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


VET logan SA HSC quote high density living baby name predictions wealth and income distribution research data teach blaxland dreams 40 million digital demographic trends Melbourne entrepreneurs of today education research growing population sector wide university degree workplace culture online education sector conference presentation TEDx Speaker sydney metro anzac McCrindle Speakers university the australian dream educated storytelling office futurist young people domestic leadership Sydney keynote speaker Duchess of Cambridge generation alpha megatrends TAS new york times spirituality Andrew Duffin average aussie cultural diversity population map acf15 internship James Ward Australian Population land of the middle class wealth distribution SMSF donation Aussie learn residents cancelling event home ownership Love couple demographic transformations social research FPA generation product customer professional speaker charities jobs 2016 census results social trends hobart digital economy demographics Generation Y communications Black Friday Sales entrepreneurial office space the average aussie REIV National Conference population Northern beaches Event hills shire changing face of sydney Black Friday 24,000,000 states personalities volunteering not for profit growth Australia street vegemite unemployment cica ideas spend retirement skills ACT crime school VIC conferences census data Channel 7 affordable housing affordability education future mccrindle in the media relational data analyst royal family travelling facts Australia Day selfie nfp Jura Australia suburban living Performance Sentiment Index Australian communities The Daily Edition national wealth REIV Conference mccrinlde outsourcing micro Sydney Hills Business Chamber celebration greatness speakers forecasting vegetarian apartments year 12 2017 brisbane goal career conference speaker divorce rate learning styles royal australians staying home more cost 10 years earn communicate ageing population growth house prices public holiday panel australian social research house price Christmas presents stats 1968 divorce research visualisation thought leadership Real Estate staying in non profit ACF 2016 high school 2014 men economy future proofing housing growth nativity scene happy holidays youth collaboration younger generations google Christmas day weather 1980 poor Word Up Aussies darwin high density volunteering data NBRS Architecture renter of the future Australian Dream commuting DESTEL urban development US researcher demography deloitte list debate slideshare media activity Christmas research proactive future of work long weekend TED global generations brand typical australian omnibus professional presenters intern names statistics tips poker master Cobbitty-Leppington social issues travel easy rider living budget baby boom shopping global financial crisis focus groups baby names australia report results SRE professional Australian demographics christianity car fears rise of local recap 2016 families mccrindle analysis research report house Kiwi investing australia finance rain Geoff Brailey sydney speaker emerging trends royal baby parenting future increasing densification Sydney politics focus group environmental scanning menai equip food insecurity presentation Channel Seven millenials Western Australia ACF2017 kate middleton infographic internships grave decision going out WA the hills baby boomers national crime rates litter aged care puzzle builders world youth day aussie culture events census fail Kirsten Brewer not for profit research etiquette children friends contiki story research prince george Jura Coffee youth unemployment stay home program easter Sydney population demographic ACF research pack Caregiver cultural diveristy safe real affordability criminal cloudy days perth unaffordable monarchy sentiments tuesday speajer suburb households hills australian community trends report repayments cartodb owning a home social commentary Northern Beaches Christian School the hills shire annual income New South Wales purpose baby names Hills Shire Council Do It Yourself balance social commentator friendship brand experience chairty Financial Planning Week government Australians entertainment Christmas lunch January 26th visual Myth royal influence growth of sydney award winner meetings consumerism Australian Communities Trends marketing language organisations Macquarie University education baby name trends religion trends analyst national private wealth CBD offenders generational trends video JOMO interactive schools investor leadership workshop NBRS education future report networking the changing face of resource townhouses tertiary education data Netflix trends gold coast Scouts norwest ipswich Australian Bureau of Statistics ashley fell impact alpha money mateship commuters Research Executive mccrindle research financial fears choice workers census narcissism Christmas Stats earnings NFP event wellbeing ashley mckenzie visualisation Christmas season presentations February 16 potts point Northern Territory christmas 2017 city trends of 2016 census results investment follow learner woolworths Population Clock housing market social enquiry life data visualisation financial independence entrepreneur student school satisfaction donate ease of travel eliane miles business index McCrindle