Meet Gen Alpha: The Future Consumer

Marketing strategies are shifting to adapt to the new digitally-savvy generation.

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This article first appeared on Marketing Exec. The original story can be found here.

After running out of letters in the alphabet, the new generation has been coined ‘Gen Alpha’.

Fitting since, similarly to the start of the alphabet, Gen Alpha are set to be the beginning of a new era where they will be digital natives not by choice, but by necessity.

There is no set time for the beginning of the generation, but most consider it to be in 2010 which was, coincidentally, the same year the iPad was released.

Futurist Mark McCrindle, who was largely credited for devising the label Gen Alpha, believes that the upcoming group will be the most active when it comes to using technology.

“They are the most materially endowed and technology literate generation to ever grace the planet,” he said on his website.

Children that are no older than five are now able to navigate iPhones better than their parents, and have access to a plethora of knowledge on the internet.

This generation, alongside Generation Z before them, are known for their lack of focus, which is both a blessing and a curse. They can multi-task better than their predecessors, but this may also mean they have short attention spans.

Infographic depicting the story of the emerging generations, Source: Mccrindle

With children who are often caught dividing their attention between homework and social media, eating and watching TV, it raises the question: how do businesses capture their attention?

No Customer is the Same

Karen Ganschow believes Pokémon Go did an excellent job of maintaining the attention of younger generations and personalising their experiences, which contributed to their success.

“Pokémon Go reminds us once again the need customers have for deep personalisation. Interactions with big brands should be all about them. Not something that looks like it’s been sprayed up for 1000 people. It’s something that’s definitely got their names, their initials, their story,” she said.

Customers need to feel unique when being marketed towards, and this will be especially true with Gen Alpha. Using data to tailor a product to the customers’ preferences is key to customer engagement and retention.

McCrindle echoes similar thoughts, as he suggests that personalisation will only go further than it already has.

“They have been shaped in an era of individualisation and customisation where they can get their name printed into the storyline of books, embroidered onto their shirts or put on the jar of Nutella. To have a mini doll made in their image, while unfathomable for previous generations, is just the next extension of this.”

The World of Mobile

McCrindle has also discussed the platforms that Gen Alpha will be using, suggesting that the post-millennials will be “screenagers”, constantly connected to screens.

He believes that screens will be more revolutionary than paper was in the centuries before computers and smartphones; screens will encourage greater connectivity.

“Generation Alpha are part of an unintentional global experiment where screens are placed in front of them from the youngest age as pacifiers, entertainers and educational aids. This great screenage in which we are all living has bigger impacts on the generation exposed to such screen saturation during their formative years,” he said.

This means that businesses should follow suit by making sure they are always connected with customers and reminding them that they value them as a consumer.

The Downfalls of Connectivity

Although, the opportunity to stay connected also has its drawbacks. With the help of social media, customers can quickly express their positive and negative thoughts online. This could potentially lead to poor reputations.

There was no better example of this than last year’s #CensusFail, which went viral after angry citizens were unable to log on to complete the Census.

With more consumers joining social media every day, the risk of going viral for all the wrong reasons increases. It’s essential to ensure that your business is always working to provide the best customer experience to prevent this from happening.

With expectations of good connectivity, accessibility to information and an effective customer experience, Gen Alpha are increasing the pressure on businesses to continuously improve.

It is not long until Gen Alpha become the new customers, so it is more essential now than ever for businesses to adopt digital processes and focus on customising their experience in preparation.