Generation Alpha: Mark McCrindle Q & A with the New York Times

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Q. So what comes after Generation Z - and how were they named?

When I was researching my book The ABC of XYZ: Understanding the Global Generations (published in 2009) it became apparent that a new generation was about to commence and there was no name for them. So I conducted a survey (we’re researchers after all) to find out what people think the generation after Z should be called and while many names emerged, and Generation A was the most mentioned, Generation Alpha got some mentions too and so I settled on that for the title of the chapter Beyond Z: Meet Generation Alpha. It just made sense as it is in keeping with scientific nomenclature of using the Greek alphabet in lieu of the Latin and it didn’t make sense to go back to A, after all they are the first generation wholly born in the 21st Century and so they are the start of something new not a return to the old.

Q. Will these generational labels survive the test of time?

I have found from my generational research that generic labels rather than descriptive ones are likely to last. Names like the Baby Boomers, which describe a unique demographic phenomenon at the birth of a generation, or even Millennials, based on the timing when the leading edge were coming of age, are aberrations. A label like Gen X, Gen Z and Gen Alpha provide a blank canvas on which a generation can create their own identity rather than have a descriptive label, relevant for just a segment of the cohort or for a period of time, pinned on them. And while some Gen Xers bemoan that label, for a while there it was “slackers” and “baby busters”, and labels like “latch key kids” and “the MTV generation” as they were also called seem ridiculous for this generation turning 50 this year. Similarly for the Millennials or Gen Y- labels like “the dot com kids” and “the iPod generation” are short-sighted.

Read Mark’s interview in The New York Times here.

Q. Are companies and marketers already starting to focus on this demographic?

There are more than 2.5 million Gen Alphas born globally every week. When they have all been born (2025) they will number almost 2 billion. They start school next year and will be the most formally educated generation ever, the most technology supplied generation ever, and globally the wealthiest generation ever. They will comprise the largest generation of middle class consumers our world has ever seen and they are also “upagers” – older younger and influencing parental purchasing earlier and so it is no surprise that marketers are trying to better understand and prepare for this generation.

Q. How do you try to gather intelligence about a group of people this young?

We can learn a fair bit about them by analysing some key area starting with the demographics which gives us some forward forecasts: age of parents (older), cultural mix (more diverse), socioeconomics (slightly wealthier), family size (smaller), life expectancy (longer). Then there is the research of their parents, the Millennials (or Generation Y) which gives us a sense of how they will be raised (moving more frequently, career changing, materially endowed, technologically supplied, outsourcing aspects of parenting such as child care etc). Finally there is the analysis of the youngsters themselves and their formative years and we can learn a lot from this too (app-based play, increased screen time, shorter attention spans, digital literacy but less social formation etc).

Q. Technology was obviously a defining factor for Generation Y and has been even more so for Generation Z. How much more tech-intensive can the lives of Generation Alpha possibly become and what might be the consequences?

Generation Alpha are part of an unintentional global experiment where screens are placed in front of them from the youngest age as pacifiers, entertainers and educational aids. This great screenage in which we are all living has bigger impacts on the generation exposed to such screen saturation during their formative years. They began being born in 2010, the year the iPad was launched, Instagram was created and App was the word of the year and so have been raised as screenagers to a greater extent than the fixed screens of the past could facilitate. For this reason we also call them Generation Glass because the glass that they interact on now and will wear on their wrist, as glasses on their face, that will be on the Head Up Display of the car they learn to drive on, or the interactive school desk where they learn will transform how they work, shop, learn, connect and play. We were raised in a world where glass was something you looked through but for them it is something you look at. For us it was “hands off the glass” but for this kinaesthetic generation, glass is a hands on medium. Not since Gutenberg transformed the utility of paper with his printing press in the 15th Century has a medium been so transformed for learning and communication purposes as glass- and it has happened in the lifetime of Generation Alpha.

Read Mark’s interview in The New York Times here.

What are some other social factors, beyond technology that seem likely to shape the Generation Alpha identity?

They are upagers in many ways: physical maturity is on setting earlier so adolescence for them will begin earlier- but beyond the physical, social, psychological, educational, commercial sophistication begins earlier- which can have negative as well as positive consequences. Interestingly for them while adolescence begins earlier, it extends later. The adult life stage, once measured by marriage, children, mortgage and career is being pushed back. This generation will stay in education longer, start their earning years later and so stay at home with their parents later than was previously the case. The role of parents therefore spans a longer age range- often still with the adult kids at home even into their late 20’s. This generation will no doubt stay with this trend and in Australia we’ve labelled the stay at home 20-somethings the KIPPERS which stands for Kids In Parents’ Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings!