Keynote Speakers property price population milestone training christmas trees authenticity media English motivate school students tattoos social urban living collaborative Australian Home cold Tasmania australian real estate Births Christchurch micro apartments suburbs geomapping Work place mentor Northern Beaches sydney property market pyrmont local Gen Z Expert group Education Future Forum screenagers business volunteer not-for-profit Crime Rates participants the great screenage hunger food sunburnt country culture post rationalism healthy future EFF sydney market McCrindle Speaker seasons sydney hills work from home bondi gen alpha professional development media commentary public speaker teacher property market Wagga Wagga area Research Director educhat bureau summer year 7 public transport holiday mother's day future of education insight Sydney’s south west Australia Day 2017 rental stress sydneysider in depth interviews medicine leader waverton careers ACF17 society trends conference teleworking case study Real Estate Institute of Victoria supply and demand Wellington dream happiness tea Willowdale wealth relevant financial property development social analysis Gen Y office opening NEETs market research marriage live the dream paying to work family local community engage 23 million work mates employmer gig economy wealth inequality publication ageing population coffee lovers demographer clothing learning workplace Valentine’s Day thrive social impact mythbusting holidays daily commute social media Australian community trends teaching global employers Merry Christmas Res Vis census 2016 average Australian australian communities trends report research on coffee forecast energy Christmas data showreel sydneycity shbc employment communication 2013 24 million communities manly Royals financial planning aged care Christmas in Australia culturally diverse optimistic eliane SMART faux-cilise housing dare to dream survey design click casual child care rent bus mining boom food bank sustainable NSW Engineering Manager TEDx "know the times" workforce Sydney Lifestyle Study employmee social analyst christian google for education newspaper keynote speaker cash dessert social researcher marriages ACT Report urban living index baby gig winter blues TED talk community engagement community Black Friday in Australia technology news future-proof Australian Trends graphs mccrindle tea millennials Hunter Valley Charlotte Queensland: QLD moderators guide Financial Planning Association of Australia in the media McCridle group session screenage World Water Day work TDE research services internet cancelling plans staff Queensland financial future cars Vocational education princess charlotte Maxim Accounting global retail Mark McCrindle GPO work-life survey dreaming professional services future proof seasons greetings Australian schools mortgage ethnography mythbusters train responsive village New Zeland goals pharmacy forum salary house price rise future of shopping 2015 tableau media release Canberra father's day 1994 rule keeper society income cooking wages sports cancel plans neutral bay overcast Australian Census sydney event business performance qualitative research DIY lalor park 1975 twentyseventeen social lives generations curiosity The ABC of XYZ coffee Christmas day breakfast marrickville australian hello fresh trades wealth and income sector apartment Skilling optus care support shopping centre christmas faith wage the lucky country low density wedding speakers pack local communities jobs of the future report ultimo know the times 2012 australian communities forum resilience average sydneysider Australian Families urban taskforce social researchers crows nest Assistant Store Manager online shopping meals Lower Hunter Region Mark McCrindle in the media change hopes tv NT social shifts Financial Planning Association Hornsby Shire Council faux-ciliser teachers cost of living women trends of 2017 define identity trend shopper's pick CPI world ABS Mount Annan-Currant Hill Business analysis wolloomooloo emerging generations socialising water Bathburst personal growth priorities 2020 organisational culture Gen X experience new office moreton bay What is food insecurity? PSI Adelaide schools students Generation X volunteers workshop who is generation z belief housing trends System's Architect Tuesday Trends IT Specialists gender renting home owner Lower Hunter baby names report social life Retail sydneysiders faux-cilising infographics insights South Australia lifestyle millionth transport students middle class property 2016 census capital cities mover and shaker home fresh Territory optus my business awards mobile New Zealand sunny days engagement generation Z weekly earnings pharmacies rich weather small business economic state debt VET sector award Wodonga brands gen z environment winter snapshot Deaths capital city household trend tuesday huffington post toys giving young australians daily telegraph Tuesday Trend challenge #censusfail baby name plans Social Trend financial dreams buildings commute earning social change FOMO sun community event sector wide study infographic wall speaker grandparents hornsby emerging technologies consumer event innovative ferry rising house prices high density apartments public speaking shifts keynote socialites church parents urban charity study victoria innovation Elderslie-Harrington park