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How to Market to Generation Alpha

It’s time to start thinking about Gen Alpha—yes, already!

Gen what? Gen Alpha. Each generation (of approximately 20 years) exemplifies certain attitudes, behaviors, and historical/cultural events that have shaped a group of people. Learning about each of the past 6 generations can help marketers better understand their current (and ever-evolving) target audiences. Let’s break these generation names down from the past century:

  • Silent Generation: Born 1925-1945. → want products/services that make their life easier, are loyal to brands and value relationships

  • Baby Boomers: Born 1946-1964. → have lots of purchasing power and discretionary income, motivated by good deals, lived most of their lives without modern technology

  • Generation X: Born 1965-1980. → are cautious with money and skeptical of brands, resist change, appreciate peer reviews, lived with modern technology most of their lives

  • Millennials: Born: 1981-1996. → grew up with modern technology, gravitate toward authentic brand messaging and companies that align with their values

  • Generation Z: Born 1997-2012. → are extremely tech savvy, hold a lot of spending power, utilize social media to research and engage with brands

  • Generation Alpha: Born 2013-2025.

Generation Alpha succeeds Gen Z and includes those people born between 2013 and 2025. That means the eldest of Gen Alpha are already nearing their early teen years. Remember how quickly all-things Gen Z became the marketing rage? Well, Gen Alpha is not far behind. Therefore, it would behoove brands to get ahead of the curve—to understand more about the current and future wants and needs of this growing demographic.

3 Characteristics to Include in Your Gen Alpha Marketing

Since Gen Alpha is still quite young (i.e. they're under 18 years old and don’t necessarily have their own spending money or autonomy), we’ll keep learning about them year after year. But we can suss out a few key characteristics and values that set this group apart from generations prior.

1. Authenticity.

Gen Alpha follows in Gen Z’s footsteps with this one. Trust in brands’ products, services, practices, and missions will be critical for longevity. Alignment goes along with this—Do all the components of this brand hold up to what it says it is?

2. Sustainability.

Our world is quite literally burning…There seems to be a new natural disaster somewhere around the world at least once per week. The consequences of global warming will be of great importance to Gen Alpha, along with other issues like social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion. In short, Gen Alpha will care a lot about their purpose.

3. Creativity.

For Gen Alpha, their entire lives have been (and will continue to be) online—particularly via mobile device. Creativity also comes in the form of how Gen Alpha has come to connect with others (think Zoom school during the pandemic and social media apps like BeReal). Whether they’re playing online games, creating their own content, or collaborating with peers on a school project, creation and connection will be central to their consumption of media, entertainment, goods, and services.

But if Gen Alpa is still so young, why should marketers care?

Why You Should Learn to Market to Gen Alpha BEFORE They Have Spending Power

Well, not only is Gen Alpha the rising generation (expected to reach approximately 2.2 billion people) that will soon grow into consumers of their own, but parents (usually millennials) care deeply about (and cater to) their kids. A piece in Insider Intelligence notes, “Children’s influence on household purchases takes hold around age 5, when they become more skilled communicators and start going to school where peers begin to inform their opinions.” As demonstrated in the values above, “To reach Gen Alpha’s parents, marketers should lean into how their products or services can improve their children’s well-being or make the world a better place.” When brands lean into purpose, integrity, and innovation, they will inspire and influence millennial parents (and their Gen Alpha children).

How to Market to Gen Alpha

In this way, we believe that it is ethical to market towards Gen Alpha so long as what you’re selling (and why) is itself ethical (i.e. versus Juul’s marketing of vape pens to kids). If it makes sense for your brand to advertise and engage with this generation now, here’s how to go about it:

Consider their parents’ (millennials’) values.

…Trust, freedom, memorable experiences, work/life balance, meaningful work, personal connection, and purpose. You can see how these align with the Gen Alpha values listed above (authenticity, sustainability, and creativity). When brands hone in on consumers’ values, they go beyond simply buying and selling goods and services and tap into that which makes us human—our wants, needs, and desires.

Focus on mobile.

Gen Alpha is the most tech savvy group to date…and they don’t even have their licenses yet! According to Retail Dive, “More than 40% of Alphas have used a tablet before age 6, with more than half using video game consoles by age 7. The percentage of Alphas who value having the latest technology is more than double the percentage for Gen Z (63% to 31%, respectively).”

Cultivate experiential marketing.

Experiences are important to millennials, Gen Z, and Gen Alpha. The more your brand can engage customers (online, in person, via collaborations or challenges), the better chance you have of gaining their trust and sustained loyalty.

Lego, Patagonia, and Glossier are three brands that are already implementing these tactics. Marketing Dive attests, “Investing early in understanding and building loyalty with Gen Alpha will pay off for brands as this predicted ‘wealthiest generation’ grows up.”

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