How brands should prepare for the fully-wired Generation Alpha

by | Dec 18, 2017 | Analysis, Public Relations

A baby can use a touchscreen device before they’re talking. A pre-schooler can ask Alexa to tell him a knock knock joke (I know from real-life; my son definitely thinks that Alexa is way funnier than I am). An elementary school kid asks for their pocket money to be paid in Robux.

Stories like this show how young people are already encountering the world in different ways than the generations before them. Known as Generation Alpha, a term coined by social researcher Mark McCrindle to describe the cohort of people born after 2010, this generation now lives in a world that is overwhelmingly dominated by digital technologies.

Generation Alpha are born into a world which all devices are intelligent, where everything is connected and physical and digital environments merge into one. Technology is heavily involved in everything that they see and interact with—from how their parents shop, how their home is kept safe to how they’re educated at school and what they play with. This new environment influences their attitudes, habits and cognitive abilities and will shape who they grow up to be. Indeed, some psychologists and neuro-scientists even believe that their minds will be in some ways different to those of previous generations.

How will brands engage with Generation Alpha?

In order to succeed with this next generation—not only when they grow up and make their own purchasing decisions, but also right now as their desires impact their parents’ purchasing decisions—brands will also need to think differently.

To get ahead of this, at Hotwire we worked with Wired to explore what makes Generation Alpha tick. The report doesn’t make crystal ball predictions, but explores the current and emerging trends that will set Generation Alpha apart from today’s consumers. Looking specifically into how technology and culture are impacting this generation, our report explored the technological trends that will define this generation. And by knowing this, identify how brands can stay ahead of these changing tastes and attitudes to reach and engage with tomorrow’s consumers.

According to Tom Upchurch, Head of Wired Consulting, the launch of this report couldn’t be more timely: “We’re entering an age where there is a discernible gap emerging between older and younger generations and their experience of technology. It’s influencing habits, attitudes and even fundamental cognitive abilities. This new environment will need to be collaboratively designed by parents, educational institutions, digital designers and the youngest members of our society—to help ensure that this digital future is empowering, rather than impoverishing, this new generation.”

While you’ll need to read the full report to really get under the skin of Generation Alpha, here are three insights—and how brands will need to change up their communications—to get you started:

Brain activities like memories will be outsourced to computers

How do we communicate if our target audience has neither the capacity nor desire for remembering facts? Change the game. Proactive communications campaigns will now have to entertain people, not educate, and keep them coming back from more. Don’t bother throwing facts at them as they won’t stick, instead focus on targeted placement that are persuasive, brief and show up highly on Google

The screen will have less and less importance

While we won’t see a complete death of the screen as a marketing channel, it’s clear that voice is going to be increasingly how people engage with consumer services and brands. While most brands now are on their way to creating Alexa skills, but brands will need to remember to build depth as well as breadth into their voice-activated campaigns—you can’t just set up a voice system and leave it, you have to be ready to answer follow-up questions.

Point-of-sale will become point-of-need

The most successful marketers will develop communication campaigns that won’t talk about their own brands, but instead answer to the in-the-moment needs of Generation Alpha. This audience needs to trust brands as a content provider and resource first, not that they’re being sold to. Building an emotional connection over time builds a personal relationship with the consumer so that the brand not only comes to mind when the consumer needs them, but is also already there.

The brands that will win with Generation Alpha will be ones that build an emotional connection over time. If you’re not seen as meaningful to this audience, then you may as well not exist. If you’d like to learn more about how you can future proof your business, read the full report here.

Laura Macdonald
Laura Macdonald is SVP and Head of Consumer at Hotwire.