Millennials and Gen Zers have changed the way we market to consumers. They are the most tech-savvy generation that has existed so far, which explains why marketing to this audience requires a different approach. They have grown up with smartphones from a young age and are more plugged into social media, apps, and general Internet culture than any other generation before them.
As consumers continue to adopt new technologies and platforms at an increasing rate, marketing strategies will need to adapt to stay relevant. The upcoming generation – Generation Alpha – represents the next step in that progression. This generation consists of children born from 2010-2025. Read on to learn more about what the future of marketing looks like as a result of this new generation and how you can leverage these insights within your own marketing strategy moving forward.
Introducing Gen-Alpha Consumers
Generation Alpha are often referred to as ‘digital natives’ – they have never known a world without devices like smartphones and tablets, as well as AI and voice-assisted technology such as Alexa. According to a Global Web Index (GWI) report, 65% of children aged 8-11 own or have access to a mobile phone. Among the same age group, 73% said they play video games daily or on most days. Even parents who prefer to limit their children’s technology usage had no say in the matter when the pandemic meant schools had to operate online – this meant that majority of children got used to using video as their primary means of communicating with teachers and peers.
The newest members of Gen Alpha will most likely grow up with driverless cars and trains, and many other forms of automation. They will also have the greatest spending power of any generation so far. In addition, they will be the first generation of consumers who will experience marketing from an early age. This presents a unique opportunity for brands to shape Gen-Alpha’s relationship with marketing right from the start. As a result, this generation might expect marketing to play a large role in their lives and for brands to be a part of their daily routines.
However, since all members of Gen-Alpha are under 12 and many haven’t been born yet, there isn’t a lot of data about what this generation will favour in terms of marketing. When more data is available, marketers can begin to get a clearer understanding of the next generation of consumers and how they’ll affect the industry.
While there is limited scope as to what research can be done at the moment, some initial insights have come to light.
Social Media Usage and Influencer Marketing
Social media will continue to be a priority for marketers when it comes to Gen Alpha. The GWI report states that 58% of users aged 12-15 said that one of their main reasons for using social media is to find funny posts, while 38% use it to follow celebrities and influencers. While these figures are based on the youngest members of Gen Z, the trend is likely to continue. This also suggests that providing entertaining content may be the key to engaging with this audience and keeping their attention.
In addition, more than 50% of children aged 6-16 have said they would want to buy an item of their favourite YouTube or Instagram ‘star’ is using, wearing or consuming it.
It’s likely that influencer marketing will have a big part to play in the coming years – despite the various ethical concerns involved, there are already influencers within the Gen Alpha age group, including some who started their career at birth.
Video marketing has been extremely important to Millennials and Gen Zers, but it will play an even larger role for Gen-Alpha. In fact, this will be the first generation that has grown up with video from birth. Marketers will therefore need to shift their focus to video as a primary way of reaching consumers. While both Millennials and Gen Zers consume video, Gen-Alphaers will expect video to be the default form of communication.
Voice Assisted Technology
In the past few years, marketers have leveraged automation and business intelligence software to organise data and make strategic decisions. However, these tools were designed to be accessed through a computer or smartphone with a keyboard. As voice communication becomes one of the primary channels of communication, businesses will need to integrate the technology into their marketing automation strategies.
Voice assisted technology (VAT) is the umbrella term for devices that allow people to interact with digital systems using natural language, instead of buttons, menus or icons. This technology is used in marketing by allowing customers to order or inquire about products and services without ever having to pick up the phone.
Some common examples of VAT are virtual assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana. These devices are equipped with voice recognition software that can parse human speech and respond accordingly.
VAT has been around for a while, but it is only recently that the technology has become sophisticated enough to be used in marketing. In the past, voice recognition software was not very accurate and often resulted in errors. However, recent advancements in artificial intelligence have made it possible for VAT to become a reliable tool for businesses.
There are many advantages to using VAT in marketing automation. First of all, it is a very convenient way for customers to interact with businesses – they can simply ask a question and get an instant response, without having to wait on hold or navigate through a complex menu. It is also very fast and efficient, which is important in today’s busy world.
AI and Machine Learning Will Grow in Importance
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are among the most important trends in marketing right now, and they will grow in importance even further in the future. AI will allow for more accurate segmentation and personalisation – which is something that consumers already expect.
More advanced insights will allow for more personalised marketing messaging and recommendations as well as a deeper understanding of what customers want. In addition, AI content generators will free up time to focus more on strategy, allowing marketers to deliver more value through their content than ever before.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
As Millennials have grown up, one of the most significant changes in their relationship with technology has been their adoption of VR. Although VR has been a rising trend for the past few years, it’s expected to become a norm within the next decade. As Gen-Alpha reaches adulthood and becomes the dominant force in marketing, marketers will need to focus on VR and AR as the primary ways to reach consumers.
Virtual reality can be used to create a more immersive experience for customers. For example, a customer might be able to “try on” a product before making a purchase. This can help reduce the chances of buyer’s remorse. It can also be used to create experiences that are not possible in the real world, such as flying through space or touring ancient ruins, allowing businesses to showcase their products in unique and exciting ways.
Augmented reality is on the rise in many industries. In retail, it allows consumers to try before they buy. For example, some prominent cosmetic brands have developed ways for customers to digitally try on make-up. A similar concept is virtual dressing rooms. Various industries have started to introduce AR to augment the physical environment, where customers can scan codes to bring up additional information about products.
As well as assisting purchase decisions, VR and AR can showcase products that are in development which engages customers further. People will also seek out experiences as a way to test out new technologies – facilitating their use will make consumers actually want to be marketed to.
Millennials and Gen Zers Will Continue to Influence Marketing Strategies
Members of Gen Alpha are influenced by their parents – the millennials – and this is apparent not only in their heavy internet usage. Millennials are known to conduct thorough research before purchase, and the same will occur when making purchases for the youngest members of Gen Alpha.
Their influence is also present in terms of values. For Gen Alpha, corporate social responsibility will be a key factor and companies that align with their values will likely see greater brand loyalty. In a survey of 4,000 individuals between the ages of 6 and 16 (50% in the UK and 50% in the US), 66% said they want to buy from companies that are trying to do good in the world.
Sustainability will be a major focus for members of Gen Alpha. This generation will experience more extreme weather events than any generation has for quite some time, and it’s predicted that many will pursue careers relating to environmental protection.
As Gen-Alpha grows up and enters the workforce, it will be exposed to Gen Zers as colleagues and managers. These younger Gen Zers will continue to influence Gen-Alpha marketers as they adopt their positions in the workplace.
Digital Isn’t Everything
While marketing through online channels is the main focus when it comes to such a technologically-advanced generation, surveys have indicated that Gen Alpha highly value spending time outdoors. With 71% saying their family is their top priority and 47% preferring to divide the time equally between indoor and outdoor activities, it will be important not to neglect offline marketing channels.
With Gen-Alpha controlling the marketing landscape, brands will need to adopt new technologies and strategies in order to remain competitive. Social media and influencer marketing will continue to be a priority and video will be the primary form of content that is expected of businesses. Millennials and Gen Zers will have an influence on this generation – authentic demonstrations of corporate social responsibility will go a long way in winning them over.
If you need assistance with your strategy in the ever-changing landscape of marketing, I will be delighted to help.