The Next Big Thing: Generation Alpha
Alpha Olympia is launching Crush, which is a line of health and beauty products aimed at Generation Alpha, who are 7 to 14 years old and have distinct behavioral attributes that set them apart from other generational cohorts. For example, being born as totally digital natives, the world of Alphas is virtual and about gaming.
Here, Cynthia Kuper, Ph.D., the chief executive officer of Alpha Olympia, discusses Generation Alpha, their traits, and how Crush plans to meet their demand.
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WWD: Who is Generation Alpha?
Cynthia Kuper: They are our youngest generation and the largest generation in modern history. Generation Alpha is comprised of children born from 2010 to 2024. There are over 2.7 million Alphas born each week. In the next year, when they are finished populating, they will comprise over 25 percent of the global population. They outnumbered the Baby Boomer generation a couple of years ago.
Generation Alpha is highly unique, and there are several reasons why:
1. They are global and globally consistent in their patterns of socialization and consumerism. If we are looking at the Pacific Rim or the Americas, we see the same habits in an Alpha.
2. Generation Alpha is the first completely digitally native generation, as they started being born in 2010, the same year the iPad was introduced. This has greatly influenced their behaviors and homogeneity in their global society.
3. They live online, most often in a video game as opposed to the web. They are least likely to buy on a website in the future and most likely to buy in a game.
Their size in numbers and globally consistent behaviors make them the most significant generation in the world. It becomes easy to reach a global audience at once if you find them in the right place — most often, a video game and usually a video game on Roblox. They have an average allowance of $9 per week in the states alone and have spending autonomy due to embedded pay apps in devices and gift cards. Now that the oldest Alphas are turning teenage, they will have employment income and use of a debit card. The business case here becomes very clear very fast.
WWD: What are some of Generation Alpha’s behavioral attributes?
C.K.: Alphas are incredibly social. They have learned a new dimension of socialization, virtual socialization, as well as traditional social skills. They live in virtual worlds yet still make time to play outside and generally form groups of several friends very easily. They are industrious and resourceful. If an alpha doesn’t get what they want out of a product, they just might search YouTube on how to make it themselves.
WWD: And what do they expect from beauty brands?
C.K.: Our understanding of this generation is that they demand quality, period, whether in face care or devices. They are discerning users of products, gaining a large amount of worldwide shared experiences from content on YouTube, TikTok and Snap. It is there that an Alpha can gain knowledge over a large swath of shared experiences due to the short duration of posts on these social media outlets, which are important mainstays in their young lives.
Our research in personal care tells us that this generation is the largest generation with the single largest interest in personal care. They are a tidal wave of new users in this industry coming at us faster than we might like, as it takes time to prepare for them.
It is of utmost importance to give them what they want, how they want it, and when they want it. If not, their attention is lost, and they are moving on. For this reason, we have launched a technology development side to our personal care brand, focused on creating gaming environments to do exactly that. We create sandbox video games with the goal of understanding generation alpha and providing for them in personal care. To us, a video game is a personal care product as well.
WWD: What was the impetus behind launching your product? And how does it meet the demands of Generation Alpha?
C.K.: Observation. I am a scientist, so it’s my natural and trained instinct to observe. I am surrounded by Alphas in my family and have spent years observing them. I saw a need and a lack of supply for that need. The need was communication and product supply in personal care. I saw they had terrible skin, no knowledge of what to do about it, and zero quality products in the market specifically targeted for them. So, I launched Crush, a brand direct to Alpha in personal care. Our products are formulated specifically for the skin care needs of their generation, and Alpha Olympia, our technology company, builds virtual environments to reach them and ways to observe them.
WWD: Why did you choose personal care as a category to launch it?
C.K.: I chose this area to launch the company due to the problem, lack of solution, coupled with a very strong interest in personal care, some of the largest interest the industry has ever seen.
I chose a video game to reach them in this category because, firstly, we had to reach them, and this is the best way; secondly, personal care is perfect for an immersive sandbox-type game. We are an experiential care brand; nothing is more experiential than a sandbox virtual world. This virtual world is a great place to build community, messaging and brand values. It’s a perfect fit.
WWD: How would you describe the brand’s attributes? And what is its mission statement?
C.K.: Our brand attributes are easy to describe because it is on our packaging — so no one can ever forget them. It’s a bit of a mantra we have for generation Alpha: “Win. Build. Overcome. Triumph. Empower. Set Free.”
This runs as a ticker on the packaging. It was very important to us to impart strong positive messaging to this generation, who are now still children. The self-esteem of a developing child is one of the most crucial elements in life, second to nutrition. My mother was an early childhood education specialist, and we used to discuss this all the time; it really stuck with me.
We translate positive behavior and messaging in our video game. For instance, the mirrors in the gymnasium bathroom say, “you are beautiful” our in-game currency is won through positive behavior such as recycling, getting a job at the café, etc.
Our mission as a brand is to teach good behaviors starting at a young age. This includes everything from how to take care of your skin and good hygiene, to positive self-talk and positive life behaviors, such as getting a job and recycling waste in the community.
Our corporate mission statements on both sides of the businesses here, Alpha Olympia and Crush are:
Learn, don’t teach. We are here to observe generation alpha. If we are teaching to them, we can’t listen. Our goal is to deliver to them what they want and how they want it, when and so forth, so listening is crucial. We are here for them to teach us.
Speak directly to the Alpha. Respect and empowerment are very important here; speaking directly to the Alpha, and never speaking down to them because they are young are key. Respect is a two-way street in any relationship. We respect them; we hope they respect the brand. When they use our products, it fulfills that cycle and hopefully becomes a chain of self-respect, underscoring that taking care of yourself is a pillar of their young lives.
Build a barrier to adolescence. By reaching them young and directing them toward good hygiene with high-quality products, custom formulated for their needs, we strive to prevent blemishes, acne and eczema. It is known that skin problems cause psychological trauma in adolescence. We help them build this barrier to adolescent trauma. Their experience doesn’t have to be the one we had growing up, and we are working to change this for the better.
Gender Neutral. Our brand is gender-neutral. This is extremely important. What gender neutrality means is that products, experiences, and the like are all shared between genders. Gender neutrality is about being inclusive. For instance, it is in line with saying girls can play sports previously reserved for boys, like soccer. This statement seems antiquated, but when I grew up, girls didn’t play soccer for the sole reason that we were girls. Inclusion is very important to Alphas. Girls and boys play video games, often the same video games.
WWD: Can you explain the platform side of the business? How does it work?
C.K.: Currently, we use the Roblox gaming platform. We have a gaming studio dedicated to programming games on this platform. Thus far, we have been able to create an analytic dashboard that tracks the avatar’s in-game behavior. We look for data that gives us information on their social habits, decision points like how far to walk around our world, and color choices as an example. Our ability to observe and capture data in the game gives a 360-degree view of the player persona, which we directly correlate to the buyer persona. To us, the avatar and the person are the same.
We are investigating building our own gaming platform for future development.
WWD: Anything else readers need to know?
C.K.: Our team is comprised of industry executive veterans with long-spanning careers in large personal conglomerates such as the Estée Lauder companies and LVMH beauty brands, as well the globally renown demographer Mark McCrindle of the McCrindle Group, credited with naming generation Alpha, to our gaming studio partnerships with leading programming institutes and developers. Our executive team all have Alphas in their lives. Our mission is personal and passionate.
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