Generation Alpha

Preparing for the future consumer

Many organisations are struggling to initiate strategies that will make them relevant to future generations of customers. Retail innovators like Amazon are leading the way with one-day delivery, lightning-fast payments, value-added loyalty schemes and content creation – setting the benchmark for customer expectations.

To have any chance of competing, retailers need to look beyond their quarterly, half, and annual targets. The only way they can hope to meet the expectations of Generation Alpha (aged 6-16) is to adopt a long-term view.

With this in mind, Wunderman Thompson Commerce set out to discover more about Alphas, the next generation of consumers. We spoke to over 4,000 individuals in this age bracket (2,000 in the UK and 2,000 in the US) to learn more about their views on everything from influencers and Amazon, to deliveries and the shop floor.

Who are Generation Alpha today and who are they likely to become in ten years’ time?

  • Generation Alpha are characterised by their strong values, which will dictate who they buy from. 
  • Alphas are looking forward to having their own spending power and are already excited about making their own purchasing decisions.
  • Digital hasn’t won over outdoor pursuits just yet – they still enjoy life away from screens; so, while they may be digital natives, their relationship with digital isn’t exclusive.

The power of influencers:

  • Over half of our Alpha respondents want to buy something if their favourite YouTube or Instagram star is using, wearing or consuming it.
  • Influencers have relegated family members to third position when it comes to affecting Generation Alpha’s buying habits.
  • 14% of Alphas would like to see influencers have their own retail outlets.
  • Online videos are the channels with the most influence over them.

Brands and Amazon’s endurance:

  • From a young age, children are aware of brands and begin to recognise and even form a relationship with the brands they see.
  • The majority of our Alpha respondents have heard of Amazon and 72% like it as a company.
  • Two thirds of Alphas want to buy from companies that are trying to do good in the world.

Technologies of tomorrow’s shopper:

  • The supposed digitally native generation is more analogue than you might expect; physical shopping remains a prominent part of their shopping experience.
  • With over half of Alphas already talking to Alexa, comfort with voice interaction is only going to get stronger.

Defined by delivery:

  • Generation Alpha are less patient, and happy to wait only 2.23 days on average for an online delivery to arrive – much lower than the 2.95 days adults are willing to accept. 
  • Delivery times shape where, and with which retailers Alphas will shop; 20% will never buy from somewhere that can’t deliver the next day. 
  • Delivery is an emotional experience for Alphas: 90% feel happy when an online order arrives and 47% share photos of their order once they’ve received it.
  • The flipside of this emotional experience is that they feel frustration when obliged to wait. 
  • Organisations must harness the positives and mitigate the frustrations in the delivery experience.

Retailers must anticipate the desires of Generation Alpha five to ten years into the future or they will risk losing the next generation of consumers before they even begin shopping.

Businesses who prepare now will ensure they’re ready to meet Alphas’ needs when they come of age.

For more in-depth insight and actions to create a future-ready shopping experience read Wunderman Thompson Commerce’s Generation Alpha: Preparing for the future consumer 

Wunderman Thompson Commerce

published on

03 December 2019


Commerce Communications Experience

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