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


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