Gen Alpha will have a big impact on society and the sports industry. We discuss their characteristics and how the sports industry may respond.
In a recent blog I discussed Generation Z, a generation that will have a huge impact on the sports industry. GenZ is currently entering the labour market and is starting to spend money. Some sports organizations are prepared for the changes this generation will cause, most of them have not! They better hurry up as another generation, called Gen Alpha, is growing up right now. This generation will have an even bigger impact on society and will neglect organizations that are not implementing the changes they want.
In this blog, we will briefly discuss Generation Alpha, its characteristics, several trends to be expected in the sports industry and strategies on how to prepare.
Also interesting to read: How Gen Z will change the world of sports
Table of Contents
Gen Alpha, some figures
Generation Alpha, nicknamed as the “screenagers” or the “glass generation” is the cohort born from 2010 onwards. There are currently 2,5 mln Alphas born every day according to McCrindle. It means that in 2025 there are a total of an astonishing 2 bln Alphas on the planet, which will soon after that year start spending big bucks! By 2030, they will represent 11% of the workforce and combined with GenZ even 45%. That’s just 10 years away! Some of the traits GenZ has, will even be more prominent within Gen Alpha. Better be prepared!
Who are these Alpha kids?
So, what’s so special about this new generation? You may think you are pretty much in control right now, but you’d better be cautious not to lose it, because these kids will take over likely sooner than later! Let’s briefly explore some of their main characteristics.
Gen Alpha: tech, tech and even more tech!
This generation is eating, sleeping and breathing tech. Their nickname is “the glass generation” or “the Screenagers”, which sounds like a good Netflix series by the way. They are the first individuals where technology is fully ingrained in their lifes from their birth onwards. May I remind you that the I-pad and Instagram are not that long with us. They were introduced in 2010 (the same year when app was the word of the year), the year when the first Gen Alphas were born. It means that this generation has been brought up since birth with Ipads, mobile phones, interactive glasses and glass watches.
They are totally comfortable with these tools as they have seen their parents using it. This is why they are called Generation Glass by the way. They are more familiar with swiping than anybody else. Moreover, as many of their parents have divorced, their Ipad has been a good surrogate for a nanny or tutor. They are completely at ease with the Alexas of this world! They know how to learn things with technology and are totally happy in doing so. They will talk as easily with AI engineered robots as with people, because they are used to it. In fact, as singularity is near, they even might start trusting the input of technology over that of people.
Also interesting to read: 10 great technologies that will change sports
Gen Alpha will be the most culturally diverse generation
With birthrates being higher amongst ethnic minorities, it’s likely that this will be the most ethnically diverse generation so far. Race, gender, minorities, beliefs etc will become less of an issue than before as this generation believes in equality.
Generation Alpha is visually oriented
From their birth onwards, Generation Alpha learns by watching. Visuals and video is how they get their info and hence they prefer communication through images and voice control over typing and texting.
Gen Alpha will have more spare time compared to other generations
This generation will have more spare time than any generation before. Think about it! They can work from home, they can shop online, they won’t have to steer their cars in the future. That leaves plenty of time for their computers and online activities.
Gen Alpha will be better educated than ever before
Education is what will matter most. Knowledge and information will become ever more important. Education will be customized and personalized, whilst lifelong learning will be essential in order to acquire new necessary skills required for new jobs. Innovation will be essential. Gen alpha will learn longer and start working later
Gen Alpha will change jobs frequently and will be mobile and global
Generation Alpha will move jobs far more easily than ever before. 18 jobs spread over 6 different careers will be no exception. In fact most of these jobs are not existing as of yet. It means specialisation, niche and continuous education! As technology is their first and second name, location does not matter. They can do their jobs everywhere in the world and will be genuine global citizens.
Gen Alpha will have an even shorter attention span than GenZ
This generation wants instant gratification. Whereas the attention span of GenZ is about 8 seconds, it will be even shorter for Gen Alpha as they recognize from far what the content of a message is. This is why communication with them should be authentic, honest and fair! Moreover, content should be interesting! If not, they will immediately switch to something else
Generation Alpha cares about planet and health
Sustainability is key! Recycling and leaving no footprint is important to Gen Alpha as this is their lifeline as long as the moon and Mars offer no viable alternatives. Simultaneously being healthy will have their full attention. Mental and emotional health will become increasingly important for these screenagers. Motoric skills (except hand eye coordination) might deteriorate as in their childhood they are spending more time behind their screens than they are playing outside. At a later age they might want to compensate for this lack.
Also interesting to read: Sports going green
Gen Alpha will have a big impact on sports in the future
Well, you might say, how will this all translate into sports into the future? Of course, I am not clairvoyant but I could easily see several trends emerge in the future.
Technology will be the name of the game!
This is a no-brainer. If one thing will be important in the future, it will be technology. GenZ and Gen Alpha cannot do without. It means huge investments are and will be made in order to satisfy their needs. If you are not prepared to invest in it, you will be out! Robotics, chatbots, Augmented and Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, the Blockchain, drones etc! These are just a few examples. Remember, It’s generation Glass we are talking about! Whether being a fan, viewer, buyer, sports traveller, businessman or athlete, a Gen Alpha wants to have state of the art technology.
Learning and teaching new sports will take a huge turn
Generation Alpha will be used to learn on-line. With the combination of Artificial Intelligence, robotics and Augmented Reality sports training will change, certainly in the case of individual sports. Teaching (sports related) skills will increasingly be done by algoritm related technology, which will know your individual skills better than a human teacher would. Tennis and golf pro’s and many other sporting pro’s, it may still take some time, but there will be huge changes in store for you.
