Cracking the Code on Gen Z and Gen Alpha
An Executive Voices Blog by Hanna Valkeapää-Nokkala, CEO of Bängeri
As their buying power grows, it’s more important than ever that brand owners and retailers understand the wants and needs of Gen Z and Gen Alpha, and how to communicate with these young consumers.
“Gen Z” refers to the generation born roughly between the mid-1990s and early 2010s. They are characterized by growing up in a digital and interconnected world, often demonstrating behaviors like technological proficiency, a strong sense of social justice, and a preference for authenticity.
“Gen Alpha” is typically born from the mid-2010s onward. As the first generation fully raised in the 21st century, Gen Alpha is expected to be highly tech-savvy, with a unique set of experiences and influences shaping their worldview. However, given their young age, the defining characteristics of Gen Alpha are still evolving.
Millennials adapted to the rise of the internet during their formative years, while Gen X adapted later in life and many Boomers still prefer more traditional communication like phone calls. Gen Z and Gen Alpha, however, are digital natives. They prefer instant and visual messaging, as well as short-form content found on TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube. They are also open to testing new and innovative platforms.
Gen Z and Gen Alpha seek authentic experiences and a sense of belonging. In terms of marketing, these demographics largely rely on recommendations, showing flock behavior. This means they don’t want to be overtly advertised to and marketing that feels obvious or aggressive is a turn off for this target audience. Focus instead on the platforms where Gen Z and Gen Alpha are already spending time, be genuine, and be approachable. If decision-makers in your company are not familiar with Gen Z and Gen Alpha’s preferred platforms, start exploring them.
It’s also crucial to be open to feedback, as younger consumers will quickly turn away from companies that are not willing to learn and change. In case of a mistake, don’t try to hide it but be open about how you plan to fix things.
If your brand is not visible where Gen Z and Gen Alpha spend their time, you don’t exist in their minds. This is especially important because, according to Bloomberg, Gen Z commands $360 billion in buying power. Additionally, Forbes reported that 93% of parents say their Gen Z children influence household spending. Gen Alpha, meanwhile, is projected to have the greatest spending power in history.
So, how can licensing executives take advantage of this growing spending power? Brands with cultural relevance are most magnetic for Gen Z. The goal is to understand and identify new trends early. By observing young consumers who are early adopters, it’s possible to identify new trends before other age groups implement them and younger consumers move on to the next big thing.
It’s essential to study these consumers and ask Gen Z and Gen Alpha themselves where they’d like to connect with your brand and how. Brands that plan too far without involving Gen Z advisors may face challenges with their products or campaigns. This is especially true when it comes to the visual identity of a brand, which can be a make-or-break factor for these demographics. Make sure your visual identity is appealing to young consumers by testing the style and visuals early in the designing process.
Considering the wants and needs of Gen Z and Gen Alpha is necessary to future-proof your brand. These consumers will grow up, and you want your brand and business to grow up with them. However, the same recipe that worked with Boomers and Gen X is no longer valid with Gen Z and Gen Alpha. One size doesn’t fit all ages, and you need tailor-made plans for these younger target audiences.
Bängeri is a leading Nordic consultancy specializing in the Gen Z demographic. The Company engages Gen Z advisors to collaborate with companies in enhancing brand strategies, product and service offerings, and optimizing marketing strategies. Young people’s opinions influence up to 87 percent of family consumption choices, and Bängeri connects Gen Z and companies, ensuring Gen Z voices are heard in the co-creation process. Headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, the team serves clients across EMEA and the US. More information is available at bangeri.com