Is it a bit silly to start worrying about marketing to a generation that can’t even drive let alone dress itself yet? Perhaps—but some marketers have already lampooned the idea of preparing for an onslaught of tyke buyers.
Which tyke buyers are we talking about? Generation Alpha – the children of Millennials, who are beginning to push 40.
While some people may think that looking at a group of toddlers and elementary school kids might be a bit preemptive, keep in mind they’re already accounting for a lot of spending, and they’re influencing their parents’ buying decisions which is important to note. According to this 2016 study from Cartoon Network of all places, children in Australia aged four to 14 already have a lot of spending power – in the billions, to be exact – just through pocket money. Perhaps more importantly, with over 2.5 million Gen Alpha kids being born each week, it’s estimated that this generation will be over 2 billion strong.
Now, assuming these numbers and trends are only going to continue, that’s a lot of buying power. Plus, we can predict a few behavioral patterns based on the spending habits of their parents—Millennials, who were born into a world where smartphones, screens, tablets, and constant interconnectivity have long since become commonplace.
With that in mind, let’s briefly review how B2C marketers can get ready for Generation Alpha:
More Visual Content
You think millennials are online? No, Generation Alpha puts their rapidly-reaching-middle-age brethren to shame when it comes to staying online. These kids, born in 2010 or after, never log off. They’re the first gen to truly grow up with the modern Internet. Meanwhile, Millennials are the last generation to remember land lines, modems, and playing outside.
You can get guess what that means: Gen Alpha kids know their Instagrams and YouTubes like we know our snap bracelets and starter jackets. In fact, 87 percent of kids in this generation prefer video platforms such as YouTube to television, even as they’re aging. This is anecodotal evidence, but we’ve heard the younger set refer to traditional TV commercials as “Skip Ads.” That’s how online they are.
Bottom line is, if you haven’t embraced video make it a priority soon.
More Interactive Content
Since they’re born with iPads, Siris, and Joy-Cons in their hands, Gen Alpha are more used to interacting with their devices, and their content, than previous generations. Brands need to create content that they can talk to, toy with, and, basically, engage more with.
Platforms like Instagram Stories are very interactive. Brands can create highly visual and interactive polls with Instagram Stories, which can either then disappear (to create a feeling of urgency) or stay archived on the top of the profile page.
YouTubers are personalities kids can directly engage with, either through text-based chat or webcam. Commercial brands can host more live video sessions, either on Facebook or YouTube or Twitch, where customers directly ask questions and engage with the audience. If you have the bandwidth, you can create weekly shows or a monthly check-in with audiences. Video game brands such as Capcom are really good at hosting frequent play sessions that show off gameplay, and where developers can answer questions and host giveaways.
Furniture, clothing, and toy brands can also leverage Augmented Reality. Pokemon Go, which beams pocket monsters into real-life environments through your phone’s screen, is still a sensation. That’s due to the enormous power of the brand, but also, there’s nothing else like it on the market still. An action figure line or clothing line can sneak in and take over the AR sector of their market.
Then there’s voice features – Google Home, Siri, and Alexa – kids can ask their tablets questions any time. They’re growing up with “digital butlers.” Get your content optimized for mispronunciations and questions that sound like real language.
Brands should beware when leverage this tech, however—especially when it comes to collecting data. Video app TikTok got hit with a record-setting $5.7 million fine for illegally collecting personal info (email addresses, names, location) from kids under 13. Pay attention to regulations such as COPPA as you create content.
Embrace Brevity (and Captivating Storytelling)
Kids have a wealth of options at their disposal. Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, plus, they can curate their own video playlists whenever they want.
We’re not saying attention spans are only going to shorten, but bite-sized readily available content that answers questions as fast as possible are going to be super-important. In fact, they should be already. Everyone wants questions answered quicker. Gen Alpha will definitely continue that trend.
On the flipside, Millennials also appreciate a good story. All those kids who grew up on Toonami over 20 years are going to put Batman: The Animated Series and Castle in the Sky on for their children. In that light, prepare to captivate on an emotional level. Use dynamic color in your visuals. You don’t have to be the next Stan Lee, but your stories are the ones that are going to define a generation. Give them thought. And hire a culturally diverse crew to round out your messaging. You don’t think the diversity-championing, gender norm-shattering Millennials and Gen-Z are going stop with the Alphas, do you?
Let’s get real. Millennials and Gen Z distrust businesses. And they’re going to pass these values onto their kids. Makes sense, doesn’t it? But it’s a great opportunity for brands to take stock of their own values and make sure they align with those of their customers. It’s also an opportunity for brands to embrace authenticity and honest interactions with audiences.
If something doesn’t go right with a product launch or software upgrade don’t sweep it under the rug. Shine a light on it, say you’ve got a plan for improvements, and act on those plans while keeping everyone updated along the way.
And hey, if you’ve ever been around kids (or aging Millennials), you know how fickle they can be.
Yes, Generation Alpha’s takeover is still a ways away. But it’s not too early to start understanding the trends and habits of Gen Alpha and preparing a strategy for engaging with this up and coming generation of real digital natives.