What Millennial parents and their Gen Alpha kids want from new content
Gen Alpha, those hot on the heels of Gen Z, are a rapidly growing audience representing today’s smallest citizens. We can’t conclude much about them just yet, given they are barely older than 8, and many of them are still learning to walk. But we can look at the context of their early years, at the challenges faced by their Millennial parents and the aspirations they have laid out, to make predictions about the types of stories, characters and styles of content that we think are going to fly with them over the next couple of years.
Over the next few years, we predict the dawning of a golden age of innovative preschool content. As the race continues to earn a slice of the household entertainment budget, those with a strong kids offer are going to increase their value perception and up their odds of making the cut.
We’ve curated a list of examples targeting kids aged 6 and under, which point to cultural energies relevant to Alpha kids and their Millennial parents. Each highlights a direction and opportunity we think is wide open for entertainment brands seeking to design and win big with today’s young families.
Progressive parent roles + true entertainment for both parent and child
Bluey, ABC Kids (Australia)
Bluey tells the story of a Blue Heeler stay-at-home Dad and his two young boys. It has been a smash hit in Australia, labelled as ‘progressive’ owing to the portrayal of Bluey, an aspirational father figure, worlds away from the bumbling ‘Daddy Pig’ character archetype who seems unable to complete the very simplest of parenting tasks.
Bluey uses observational humor, targeted at parents, to zoom in on the comical moments of what it can be like doing daily tasks like simply leaving the house when you have small children at home. It’s heavily written from a parent POV and prioritizes punchlines parents will love, but delivers them in a way that offers equal enjoyment for kids. The relationship between Bluey and his kids is a meld of being adorable, hilarious and aspirational, ticking all the Millennial parent goals.
This focus on making enjoyment levels completely equal between parents and kids is increasingly important to content success. Millennial parents want to be friends with their kids, dive into their worlds more deeply, and need content that puts them on the same level…yes even when their child is only 3!
Pablo, CBeebies (Global)
Pablo is the first autistic character on the kids’ screen who brings to life the concept of what it feels like to ‘see the world differently to others’. The show has authenticity baked into it, with actors and creators all on the spectrum and each episode based on a real experience from a real autistic child. The experiences of Pablo and his animal friends who represent Pablo’s unique emotions and behaviors is, as a result, seamlessly authentic. The viewing experience is one which really leans into empathy, as the viewer quite literally sees the world as Pablo does, and promotes the idea of embracing difference and looking from other perspectives.
This first-person view which enables children to see the world through different lenses chimes with the trend of developing softer skills like empathy. These human skills are considered by Millennial parents to be of high importance to their kids’ future success. We expect to see more ‘empathetic representation’ in content alongside a departure from age old archetypes which are becoming increasingly tiring and less appealing.
Intense suspense and drama
Baby Shark, Pinkfong (Global)
We realize Baby Shark may be an obvious and no longer new reference, potentially already reaching saturation point, but we’re spotting something very telling in its success that hints at newer emerging executional styles. The speed and intensity of Baby Shark, for a piece of audio-visual entertainment targeted at such young children, is seriously intense. Baby and preschool music and ditties are typically soft or formulaic and use classic verse-chorus structures. On the contrary, Baby Shark is a forceful onslaught of repetitive climaxes. This early exposure to instant gratification drama and climax is perhaps reflective of the ever growing uber filter of kids and the need to do something dramatic to cut through. Indeed, the fact that Nickelodeon is now set to release a Baby Shark TV show featuring the song’s characters speaks to its enduring appeal.
We think Baby Shark points to the dying out of old-skool toddler music and has paved the way for edgier, drama-filled audio-visual experiences that experiment with different formats, paces of information and editing styles.
Characterization of real people
Little People Big Dreams, Frances Lincoln Children’s Books (Europe)
Browse the bookshelves of any Gen Alpha who has an Instagram-loving parent and you’re more than likely to see nestled in there titles like Little People Big Dreams, Rebel Girls and Stories for Kids Who Dare to be Different. This genre has a similar format, taking real people from past or present history, characterizing them and turning their journeys and successes into inspiring narratives. Little People Big Dreams allows Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo and Marie Curie to line up on the bookshelf, stories which can all be reinforced with the same information, ‘this really happened, this was a real person’.
Real stories from real people who have overcome the odds and achieved extraordinary things are hot property right now. Combining a thirst for reality and authenticity with the desire to show kids what’s possible if you work hard and overcome challenges, we can’t see this trend going away anytime soon and expect to see the transition to kids’ screens at some point in the near future. Animated Frida anyone? We think so.
Encouraging curiosity vs. fact-learning
Ask the StoryBots, Netflix (Global)
Ask the StoryBots takes real questions from real kids and goes on a mission to answer them. Sounds like an educational science show doesn’t it? But it doesn’t feel like it. Delivered with punchy comedy and super immersive mixed media effects, it’s hard to pinpoint what the genre is and that’s why it feels so fresh. At the heart of StoryBots is the celebration of curiosity in childhood. But rather than taking an academic ‘here’s the science bit’ approach to the format, it instead weaves learning effortlessly into the story, ensuring fun and entertainment is at the forefront.
With mainstream awareness growing that curiosity is a cornerstone to developing creativity and problem-solving skills, we think that stories and characters leaning into the process of curiosity and the experience of where it takes you will appeal to parents seeking to bring creative learning into their kids’ worlds. This is a departure from ABCs and a step into experiences and processes for the sake of curiosity and creativity.
Intersectional stories and families
Luo Bao Bei, ABC Kids (Global)
Luo Bao Bei is a truly cross-cultural creation blending Chinese heritage with British humor and charm. It features a multi-generational and multi-ethnicity family, but to some extent that’s just part of the furniture. It doesn’t need to take the audience on a cultural lesson about diversity, it simply presents a mishmash of styles and traditions and the result is unique, helping to feed the surrealist elements of the show. The inclusion of grandparents in the family is significant; there is a real sense of teamwork to the dynamic and everyone is up for helping out or getting involved, and that feels very Alpha.
Whilst news of the diverse characters on screen feels like it keeps coming thick and fast, the perception is that the needle hasn’t moved fast or far enough in the preschool space. Parents (and kids) have already moved on from any kind of box-ticking exercise to put ‘a face of every color’ in every show, and instead want to see rich intersectional stories of diverse characters who exist not just to make up the diversity numbers, but because they have a story to tell beyond their skin color or gender.
Want to learn about how to win big with Gen Alpha and Millennial parents? Send us a brief or call Emma for a chat – Hello@thepineapplelounge.com // +44(0)20 7826 9903.