Gen Alpha

The influencers of tomorrow: 4 things brands need to know about Gen Alpha

ITB Worldwide

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December 16, 2022 | 6 min read

What do Prince George, North West and Asahd Tuck Khaled all have in common? It’s not that they all have famous parents or that they’re constantly in the spotlight, but they are among what is set to be the largest generation in history (over two billion people by 2025) with a huge collective spending power

What do Prince George, North West and Asahd Tuck Khaled all have in common? It’s not that they all have famous parents or that they’re constantly in the spotlight, but they are among what is set to be the largest generation in history (over two billion people by 2025) with a huge collective spending power.

If marketers think Gen Z is the most lucrative consumer group today, then it’s time to think again. Generation Alpha (those born from the mid-early 2010s and still being born until the mid-2020s) is tipped to be the wealthiest, most educated and technologically connected demographic of them all.

And with an estimated 2.7 million Alphas born globally every week, it’s about time marketers got to know them just as well as they have gotten to know their parents (who are mostly Millennials). That’s important because these “mini millennials” are believed to have a close relationship with their parents and are likely to display similar consumer habits – with a bit of a twist.

Millennials were the first digital natives, followed by Gen Z who grew up during a time when social media was being established. For Gen Z, social media is a tool to express themselves; for Gen Alpha, it’s a way of life. They were born the same year the iPad was born – and it’s likely that many of them will have a digital footprint before they even understand what that means.

Gen Alpha (also known as the ‘Glass Generation’) is the first to have been raised on screens and immersed in technology their entire lives – with glass-fronted devices being their main medium of communication. Unofficially dubbed ‘Gen C’ (Generation Covid), their lives have been shaped by the pandemic, with an increasing dependence on the tech that replaced critical in-person social interactions.

It means that brands will have to adapt to radically new ways of interacting and communicating with this generation and provide seamless, integrated, personalized online and digital experiences.

Here’s four essential considerations for brands when building marketing strategies to connect with Gen Alpha:

1. Experiences over products

The old scenario of ‘kid sees toy (in a shop or in a TV ad), asks parent to buy it, parent gives in’ has gone out the window. Brands must create meaningful content and experiences that connect with Gen Alpha wherever they are. That means building a connected omnichannel experience that is personalized to their preferences but also gives them the opportunity to customize their experiences – allowing them to create their own avatars, game characters and online personas.

They enjoy technology and content that keeps them informed and connected, while creating opportunities for them to contribute, not just consume. That means meeting them in their mediums – notably, gaming platforms. Gen Alpha are using video games from a young age which has impacted their mindset. They want to be active participants and play their part in finding solutions.

2. Community connections

Social media and virtual communities have a huge role to play in the lives of Gen Alpha. Growing up in the age of social media, they are more connected than ever. A 2022 survey by market research company GWI found that 38% of children said they spend most of their time on social media after school, which increases by 43% on the weekends. They are influenced by tech, social media and their peers; the two ‘coolest’ brands for Gen Alpha being Netflix and YouTube, according to GWI.

When asked what influences the things they want to buy, a quarter (25%) said social media, second only to friends (28%) and ahead of family (21%). And, if they saw their favorite Instagram or YouTube star wearing or using a product, 61% of 10-12 year olds and 46% of 13-16 year olds would want to buy it.

Any relationship they have with brands must be a two-way street. Gen Alpha value trust, participation and authenticity. Having grown up with platforms like TikTok, Minecraft and Roblox, they don’t want to passively consume, they want to actively engage with others (brands included) and co-create.

3. Active participation

Not only are Gen Alpha kids connected to their peers via social media, but they’re also socially aware of what’s happening in the world around them and stay on the pulse of global concerns like climate change. With a heightened awareness of the world, they are also keen to learn about social justice and play their part in reversing the damage left behind by past generations.

The creator economy, which has been largely driven by Gen Z, is paving a viable path for this next generation – giving them ownership, authority and influence within the realms in which they operate. Brands need to address world matters with kids in an age-appropriate way and they must be clear in how they tell their brand story – including what the brand stands for, the impact they are making (the good and the bad) and how they are playing a part in finding and building solutions to world issues.

4. Safety first

Shaped by the impact of a global pandemic, age restrictions on social media and parental controls to keep them safe online have kept Gen Alpha largely under wraps from advertisers, but they’re quickly reaching their full potential. In an age where privacy is front and center of the experiences we have online, safety is key for the parents/guardians of Gen Alpha to enable them to make purchases. Having millennial parents who were raised in a digital world and are aware of the risks of connected kids, they also understand the benefits of tech-enabled play in helping them to develop social and global skills.

Brands that make Gen Alpha feel safe, welcomed and valued will stand out among the rest. Above all, brands must ensure that they are authentic and transparent in how they communicate and connect with Gen Alpha to win with the consumers, employees, decision makers and leaders of tomorrow.

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