What comes after Generation Alpha?

Generational definitions are most useful when they span a set age range and so allow meaningful comparisons across generations. That is why we define the generations by the following years of birth:

Baby Boomers: 1946-1964

Generation X: 1965-1979

Generation Y (Millennials) 1980-1994

Generation Z: 1995-2009

Generation Alpha: 2010-2024

And so it follows that Generation Beta will be 2025-2039.

If the nomenclature sticks then we will afterwards have Generation Gamma and Generation Delta etc but we won’t be getting there until the second half of the 21st Century so there is plenty of time to reflect on the labels!

Read Mark’s interview in The New York Times here.


Mark McCrindle is an award-winning social researcher, best-selling author, TedX speaker and influential thought leader, and is regularly commissioned to deliver strategy and advice to the boards and executive committees of some of Australia’s leading organisations.

Mark’s understanding of the key social trends as well as his engaging communication style places him in high demand in the press, on radio and on television shows, such as Sunrise, Today, The Morning Show, ABC News 24 and A Current Affair.

His research firm counts amongst its clients more than 100 of Australia’s largest companies and his highly valued reports and infographics have developed his regard as a data scientist, demographer, futurist and social commentator.

Welcome to our blog...

We have a passion for research that tells a story, that can be presented visually, that brings about change and improves organisations. And we hope these resources help you know the times.

Our Social Media Sites

Facebook | McCrindle Research Social Media YouTube | McCrindle Research Social Media Twitter | McCrindle Research Social Media Flickr | McCrindle Research Social Media Pinterest | McCrindle Research Social Media Google Plus | McCrindle Research Social Media LinkedIn | McCrindle Research Social Media Mark McCrindle Slideshare

