July 21, 2024

Table of Contents

Dive Brief:

  • A majority of Gen Alpha possesses a more mature, grounded perception of brands than their parents did at the same age, a quality that will challenge conventional marketing strategies, according to a study conducted between Razorfish and researcher GWI.   
  • Defined as those born between 2010 and today, the cohort has easy access to a technology and media ecosystem that has fostered a wide variety of interests and knowledge-seeking drive. It’s also made Gen Alpha more discerning and informed when evaluting brands.
  • Gen Alpha’s heightened skepticism is apparent elsewhere, as they express a low level of trust in TV personalities while just 21% view athletes and celebrities as role models. The group shows higher favor for brands that can inspire creativity versus the snack and candy products that Gen Z preferred.

Dive Insight:

Gen Alpha is still a ways off from achieving independent purchasing power, but the cohort is already expressing greater sophistication when it comes to brands than other young generations. A higher level of discernment applies to public figures as well, as Gen Alpha does not put much stock in athletes or celebrities and has a particularly low opinion of “People on TV,” a group that stood among the top three least-trustworthy assessed by the age set. Instead, Gen Alpha values content creators and is engaged by “edutainment” content.

These insights pose some obstacles for what have been fairly reliable influencer marketing strategies brands have employed to curry favor with Gen Z and millennials. Gen Alpha sometimes associates the scale of a marketing play with a lack of authenticity: Just 14% picked a brand as their favorite due a celebrity endorsement while only 20% did so due to the company producing “really great commercials.” 

When ranking their preferred brands, Gen Alpha pointed to technology companies and “enablers of inspiration and creativity,” as Razorfish termed it. Apple and Samsung were in the top five, as was Lego. The list draws a contrast with Gen Z’s picks from 2012, which were skewed toward snack brands like M&M’s, Oreos and Doritos.

Gen Alpha’s habits may seem counterintuitive at a glance. They are the most digitally native generation, with 62% of parents reporting their child spends more time on social media than they did at the same age. By age 13, Gen Alphas own as many devices as adults, with 90% having a smartphone. When browsing the internet, 58% seek out information about brands and nearly the same share (56%) look into tech products. 

But that hasn’t dampened Gen Alpha’s IRL interactions, as 62% of parents believe their child is more social than they were at the same age. The No. 2 most-popular way Gen Z discovers new brands is through in-person interactions in places like stores and malls. 

Hacks, how-tos and do-it-yourself videos are some of the most popular content genres with Gen Alpha, underscoring a sense of self-reliance and problem-solving. Parents’ perceptions of these plugged-in qualities are also shifting: Despite some of the “techlash,” two-thirds believe their child is a more independent thinker than they were at their age and 61% see modern technology as a boost to learning efficiency. Artificial intelligence like ChatGPT landed as the No. 4 preferred learning medium among Gen Alpha, just below teachers, speaking to a desire for fast answers. AI and ChatGPT bested books on this front, a sign that the current literacy crisis in the U.S. could endure.   

“They value quick tips, shortcuts, and actionable insights,” the Razorfish report stated of Gen Alpha. “Marketers need to recognize this mindset and ensure that brand education is delivered through bite-size, practical content that captures their attention and meets their desire for quick, useful knowledge.”

An appetite for curiosity has led Gen Alpha to have twice as many identifiable interests as Gen Z, and those interests often aren’t fleeting. Gen Alpha has also carried on Gen Z’s preference for gaming and gamified experiences. Assessing brand experiences they would most enjoy, 53% of Gen Alpha cited games and apps that teach useful skills.

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