Do retailers need to start paying serious attention to Generation Alpha?


Jan 31, 2023

Generation Alpha may be about to take over as the biggest disruptor of retail as members of the youngest generation enter their teenage years.

“We already see them having a lot of influence on purchasing even beyond their own spend and pocket money,” Mark McCrindle, the Australian social researcher who coined the term Generation Alpha, recently told NACS Magazine. “They are influencing parental purchasing decisions — ‘kidfluence’ as it’s being called. They understand the pop culture. They’re on the websites, and they know what the latest trends are. They’re growing up in society where in many ways young people have more power than they used to.”

Generally seen as individuals born from the mid-2010s through the mid-2020s, Generation Alpha is expected to have more than two billion members by 2025, making it the largest generation in history.

Much of the recent Gen Alpha discussion has explored their digital savviness and potential to drive the success of the metaverse.

Research last year from Cassandra by Big Village found 64 percent of seven- to 12-year-olds would rather be a YouTube social media influencer than the President of the U.S. When asked how they introduce themselves, 58 percent of them said as a gamer, with 82 percent agreeing they can figure most things out if they have access to technology.

Beyond social media, mental health was found to particularly weigh on the minds of Gen Alpha. With many spending critical development years living through a pandemic, major movements promoting diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), and an eco-crisis, Generation Alpha was also found to be more socially aware than past generations.

In a recent blog entry, Susan Reda, VP, education strategy at the National Retail Federation, noted that, given their gaming inclination, Gen Alpha want to be active participants and play a part in finding solutions, suggesting “they will want to have relationships with brands and not just passively consume.”

She also inferred that their early exposure to world issues will elevate the importance of environmental, social and governance concerns. Ms. Reda wrote, “In other words, this generation, which is already more diverse than any that came before, will expect inclusion and equality to be the norm and experiences to be culturally diverse.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What advice would you have for retailers or brands about preparing for the emergence of Generation Alpha as consumers? What predictions heard so far about Gen Alphers make the most and least sense?

Braintrust

“There is a danger in not paying attention to kids, but most companies don’t and end up playing catch up. This is why I have always said companies need a VP of Pop Culture.”

“This view needs to relate to all consumers as ‘kidfluence’ is a genuine factor and does affect consumer behavior already.”

“Retailers must understand that tomorrow isn’t going to be the same as today. Retailers must be futurists. It will be better if they act too early rather than too late.”

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