Cancel culture and pester power: Brands, meet the Alphas
Amy Garrett, Managing Director at Beano for Brands, thinks that with our future in the hands of Generation Alpha, brands need to get down with the kids.
2019 was a pivotal year for change. The world stood up for the environment, multinationals pledged to reduce plastics, and regulation intensified for the big tech firms.
Kids these days are a positive force to be reckoned with and... becoming the most powerful influencers in the home and the family.
The world is shifting and in 2020 young people will continue to fight for what’s right on issues like climate change, sustainability and the digital economy. They won’t tolerate brands that get it wrong, so it’s time to brace ourselves for a fresh wave of thinking.
The truth is, kids these days are a positive force to be reckoned with and they’re also becoming the most powerful influencers in the home and the family. But they’re not asking for more sweets, they’re asking for a better world, and are already taking steps to lead the way.
Above: Environmental activist, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg.
We’ve witnessed the ‘Greta effect’ of children protesting climate change in 2019, but they’re also responding to issues like single-use plastics and gender stereotypes. One in five under-nines – Generation Alpha, born after 2010 – have already been on a march for a cause they care about.
Gen Alpha’s awareness of the big issues of the day carries beyond the weekly ‘big shop’ (which 49% told us they influence) – in fact, 76% of the kids we asked told us they have a say in a range of family decisions such as choice of car through to holiday destinations.
Kids expect better and brands can no longer get away with lacklustre support for the planet.
And it’s not just Gen A that are ‘pestering’ for good – 40% of six to 14-year-olds on Beano.com felt it was their responsibility, rather than their parents' or teachers', to save the planet. Moreover 25% have encouraged their parents to switch to products that are better for the planet, and 21% had encouraged their parents to eat less meat.
If Gen Alpha feel a brand doesn’t live up to their morals, they cancel it from their favourites list and encourage their parents to do the same.
Kids expect better and brands can no longer get away with lacklustre support for the planet, especially when cancel culture is alive and well. If Gen Alpha feel a brand doesn’t live up to their morals, they cancel it from their favourites list and encourage their parents to do the same. These kids are inquisitive, moral and outspoken critics. We have seen evidence of this in their reactions to poor behaviour by the influencers they follow. And Gen Alpha’s differences to the generations before them don’t just apply to their moral compass; they’re visible in everything they do.
When it comes to all things tech, Gen Alpha are streets ahead of their digital native millennial parents. They are tech-empowered, not tech-obsessed; 86 per cent of these kids are using new technology to design, build, and make things. They’re creating video content, tinkering with electronics, and enjoying robotics and computer coding. Simply put, Gen Alpha are digital masters.
The new kids on the block are here, and they’re not going anywhere.
Over half of them believe they could make a career out of their hobby – 60% of their parents agree – and, amazingly, a fifth are already making money from extracurricular activities. With unfettered access to information, and a natural interest in this tech-empowered creativity, this will potentially be the generation which spawns the next wave of Elon Musks before they even leave school.
Gen Alpha has a new tech-enabled freedom... using screens to learn about how to enhance their interactions with the world around them.
But rather than being hooked to a screen in their bedrooms, Gen Alpha has a new tech-enabled freedom which empowers them to get out and about, channeling their natural curiosity and using screens to learn about how to enhance their interactions with the world around them. By 2030 there will be more than two billion Gen Alphas around the globe and, while they are already influencing their families, within a decade they won’t be children anymore – they’ll be integrated into the work force, contributing to the economy, and shaping the world directly.
It’s important for brands to shift their approach to include this younger demographic.
In the shorter term though, as we move into 2020, it’s important for brands to shift their approach to include this younger demographic. Marketing techniques or brand messaging that worked on millennials are unlikely to cut it for Gen A. It’s time for brands to look ahead – the new kids on the block are here, and they’re not going anywhere.