When Mattel unveiled its new cellophane-free “Nothin’ But Paper” Uno last year, the toy maker was clearly trying to appeal to consumers looking for more sustainable options that are better for the planet. Yet the target customers for the eco-friendly version of the classic card game aren’t just salary-earning adults—it’s also their environmentally-conscious children, a group that believes packaging matters and what’s on the outside—and the inside—both count when it comes to brands.
Marketers like Mattel are reading the writing on the wall and rolling out the welcome mat for Generation Alpha. Born beginning in 2010 through 2024 to millennial parents, Alpha kids are the group following Gen Z. 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. And while the pandemic has undoubtedly caused a shift in many consumer behaviors—including the rise in buying online, the demand for more flexible office arrangements and the need for better work-life balance—it’s the globe’s youngest consumers who will experience the most lasting repercussions from its toll.
“Millennial parents are much keener on their kids standing up and speaking out and will support them to do that, but also these kids have lived through this traumatic event—this pandemic, and what they’ve been able to see firsthand is they can make a difference,” says Helenor Gilmour, director of insight at Beano Studios, a youth-focused entertainment studio and creative agency. “They were asked to step up and protect their beloved elders—a lot of young people made sacrifices, we saw lots of many pieces of activism across the globe. I think they felt empowered in many ways and they felt part of it rather than children of it.”