drones being used for war, human-like robots being marketed for pleasure and the entire “what if” scenario that Artificial Intelligence presents. The irony of discussing technology today is the number of people today who claim they aren’t completely comfortable with electronic devices controlling parts of their lives on one hand, compared to the all-time high reliance on smartphones. Generation Alpha will be fearless when it comes to implementing technology in every aspect of human life.
Unprecedented Changes Ahead
Entire industries will likely change during the Alpha and later Beta years; Self-driving cars are just the beginning. Education in the future will no longer have a human component, instead being managed by a robotic instructor or a computer. The legal system will also be revamped, and justice will once again be blind to the sways of nefarious lawyers or agenda-driven judges. The medical community is already delivering benefits from emerging technologies, but it will be quickly forgotten once bio-engineered organs and tissue are being used to prolong human life and natural selection is given an electronic helping hand in eliminating genetic diseases. Shipping will be drone-based and warehouse will be run by robots. Manufacturing will be ultra-efficient and product life-cycles will continue to shrink. Energy needs will grow, especially electricity, and it’s expected that Alphas will see the implementation of a global energy grid based entirely on renewable energy sources. Space travel will become normal as commuting to work and off-earth industries will lure workers into uncharted territories.
Waiting to Cash In
Working smarter and working less will be paramount to this generation. However, just because they seem to have the red carpet rolled out for new opportunities, some of the traits of generation Z will likely continue if not worsen. The irony is that the things perceived as problems will also result from advancing technology. The social isolation many young people self-impose on themselves will only get worse with more technology advancements. Even simple pleasures such as taking a shopping trip, going to the cinema, or even visiting a park will be replaced with virtual entertainment. The only connections many of these Alphas make will be virtual friendships and it may result in an explosion of psychological problems that are related to being alone. The belief that millennials are demanding and spoiled will be surpassed; the expectations will be higher for immediate satisfaction and a higher degree of disappointment for failure to deliver. The “Peter Pan” syndrome we are seeing with the youth of the world fighting tooth and nail to avoid becoming adults will only get worse. This last point is the one that worries marketers and product manufacturers the most; if generation Alpha lingers too long before entering the job market, the bet on tapping into their purchasing power might come up short.
(1) Forbes, “The Complete Guide To Generation Alpha, The Children Of Millennials”
December 21st, 2016
(2) Business Insider, “19 companies racing to put self-driving cars on the road by 2021”
October 17th, 2016