From robot avatars to AI-powered football boots: Gen Alpha share visions for the future
In our latest research1, we heard from over 3,000 children aged 8-14 from across Europe about their visions and expectations for the future. We found that over three quarters (76%) of them aspire to either establish their own business, run a small enterprise, or pursue a 'side hustle', compared to only 13% who said they would prefer working for others. This is in stark contrast to the make-up of current European workforce, where just 18% of the working population work for themselves2.
If these expectations play out as the data suggests, Generation Alpha has the potential to completely transform how businesses and communities will operate in the next five to ten years.
A digitally empowered generation
Generation Alpha are as deeply connected in the online world as much as the real one – more so than any other generation – and this is influencing their financial understanding and attitudes towards earning. We found that artificial intelligence, digital experiences, and sustainability were all key factors in shaping their behaviours. Specifically:
- Over two-thirds (68%) of children throughout Europe have earned money in the last 12 months, with 40% of them using technology to do so. Social media (37%) emerged as the most popular tool for income generation.
- Over half (59%) of Gen A think that AI, virtual reality and smart assistants will be integral to their future jobs.
- Children are almost three times as likely to learn about earning money by watching digital content creators than traditional sources such as books (31% v 11%).
- ‘TikTokers’ and ‘YouTubers’ are leading the way as sources of inspiration, as social media and content creators emerge as most influential factors in stimulating ideas (51%), vs more conventional sources of inspiration such as drawing and writing (36%), reading (33%), and playing with toys (26%).
- Gen Alpha are powering the shift towards more environmentally conscious earning methods, as nearly a quarter of older children (12-14) are turning to online marketplaces (22%) to help them generate income.
What does the ‘ultimate convenience’ look like for Gen Alpha?
In a world where robots assist with household chores and AI understands human thoughts, the next generation has a clear vision for the future - one that prioritises convenience while infusing a sense of fun.
When asked about the innovations that could make their future lives simpler, children shared many weird and wonderful ideas, based on a series of technological advancements, including:
- “A robot version of me to go to work so I could stay home and relax and have fun”
- "AI technology that allows me to read people’s minds”
- “A ring that you can ask AI questions, such as the answer to 8x9”
- “Tech that can hear what I am thinking, then make it into an onscreen image or 3D print out”
- “A bank card registered to my fingerprint”
- “A VR headset that I could wear as a policeman, that tells me the identity of people I see around me”
- “A phone that does everything you ever need, opening doors, locking doors, turning things on, so you’d only ever need a phone”
- “Software that would understand what people really mean when they say something”
- “A translator in your head that translates any language”
- “Football boots that measure all the stats of a game and dry themselves”
Kids vs Grown-Ups – could we blink to pay in the future?
To put this research to the test, we recruited six Visa employees and their children to go head-to-head and compete on questions about the past, present, and future of payments.
Watch the video for reactions to ‘complicated’ methods from years gone by, and creative ideas for what the future could hold.
Preparing for a new age of commerce
Younger generations are increasingly forcing businesses, governments and ultimately economies to change how they think and how they will operate in the future. Understanding expectations for a simpler and more convenient life is vital for businesses to stay competitive and for building thriving economies.
As part of our ongoing work to help clients and partners navigate these changes, we're inviting the next generation of innovators to put their ideas to the test by becoming an inventor for the day*. They will have the chance to collaborate with the Visa teams who have spearheaded ground-breaking advancements in payment technology, such as contactless, AI and tokenisation with one of the group being appointed Visa’s first ‘Junior Chief Innovation Officer’.
As experiences and user journeys become more digital, businesses must continue to learn, test and innovate to meet rising expectations. Those who fail to keep up with the pace of change now, will risk falling behind in the future.
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1 Research commissioned by Visa and conducted by Opinium with 550 8-14 year olds. The research was carried out between 15th August 2023 and 22nd August 2023. The data was collected using an online survey in the UK
*T&Cs apply. Children applying must be between 8 – 14 years old, live in the UK (which includes NI), have a parent or legal guardian’s permission to enter (your parent or legal guardian must also live in the UK (which includes NI),and have a parent or legal guardian who consents to the terms of entry. Successful applicants selected via a random ballot at least 30 days before the event and notified with more details closer to the time. Enter between 14 November 2023 - 31 January 2024. 30 winners will be selected from the ballot to attend the Junior Inventors' Day.