3 Keys to Creating Experiences that Gen Alpha Loves

Experts from GWI, McCrindle, MG2 and Razorfish offered their insights and analysis on what Gen Alpha really wants from brands.
Photo credit: Seventyfour -

Gen Alpha is poised to reach 2 billion people by 2025, making it the largest generation in history, according to Matt Smith, Trends Manager at GWI. However, the influence and impact of this consumer base already are significant, considering the heightened role they’ve played in household decision-making processes since the start of the pandemic.

“Families spent more time under the same roof and ultimately, the household decision-making process has become more democratic as a result,” Smith said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “The number of eight- to 11-year-olds who say they make joint decisions over the food they eat and the toys they buy alongside their parents has increased since 2021. ‘Pester power’ has never been higher.

Gen Alphas also are building their own personal wealth, which is giving them more discretionary spending money. GWI found that, across select markets, the number of teenagers (aged 12 to 15) buying online has increased 20% since 2021.

For brands and retailers, this creates a significant opportunity to acquire new customers and extend their reach to a highly profitable audience. However, to be successful, they must understand Gen Alpha’s unique behaviors and preferences. Retail TouchPoints’ recent Consumer Analysis Report featured insights from Smith, as well as experts from McCrindle, MG2 and Razorfish to analyze these nuances and how they can inform merchants’ current and future customer engagement strategies.

Takeaway 1: Harness the Power of Play

Gen Alpha consumers are 2X more likely to see gaming as a form of self-expression than Gen Zs, according to research from Razorfish. As a result, gaming platforms and, more broadly speaking, gamification strategies, can drive interaction and engagement in a more authentic and meaningful way.

“Keep in mind, [these consumers] are largely children and young teens, so play is key,” noted Mark McCrindle, social analyst, demographer and founder of McCrindle in an interview with Retail TouchPoints.

McCrindle outlined five key behaviors and tactical elements that feed that desire to play:

  1. Adventure and experience;
  2. Social interaction and engagement;
  3. Challenges through sport, competition, achievement or skill;
  4. Creation, whether it be art, design or building something; and
  5. Collecting or swapping items.

Roblox has become a powerful vehicle for this kind of play, largely because it combines social interaction, discovery and challenges. Brands such as Claire’s, E.l.f. Beauty and Forever 21 also have designed gaming spaces in Roblox to incorporate product discovery and avatar customization, which creates a connection between Gen Alpha’s digital personas and their real-life behaviors.

“Claire’s has a longstanding history and passion for emerging culture,” said Kristin Patrick, EVP and Chief Marketing Officer at Claire’s in a statement announcing the launch of its ShimmerVille experience, which has become integral to its Gen Alpha engagement strategy. “Our consumers sit at the intersection of the physical and digital spaces, and by creating a footprint in Roblox and bridging those worlds we are creating a uniquely ‘phygital’ experience to drive community, brand love and our business. We have always been about self-expression, and by reimagining the ways we innovate and evolve, we are celebrating our brand purpose in a whole new way.”


Takeaway 2: Understand their Sources of Influence

Gen Alpha’s parents (who are largely millennials) had early access to social media and the broader internet. What they didn’t have, however, was real-time access to social media creators and professional influencers who monetize their reach and influence over their audiences. As a result, these parents cannot fully gauge the commerce impact of this content, even as Gen Alpha consumes and shares it with their peers.

“When we were young, our influencers were our mom,” noted Melissa Gonzalez, Principal at MG2 and a mother and aunt to Gen Alpha girls. “Gen Alpha has access to this much larger stage of people [on social media] they can learn from and be influenced by.”

And Gen Alpha is content-obsessed: More than 51% of Gen Alphas learn about brands through YouTube videos, according to Razorfish. GWI also found that while Gen Alpha mainly uses social media to find funny posts (61%) and memes (46%), they also want to see what’s trending and being discussed online (42%).

Brands such as Drunk Elephant and Stanley have experienced this “influencer effect” firsthand, and other brands can use these case studies to explore how they can create and re-share brand-relevant content to inspire education and discovery.

After all Gen Alpha are not just consumers; thanks to the power of social media, they’re also educators, Gonzalez noted. “When we think about cross-generational influence, their influence on parents is going to be even more significant. They know trends before we do. The Stanley phenomenon is a great example of that.”

Takeaway 3: Embrace Their Intentional Technology Use

Sure, Gen Alpha is a digitally empowered cohort — they’re called “iPad kids” for a reason.

“A notable characteristic of Gen Alpha lies in their empowerment by technology rather than dependence on it,” explained Dani Mariano, President of Razorfish in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Many Alphas have owned digital devices from a very young age, and the prolonged use has diminished the novelty associated with screens. Unlike Gen Z, Alphas, out of necessity due to online learning during the pandemic, acquired personal devices at an even earlier stage in their lives. By the age of six, a majority of them already possess a tablet, and by the age of 10 most have their own smartphone.”

However, because they spent several years highly connected to technology and had to learn how to learn remotely, they now prioritize mental health and using technology intentionally. In fact, 94% of Gen Alpha consumers opt for outdoor activities, exercise or reduced tech usage as methods to manage their mental health and disconnect from the digital realm, according to Razorfish research.

Brands should consider this research when crafting their omnichannel strategies. While these consumers use gaming platforms, social networks and other apps to consume content and discover brands and products, they still do seek physical experiences in stores and at community events.

Want to learn more about how to reach and resonate with Gen Alpha? Click here to download the entire report now.

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