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Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

Marketers are pouring money into figuring out the tastes and habits of Generation Alpha — kids born from 2010 through 2024 — who are unprecedented in the extent they're growing up online.

Why it matters: They're weaned on TikTok, Amazon and in-app purchases. They're learning from their millennial parents to hold brands accountable for causes like social justice and sustainability. And no prior age cohort will be as large in size or marketing power.

Where it stands: While the oldest members of Generation Alpha are only 11, they already stand out from Gen Z in their worldliness, brand awareness and influence over household spending.

  • They're not just pre-consumers: Their sway and leverage over adults' purchasing decisions surpass any prior generation, market researchers say.
  • Most won't remember a world without COVID-19, an iPhone or the threat of environmental Armageddon.
  • "When they have all been born [2025], they will number almost 2 billion — the largest generation in the history of the world," according to Mark McCrindle, the Australian social analyst who coined the term "Generation Alpha."

It's no coincidence that Instagram and the iPad were introduced in 2010 —the year this generation was handed the torch — or that "app" was named word of that year.

  • "They are very sophisticated," McCrindle, the founder and principal of McCrindle Research in Sydney, tells Axios. "We can no longer design products for them and push the products at them. They want a seat at the table."
  • They're unusually visual in how they consume content, highly networked in how they socialize, and global in their outlook and perspective.
  • "They can send a trending hashtag, they can start a social media campaign and bring about change," says McCrindle, who published a book on Generation Alpha this year. "They’ve seen that in their own experience, in #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter."

The intrigue: Generation Alpha will grow up knowing that they don't need to be old enough to vote to influence the ballot box.

  • Creating mountain-moving hashtags and memes is second nature to them.
  • They'll be aware of influencers like the teen TikTokers who helped get President Biden elected and the youth organizers who targeted individual politicians and voter turnout campaigns in 2020.

Between the lines: Global marketing giants are already in awe of Generation Alpha's might, and using all their powers of social listening to tap into what they're thinking.

  • Brands like Mattel are "reading the writing on the wall and rolling out the welcome mat for Generation Alpha," per AdAge.
  • "Like their elders, they care about issues such as sustainability and social equality — but unlike previous generations, they have embraced activism from a very young age and expect brand change as a result."
  • While the group is still evolving — and some still haven't been born yet — "if current trends hold, Generation Alpha kids will be more racially and ethnically diverse than their Generation Z counterparts," says the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to children and families.
  • "Members of Generation Alpha will also be more likely to go to college, more likely to grow up in a single-parent household and more likely to be surrounded by college-educated adults," the foundation says.

What's next: Soon we'll be parsing the tastes of Generation Beta.

Go deeper

Movie theaters go out of style

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Vaccination rates are going up, people are going out to restaurants again — although the new COVID variant may get in the way — but they still aren't rushing back to the movies.

By the numbers: Some 49% of pre-pandemic moviegoers are no longer hitting theaters, according to a study from the film research company The Quorum, as reported by the New York Times.

3 hours ago - Health

Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles down

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

European countries are doubling down on pressure campaigns to get people vaccinated just as Republicans continue to wage war — often successfully — against vaccine mandates in the U.S.

Why it matters: The starkly different approaches create a sharp contrast between the regions' approaches to vaccination, even as the Omicron variant rapidly spreads around the world.

4 hours ago - World

Two years of COVID-19

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Axios Visuals

Two years ago Wednesday, the first case of a mysterious new respiratory disease was discovered in Wuhan, China. Now, the Omicron variant has deepened concerns about just how much longer the coronavirus pandemic will last.

The big picture: More than 5 million people have died since that first case. Most people on earth have lived through some form of lockdown. 54% of the global population has had at least one vaccination, though the shots have been distributed unevenly.

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