Traditional sports are boring! Alternative-, adventure- and e-sports rock!
Traditional sports are becoming less popular as Gen Alpha is less into it. These sports are often considered as boring, taking up too much of their time and for older generations. Youth partcipation rates in many traditional sports such as football, soccer, golf, baseball etc are showing a steady decline. Non traditional sports are winning. Similar to GenZ having fun is more important than win! That’s the mantra!
In their minds a sport has to be social and can even be non-physical. Non-physical? Huh?! They believe sport has a much broader definition. It is an activity which requires a certain skillset that can be acquired by practice. Alternative sports, spin-off sports, e-sports and virtual reality sports tick their boxes.
Also interesting to read: new formats in traditional sports: winners and losers
E-sports will continue to grow
Similar to their GenZ counterparts, Gen Alpha likes games and considers E-sports as a real sport. Mental skills are as important as physical skills is their view(see above).
Also interesting to read: 10 awesome reasons why e-sports will take off this decade
Sportification and gamification will gain traction
Sportifying existing e-games with the help of Virtual Reality will result in new sports with E-athletes becoming more important. Look for example at the sport Hado. It’s new and exciting. But be not surprised if you become an active player/athlete in your own favorite game. A VR headset and gun is required and an empty hall and off you go. Or what about totally new sports such as Hado. It’s new and exciting!Additionally traditional sports have to introduce alternative games into their offering. Gamification will become more important. It does not only help athletes to become better, it also makes it quite often a lot more fun.
Also interesting to read: 9 powerful reasons why gamification matters a lot
Soft mental sports becoming more important
For Gen Alpha mindfulness, meditation and other practices such as yoga based on well-being are considered as essential to survival in the digital world,’’ according to WGSN. It’s gonna be part of their daily routine and fitness chains will slowly put more and more emphasis on offering services in these fields. Think about mindful spinning etc.
Gen Alpha will adventure into several sports during lifetime
Instant gratification and fun remember. A sport should fit into these categories. If Gen Alpha is no longer learning or having fun, he or she will choose an alternative route by doing something else. It will be a huge challenge to keep this generation interested for long.
Sports increasingly becoming global
Gen Alpha is the global generation. They like to do their sports 24/7 anywhere in the world. With technology this can be offered. You can just do it at home! But also expect global chains to emerge cooperating in offering services. It will be just like a subscription or loyalty service where you have access to sports facilities and sports whereever in the world. When traveling, no sweat!
Engagement essential for all sports related businesses
Increased digital consumption is here to stay and this also applies to sports. Whether you are an amateur or professional club, a federation, or league, a top athlete or a fan, a sports retailer, manufacturer or travel agent, digital and direct engagement is one of the few ways to connect. Moreover, the message will be all important as attention span is low.
Sports manufacturing and retailing continue to see ongoing shift from bricks to clicks
Direct engagement with the consumer will be essential. Gen Alpha will value the brands which talk authentically to them, they won’t trust those that don’t, and will never do so in the future.
Also interesting to read: 10 important future trends in sports retailing
Sports will go green
Leaving a footprint will be a no go. That’s precisely the reason why you see obvious sports such as Formula One and motorcycling making a turn. They won’t survive if they don’t. But they are not the only ones. Each and every sport will have to look at their offering. Whether it is a stadium, a shoe, waste, astroturf or whatever, recycling will become a huge issue as GenZ and Gen Alpha won’t accept anything else.
How should sports organizations respond to these challenges?
What will this all mean for the sports industry in the future? Well, a lot! If you are a sports club, a sports organization, a fitness chain, a sports travel agency or whatever, you better prepare and have a future strategy to accommodate this generation. Remember, technology, (self)education, diversity, a short attention span (instant gratification) and mobility are the key ingredients of Gen Alpha. Any future strategy should take these traits into consideration. So if you are in sports what kind of actions could you take?
1. Technology is key
Try to integrate technology into sports as much as possible. When we talk technology we mean AI, AR and VR, blockchain, robotics, drones etc. If you won’t integrate it into your sports, you will lose this generation. Better be prepared. It means gamifying and sportifying sports, it means training with the help of technology, it means information directly available to all etc.
2. Communicate with fans in an authentic way and connect
Gen Alpha likes to be talked to in an authentic transparent way and will smell it from a mile away if you don’t. Then you will be out for the rest of their lives. Interacting should be snappy and interesting and based on making a connection. Use it or lose it! Influencers, social media, visual content(!) should do the trick. And remember one thing! Be global because they are!
3. Be as flexible as you can!
Gen Alpha likes variety, travels a lot and has a short attention span. As explained, they will change jobs multiple times with ease. Sports is likely to be no different. In order to survive, you’d better be able to have a low fixed cost structure (outsource!) and be able to quickly adjust to the latest customer trends. It means innovation will be key! Don’t be afraid to change, they will expect it! Also try to build partnerships and have flexible membership structures. They will pay only for what they consume!
4. Be sustainable!
Remember, they are global citizens that care about the planet, more so than any generation before. It means you cannot afford not to prioritize this subject! They’ll know it right away and will drop you instantly (forever!)Don’t underestimate it! The Gen Alpha world is really different from today’s. Be cautious and employ young people who are understanding this generation. They will be better equipped to deal with these future challenges.