Liquid Thinking

A Thirsty Generation

What Will Gen Alpha be Drinking?

13th September 2023

Gen Alpha – get to know them. They’re going to be very, very important. Born to Millennial parents, the term refers to children born from 2010 (co-incidentally, the year the iPad was launched) launched) with the oldest of them reaching their teen years this year.

What’s different about them? What defines them as a generation? Of course, they’re children of the digital age. These are kids who know how your brand new smart TVs work, and how to connect the new router, before you do. 2010 was coincidentally the year Instagram launched by the way. Gen Alpha has never known a world that isn’t hyper-connected.

Digital fatigue

So, these are inherently digital kids. But they’ve also lived through – and been severely impacted by – a pandemic, which saw schools closed and parents stay home. Perhaps it’s this, or just over-familiarity which means that the digital world actually holds slightly less appeal or hold over this generation than previous ones.

Zoom, e-books, apps; these have all become tools used by their schools to aid study, especially during the pandemic. In short, it’s no longer a novelty, and real-world experiences seem to matter ever more over the bombardment of activity the digital world can bring.  Lessons about moderating  their screen use and about safe internet use have been drummed into them from an early age. Don’t forget, this is a generation that have been acutely aware of the amount of time their parents spend glued to screens, too.

Data, as you’d expect is hard to come by for such a young cohort. But there are suggestions that Gen Alpha are less interested in watching TV, particularly films and movies, and instead are more focused on shorter YouTube content, and talking to friends online. The frenzied reaction to drinks such as Prime Hydration, launched by social media personalities Logan Paul and KSI tells you everything you need to know about who holds the cool factor in these kid’s eyes.

Mindfulness matters

And from better nutritional education at school to an acute awareness of the environment, Gen Alpha knows already that single-use plastic is bad and that sugar and fats should be consumed in moderation. Mindfulness is being taught in schools, healthy eating is being mandated in school lunches, and the parents of Gen Alpha are acutely health-conscious, shaping the consumption choices they make. Taking care of themselves is something this generation is already well versed on and has been built into their routines already.

With climate change dominating news and popular culture – led in no small part by contemporary figures such as Greta Thunberg – the need to take better care of the planet, and of an individual’s role in doing so, is a key concern too.

That’s perhaps no surprise as their predecessors, Gen Z’ers before them, are already massively engaged. Amnesty International conducted a study of 10,000 aged between eighteen and twenty-five and found that climate change was, according to them, the most important issue of our time. Coming second and third was pollution and terrorism. With information readily and freely available, the impact of climate change is daily visible.

And they’re also socially aware too. The concept of chosen pronouns, and the complexities of gender identity has been introduced to them from a young age. They are more education in self-identity, than perhaps any generation before.

Already making decisions

Now, parenting styles are an important thing to consider here too. With the intense amount of time parents and kids spent together during the pandemic, it’s fair to say that decision-making was perhaps a little more collaborative than ever before.

According to a study by Morning Consult, 30% of parents of Gen Alpha say that their kids are already actively involved in purchasing decisions. Furthermore, it says that 80% of Gen Alpha parents said their children often or sometimes request a specific snack or food brand.

So, what does any of this mean for the drinks market?

In short, Gen Alpha is already shaping drinks trends and making purchasing decisions. They recognise brands, recognise health trends, and in an information-heavy and choice-filled world, have already learned to make decisions on what they want to consume. Yes, a social media star in a funny hat and loud t-shirt might still well be able to peddle them anything, but there’s a foundation of knowledge here, or key concerns for brands to build upon.

Look, we don’t know exactly what these kids will be tuned into and want to buy as they enter their teen years. But, knowing everything we do about the world they’ve grown up in, we can guess. Fun and frivolity remains important. And so does clout. They may be a new generation, but a teenager is a teenager after all. Being seen with the right brands, from the right social media stars, is important.

But so too is caring for the world, and for others. Gen Alpha consumers are likely to be well versed on greenwashing by the time they come of age, and will have little tolerance for products that seem unnecessary or wasteful. Yet looking good in a social media connected world – even if its influence or place in the world may well shift in years to come – means aesthetics will continue to matter.

For an example of a product that miraculously seems to be already ticking all the boxes, step forward Air Up. Not merely a product according to its makers, oh no, this is a ‘drinking system’ that allows kids to fill a reusable bottle with tap water, and have it taste of a fruit they choose, not through taste, but by scent. A cynic would say they’re selling tap water. But this sensory experience has kids engaged, as they get to choose which scent pod – from cherry to cherry kola, there’s over 25 available – and parents get to save money with a reusable pack. It ticks eco boxes, it ticks health boxes, it’s sensory, and it’s fun too.

When it comes to Gen Alpha, and they’re growing influence on purchasing and products, brands need to stay alert to the causes that matter, and engage with them in an authentic way. Yet, fun and new experiences will always be important. Combine the two? Well, you’ve got yourselves a winner.

Interested in finding out more about what this might mean for you and your business?

Please contact us at hello@thecabinetagency.com or 0207 101 3933