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


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