Mark Kooyman
5 min readJul 29, 2023

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The Alpha Generation is Upstaging Generation Z as The Marketplace Skips a Generation Again

I am writing this from a coffee house in a college town that is off the mainstream traffic flow.

The Gen Z new freshmen at the University of Georgia are flooding in as Greek Week starts and classes start the next week.

Working off-site and out-of-town is partly due to the risks of driving on the road with the GenZers along with a Boomer desire to find an enclave of “normalcy.”

This blog post is about the limelight rapidly shifting next to the Alpha Generation and bypassing the GenZers, but before I expand on the trendscape in our midst, I have to highlight one of the records being set by GenZers.

Tattoos.

The limelight faded fast away from GenXers. Other than Restoration Hardware — RH — no major brands fueled campaigns to snag them and instead invest in this group of GenYers renamed as Millennials.

With nearly half of GenXers emerging into independence from divorced parents, GenXers focused around forming stable households to replace the trauma of their youth.

Maybe thanks to a limited presence of social media in their adolescence, GenXers placed less priority in claiming individual identity. Few peers competed to see who could get the most clicks on their Instagram, Snapshot or TikTok postings.

GenZers on the other hand, clamor for personal attention … an independence from their hovering Gen X parents who refuse to let go… now take the top spot among all Generational Groups living and breathing today in having a tattoo.

According to a story that posted in a May issue of USA Today back, nearly a third of GenZers (31%) have a tattoo!

And of the GenZers who do, more than half have as many as 3+!

I share this with readers because exactly what happened to the GenXers is now happening right before our eyes with GenZers.

Brand marketing, entertainment, house & home, retailers … are all bypassing the GenZers and focusing instead on Generation Alpha, the generation that the Millennials are creating!

The leading age of the Alpha Generation is now 8 years old.

Alpha kids are already in Elementary School along with their Millennial parents taking over the PTAs.

By the end of 2023, there will be over 40 million Alpha kids in the U.S. and by 2030, there will be 75 Million in total.

Nearly 50% more Alphas will be here in 2030 than GenZers.

Are the Alphas impacting the marketplace?

Just this past week, the shift made the news headlines with Barbie taking center stage.

Okay, the trailing edge of the GenZers is age 9 this year and there might be a few still clinging to their Barbie Dolls, but if they are, my bet is its short lived.

And if its a Gen Z boy focused on Barbie, that kid probably needs to be taken to the nearest Pride Parade.

The Barbie movie is setting new records with Millennial parents surging out in force.

HGTV has a new Sunday Night hit with designers creating the Barbie house, restaurants are rolling out Barbie kids meals, Verizon is rolling out a Barbie themed iPhone and Amazon is running digital ads for its Barbie wallpaper, bed linens and place settings.

There is even a TikTok sub-app link just to Barbie postings.

Another front page news story in this week’s Wall Street Journal featured Gap stealing away Mattel’s CEO to revamp and relaunch a retooled brand styled around Gap Kids stores.

Gap was one of the early cultural icons of the Millennial parents.

Barnes & Noble posted record sales with a corporate announcement this week that a new kids reading section will be rolled out in 2024.

That new section will take up a lot of the space allocated to magazines and newspapers.

Another article in Entrepreneur Magazine highlighted a rise in Indy Kids Bookstores.

An article in the New York Times showcased a new wave of fitness centers specifically designed for Millennial moms and their babies.

Millennials drove hotels, resorts and vacation destinations to revamp their rooms and convert the lobbies into coffee houses and co-working space.

Those hotels, resorts and vacation destinations are not going all out to create family gathering space with rooms complete with bunk beds and bathroom stools for the kids.

Speaking of coffee houses, many are rolling out board games, dominos and UNO playing cards at 6pm and all day Saturday and Sunday just for Millennial families.

Even Smoothie King is rolling out a new baby / kids drink with features vegetables and greek yogurt.

Baby changing stations are rolling out faster than electric automotive charging stations.

The focus is shifting away from the GenZers as many college campuses even begin laying off staff as the applications begin to decline.

Are all GenZers going to get tattoos and dye their hair green to stand out and claim identity?

No.

In fact, the other two-thirds of GenZers without the tattoos are strapped with headphones, smart phones and laptops living in a world removed form the Millennial-Alpha dominated real world around them.

Many GenZers have been forced by their parents to head off to college — a generation posting a record percentage seeking and planning to seek a college degree — only to find out that individuals securing a much less debt-burden trade degree are making higher salaries.

Will there be service groups and resources that will reach out to counsel GenZers as they too become passed over by brands?

Back twenty years ago, were there service groups and resources that reached out to their Gen X parents?

There was a rise in therapists, counselors and self-help anti-depression books

My strong counsel to the clients I advise is to get out from behind their laptops, venture out of their home offices and sign out of the Zoom meetings and go dwell with not just Millennial parents, but also their Alpha kids.

Just this past week, a CEO on a Chamber of Commerce discussion panel mentioned that the marketplace “is suffering from a decline in families in the U.S. that is forecasted to continue.”

After the panel concluded, I went up to the CEO and asked if they were still living in a cultural and market lock-down.

The CEO was surprised to learn that the highest level of babies delivered at any time in the U.S. took place in 4th quarter 2022.

Where will we see the next impact of Millennials and their Alpha kids?

Watch what evolves in the 2024 Election… but do the observation through other avenues than the broadcast news stations that are about as blind as many in Washington!

I will end this Blog Post by sharing a Barbie story that took place in this college town in which I now reside.

A person told me this morning that they encountered a group of guys dressed up in drag going to the premier of the Barbie movie and at first thought it was interesting to see guys dressed up as Barbie.

This person approached the guys and voiced support for diversity.

The Gen Z guys dressed in drag turned out to be new Freshmen going through Rush Week and it was part of their initiation at the Frat House.

Lord help Generation Z… tattoos, green hair, smart phones and all else as they, like their Generation X parents are left on the sidelines of the marketplace and brand launches.

If you want to learn more about more about how the marketplace is shifting to reach the Alphas, call me at 404.245.9378 and let’s meet!

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Mark Kooyman

CEO & Discovery Chief at EXPERIENCE Insight Group, Inc. In the business to discover and craft brand experiences that humans seek out and engage in.