Move over Centennials… Generation Alpha is on the scene! Born starting in 2010 through today, they are the children of Millennials. While Generation Alpha makes up only 12.5% of the population today – and are only ten years old, they will continue to grow in numbers and impact over the coming years.
Believe it or not, the oldest Millennials turned 40 in 2019 and are the largest group of parents raising the next generation of youth. Millennials are starting their parenting journey with a deep self-understanding. They are more likely to believe that parents should live for themselves as much as for their children (these are the ones who made beer taps, scooters and midday ping-pong standards of office life). What does this mean for Gen Alpha? With older parents, Gen Alpha will likely experience more stable childhoods, both in terms of finances (depending on the future economy) and household dynamics. Gen Alpha parents will also continue to focus on their own careers, passions and self-care, passing down to Gen Alpha valuable lessons on how never to lose sight of your individuality.
Many of these parents are foodies that enjoy cooking. Therefore, they prioritize healthy food choices for their families and value teaching their kids about where food comes from, how it is prepared, and how it impacts the body. They are making choices that include:
Gen Alpha kids have also had early exposure to a variety of ethnic flavors, fruits and vegetables. And these parents have a high level of interest and control over what their kids eat. As a result, Gen Alpha will have increased expectations for variety and a greater propensity to try new flavor combinations, demanding more from every meal and menu.
Millennials have instilled a love of good food in this new generation of eaters, and a greater sense of adventure when it comes to new tastes and unfamiliar foods. Therefore, it is not surprising that restaurants have already picked up on this trend, with many kids’ menus beginning to resemble the adult menu. Even in food deserts, we see convenience stores and gas station shops starting to reflect trends such as increased demand for fresh fruits and more health-conscious choices (Average annual organic eating occasions per capita is highest among children up to age 9).
Visual appeal of food is more important to this generation of kids as well. They are growing up with Instagram and a cultural norm of posting photos of meals on social media – color, size, shape and texture are becoming increasingly important.
Concerned about childhood obesity and healthy eating, parents are packing farm-fresh lunches for elementary school—if the school does not have a garden of its own. Gone are the days of relying solely on your physical circle for advice. Facebook opened to the public in 2006, Pinterest was founded in 2009 and Instagram was founded in 2010 (just as Gen Alpha was first entering the world), and all serve as key tools of connection, influence and information for parents today and Gen Alpha themselves. The digital footprint of dining options will become increasingly important – from apps to delivery options to reviews to online menus.
Knowing that these youngsters will be shoppers and dining decision makers in eight quick years, how do you ready yourself for the new opportunities Gen Alpha brings?
Every generation brings with it new challenges and opportunities for the food marketer. With Generation Alpha, you can carry forward many of the strategies you’re using for their Millennial parents, but as always, expect some changes in the years to come.
Sources: Kantar 2020 Youth Outlook; Beyond Gen Z – Getting to Know Generation Alpha (May, 2019); Forbes, The Business of Feeding Health-Conscious Gen Z and Alpha Children, January 13, 2019; Food Business News, How Generations Affect Four Food Trends, April 2019