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13 Things to Know about the Alpha Generation


originally published in Ad Age

Members of the Alpha Generation, on the heels of Generation Z, are only 0 to 2 years old today. They account for absolutely no purchasing power. But they will soon take over the world — because that&;s what subsequent generations supposedly do.

I have spent thousands of hours observing one member of the Alpha Generation, and I have done meticulous ethnographic research on her peers in playdates, at family gatherings, and at the cutest baby ballet classes ever. Here, for the first time, I am publishing critical insights about the Alpha Generation — dubbed "alphers" to ensure that they forever resent their forebears.

1. They hate the sharing economy. Anyone you meet in the Alpha Generation is likely to be decidedly anti-sharing. In fact, ethnographies have revealed that not a single member of this generation wants to share anything. That&39;s good news for marketers: Ownership is back. The more verbal among this generation may not even be able to say the word "share," but they are likely to shout utterances such as, "Mine!" and "All mine!"

2. They are very mobile, except when they&39;re stationary. Those in the trailing cohort of Generation Alpha, particularly those 0 to 6 months, tend not to be mobile at all. They just sit there.

3. They don&39;t care about privacy. This is exemplified by their strange habit of always trying to take off their clothes, or at least a single sock. Building on the narcissistic tendencies of millennials and centennials, alphers are extreme exhibitionists.

4. They don&39;t play by the rules. Want to play chess with them? Forget it — they&39;ll eat your rook. Want them to color within the lines? They&39;ll break your crayon. Want them to watch your 30-second pre-roll spot before your video loads? They will come to your office, take off their diapers, and pee all over your stand-up desk until you accept that they&39;re the ones in control now.

5. They break free of any boundaries. Just try to restrain them in any way. Whether you&39;re putting them in a diaper, swaddling blanket, snowsuit, high chair or car seat, alphers will find a way to get out of it.

6. Full-fat, organic dairy is in. Don&39;t buy them skim milk. They know that decades-old spurious research on saturated fat led to nutrition guidelines that spurred the obesity epidemic. They want their dairy real, and fresh — with many in the younger Alpha Generation cohort preferring to drink mother&39;s milk right from the source. This trend has been documented in literally every country.

7. Carbs are in, too. Crackers are huge. Cookies go over well. Pasta, rice, cereal and vitamin-fortified puffs are all staples. Many are practically addicted to macaroni and cheese. Maybe there&39;s something to it, as alphers are said to have the longest life expectancy of any cohort yet. We should all be on the AG diet.

8. They eschew organized religion. When participating in any kind of formalized worship, alphers are inclined to scream or shout so loud that they must be taken outside, or conversely they will sleep through an entire service. If such atheistic tendencies hold true into adulthood, it could drastically alter the presidential elections of 2032 and beyond.

9. They are reinventing wearables. The Alpha Generation prefers low-tech wearables. Everyone in this cohort from about six months and up tends to wear milk, Cheerios, peas, crackers or noodles on every single part of their body any time they attempt to eat. Additionally, they love wearing dirt, stickers, blankets, crayon marks, their parents&39; shoes and jewelry, and other accessories not typically spotted on Milan&39;s runways.

10. What&39;s better than touchscreens? Tastescreens.Generation Z, millennials, and even boomers fell in love with touchscreens. Alphers — avant garde pioneers that they are — try to operate devices via their sense of taste. They will lick or attempt to ingest any and all technologies, including analog devices such as books. Unfortunately, product manufacturers have yet to equip their products with taste sensors to appeal to alphers&39; preferences, so this presents a market opportunity.

11. They trade binge-watching for cringe-watching.Remember how you spent all weekend watching the latest season of "Fargo" or "House of Cards" because you couldn&39;t wait to see what happened next? Then you&39;re clearly not an alpher. Instead, older alphers expressing their media preferences want to experience the last thing they watched over and over and over. This applies to music, too. No matter how much you love Adele&39;s "Hello," playing it 500 times in a row is the kind of torture the military would inflict on a modern-day Noriega. And alphers inflict this punishment on their caregivers every single day.

12. They live in the moment. They have little sense of the past and no concept of the future. They want everything now. Goodbye, YOLO ("you only live once") and FOMO ("fear of missing out"); hello, NOTOMO ("no tomorrow") and GITMOE ("give it to me — or else").

13. They&39;re constantly changing. It&39;s hard enough targeting this cohort, given the differences between leading and trailing alphers. What&39;s worse is that they&39;re changing all the time. By the time you complete a creative brief, they&39;re exhibiting new behaviors. This is proving so daunting that some brands, such as those in the spirits category, plan to wait two decades to even try to reach them. That may sound extreme, but alphers have a way of vexing even the most seasoned marketers.

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