Last 150 Articles


belief group session mythbusters challenge brand experience social issues collaboration twentyseventeen Melbourne millionth pyrmont cartodb finance participants Wodonga leader princess charlotte social change owning a home household cars aged care blaxland grave decision eliane miles mover and shaker home ownership Northern Beaches sports shopping sector faux-ciliser litter James Ward teaching daily commute 24,000,000 hornsby narcissism financial independence wages geomapping property 1980 Mark McCrindle environmental scanning office opening careers father's day lifestyle faux-cilising marriages System's Architect 2016 census results stay home hopes the average aussie Caregiver schools students workplace insights generational trends trends of 2017 social city students REIV Conference society generations environment presentations baby average aussie daily telegraph young australians The Daily Edition results future-proof social impact English christmas education ferry social research communities marriage Scouts government communications overcast real dare to dream hobart keynote speaker social researchers food work change Australian Census social lives shifts personalities cooking not for profit consumerism future professional development optus event seasons cold meals Australian Dream Tuesday Trends sector wide study presentation facts national wealth trends of 2016 world youth day high density apartments statistics 1968 alpha cancelling event workshop budget qualitative research VIC 24 million baby names report buildings marrickville focus groups moreton bay mining boom events christianity The ABC of XYZ New Zealand crime woolworths waverton life Queensland: QLD meetings shopper's pick holidays suburb Aussie 1975 acf15 insight consumer population tv research cultural diversity townhouses baby name Tuesday Trend Crime Rates Valentine’s Day pharmacy mccrindle economy shbc organisational culture new office NBRS Architecture trend moderators guide church professional entrepreneur community networking domestic "know the times" mccrindle in the media perth greatness 2017 schools slideshare sydney speaker property market clothing NT goals Northern beaches Event transport 2020 gen z australia infographic Netflix future of work optus my business awards middle class deloitte housing Australian Communities Trends Geoff Brailey investor educhat 1994 rent proactive award winner nfp equip the australian dream stats online shopping Aussies baby names property price list going out social media video Australian Bureau of Statistics weekly earnings employment rise of local the hills shire divorce community engagement case study poker master 40 million storytelling christian Gen X conference presentation families tuesday optimistic entrepreneurs of today unaffordable rental stress January 26th earnings Northern Beaches Christian School baby name trends balance public holiday social commentary training demographic trends travel collaborative baby name predictions growth graphs fears hello fresh teachers socialites jobs housing trends Financial Planning Association mother's day wellbeing communicate earning Skilling TDE royal family unemployment land of the middle class builders living NBRS criminal Wellington IT Specialists intern Research Executive Deaths mccrindle tea Vocational education FOMO Merry Christmas media commentary states housing affordability sustainable researcher not-for-profit fresh royal baby product rule keeper research report recap JOMO 2016 census low density learner workforce award Generation Y vegemite entrepreneurial affordability Australian schools curiosity summer faux-cilise FPA debate megatrends financial etiquette house sydney hills Bathburst data analyst sydney metro Hornsby Shire Council cash wedding plans education sector housing market social commentator 23 million cancelling plans education research research data staff spirituality Births World Water Day area australian social research financial dreams conferences Word Up gold coast outsourcing engage post rationalism McCrindle Speakers baby names australia report workplace culture selfie local communities energy Australian communities neutral bay local retirement school paying to work urban investing research services innovation Generation X global generations Sydney keynote speaker non profit panel population milestone professional services Engineering Manager state aged care puzzle study futurist university student visualisation culturally diverse Australian Trends SA urban living index ACF 2016 ageing population research visualisation omnibus coffee Real Estate high density living travelling lalor park priorities changing face of sydney apartment households potts point experience Hills Shire Council investment research pack Wagga Wagga socialising huffington post Christchurch forum cost teleworking marketing ACT South Australia house price data visualisation SMART Channel Seven ethnography wealth and income distribution dessert keynote business performance survey Tasmania in depth interviews public speaking EFF bureau emerging trends cloudy days small business educated car sunny days renting thought leadership parenting millennials wage baby boom eliane technology millenials increasing densification quote census 2016 weather Canberra business index Adelaide menai capital city demographer learn offenders tableau Australian Families Western Australia VET demographics wealth distribution work mates Education Future Forum child care forecasting sydneysiders vegetarian norwest crows nest renter of the future employers VET sector victoria logan brand urban living growing population demographic youth tattoos personal growth 10 years poor population map REIV National Conference suburbs faith resource career religion HSC national crime rates click global Sydney pharmacies WA Australia Day safe DESTEL sentiments train wolloomooloo Do It Yourself public speaker cost of living future proof NEETs relational define newspaper authenticity social researcher ultimo commute focus group group sydney event report world survey design skills royal Kirsten Brewer women friendship media activity resilience residents school satisfaction Australian Home rich youth unemployment aussie culture debt home holiday the changing face of annual income sydneycity village young people bondi generation alpha identity social analysis Sydney Hills Business Chamber Australian demographics university degree internships Australians celebration New Zeland tips wealth australians staying home more men future proofing spend emerging technologies media release trades financial fears TAS emerging generations mythbusting year 12 Christmas presents long weekend winter home owner australian communities trends report Christmas season interactive salary teacher digital politics social life mccrindle research 2014 #censusfail census results wealth and income GPO anzac kate middleton SMSF language goal volunteers mateship typical australian medicine program house price rise data social enquiry speakers Myth customer Andrew Duffin dreaming responsive New South Wales 2016 entertainment mentor charity community event learning analysis census fail 2015 ease of travel social trends 2012 snapshot follow prince george social shifts know the times supply and demand generation contiki brands dream Kiwi Duchess of Cambridge trends innovative market research Christmas lunch population growth children generation Z baby boomers PSI work-life mortgage story grandparents society trends family national private wealth ashley fell leadership workshop breakfast hills shire Love engagement happiness year 7 urban taskforce NSW ipswich sector wide ABS economic friends Social Trend high density couple income sunburnt country capital cities earn forecast Australian Population demographic transformations ACF suburban living motivate trends analyst toys ideas Northern Territory staying in new york times conference speaker communication news commuters tea rising house prices google for education gen alpha Population Clock darwin manly thrive winter blues professional speaker high school Financial Planning Week publication google internet financial future royal influence trend tuesday Gen Y online global financial crisis mobile cancel plans in the media easter sun teach divorce rate house prices school students the hills internship leadership Res Vis conference business office space rain February 16 Australia Day 2017 office culture future of education Channel 7 housing growth ashley mckenzie education future DIY Assistant Store Manager brisbane education future report Real Estate Institute of Victoria parents australian communities forum Charlotte visual Macquarie University Queensland tertiary education repayments bus media gender census learning styles 2013 infographic wall healthy future relevant monarchy easy rider Territory Financial Planning Association of Australia organisations ageing CBD jobs of the future Royals Work place affordable names water