What you need to know about the next generations of consumers

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The way we experience things is constantly changing and adaptation is necessary to build a future-proof business. If you want to look to the future, the best option is, and always will be, to look to the younger generation.

Generation Z (ages 10-25) and our younger Gen Alpha siblings (not all born yet) already make up a third of the US population. Some of us already know how to make our own money, while many of us we still depend on our parents, but we all know how to spend it. Meeting us is an intelligent decision.

So let’s start with Gen Z, which is my generation. Here are some things you need to know:

Related: Two Influential Gen Zers Explain How To Market To Young Consumers

Generation Z: a ​​brief guide

Empowered with influence:

We are the first generation to be born totally post-internet. Ninety-five percent of us have had smartphones since the age of 12, and we spend a large part of our lives on social media. The platforms we like (Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok) have as much to do with creating as they consume.

As digital natives, our first instinct is not just to be observant, but to engage with brands we love. We know that the world now runs on the Internet, so with any mobile device, you can enter the game. That means you shouldn’t treat us as passive consumers. If you engage us and stand out with your product, we will become advocates for your brand.

Cynical but understanding:

Most of our parents are Gen X-ers. We are masters at detecting BS in the digital realm because it is our territory. Therefore, anything that appears to be fake or inauthentic will be ignored.

We are not as sensitive or impractical as you think we are. We understand that all people and all brands make mistakes. We care about what you do as a company, and if you make a mistake, we just hope you own up to it. If you are authentic and transparent, we will know and respond. Our dollars are votes, and when we buy your product, we see it as a reflection of our values.

Independent but community oriented:

Because our lives are digital, my generation is also the most socially isolated. All of us who had to stay home from school during the pandemic obviously had a hard time. We have learned to go it alone, but we also long for community and experiences we missed.

This is a double-edged sword for prospective employers. On the one hand, the workplace is a community and can be an attraction. On the other hand, my generation is mastering the art of the concert and the hustle. It’s much easier to own your own business in the builder economy.

That means work-life balance is non-negotiable, hybrid work should be the norm, and workplaces should be somewhere we want to hang out. Perks like free meals are a bonus, but also the chance to develop and grow long-term (in a way we couldn’t do online alone) could well be a deal breaker. My Gen Z friends fit into two categories: those who jump from one job to another and those who seek the best opportunities. No one is settling in.

Forward-thinking but nostalgic:

If you noticed the #y2k hashtag popping up and wondered why, it’s because we Zoomers don’t just care about the future. Perhaps this is due to an idealized view of the good old days, but the early 2000s are, for some reason, a time period that fascinates us.

Companies have been able to build on this nostalgia by bringing back retro styles and products, like camcorders and flip phones. I have to admit that I recently realized that wired headphones are better than AirPods. Not everything new is better. You may have also heard how demand for Ugg boots increased by 525% when a TikToker posted a video of a pair he had modified.

That’s decentralized R&D, courtesy of Gen Z. Get on it and keep an eye on how people are using your product.

Not digital but phygital:

Just as we’re not just concerned about the future, it’s not just about being online either. Unlike millennials, who care less about “things” and more about experiences, we are interested in tangible objects. In a world where digital is often the same as free, non-digital has a more valuable and exclusive vibe. It’s also easier to stand out when you have something that can’t be copied at the click of a button.

When it comes to doing day-to-day shopping, we buy online, but we will go to physical stores for important and luxury purchases. If you’re going to make a significant investment, it makes sense to check it out in person. Therefore, physical stores are not dead, at least on our watch. You can ask any luxury watch dealer, but most of them are out of stock.

Related: 3 Marketing Lessons I Learned From My Digital Native Children

Alpha Generation: What do we know?

People are curious what changes the next generation will make to the game, myself included. I think it’s a bit early to judge, since most of the Alpha Generation are still children, and their priorities will probably change as they get older.

With that being said, there are a few things we can continue on:

  • His parents are millennials: Unlike previous generations, millennials probably won’t need to rely as much on their children to guide them digitally and are already smart enough to control what they can do or are exposed to. We may see the habits and preferences of millennials being passed on, and some of the previous trends reversed. So don’t throw away your old market research; it may be valuable again in a few years.

  • They will build the future: I mean this literally. Gen Alpha, like my partner Danny’s son Tyler, has already built a lot of virtual worlds in Minecraft and spent a lot of Robux. Gen Alpha will come of age when technology like AR, VR, and blockchain take world-building out of the realm of gaming and into the mainstream economy. Danny and I are working to help businesses prepare for this future. And their future builders will be biased towards Gen Alpha.

  • They like the outdoors As with shopping, not everything goes in one direction. Gen Alpha, of course, clocks up some serious screen time (around 4 hours and 44 minutes per day). But just like all the children before them, they also like to play outside. So while they experience things that previous generations never thought of, some things never changed at all.

Did all of that leave you a bit confused? I’ll break it down for you. Gen Z and Gen Alpha have been forced to become more independent by circumstances beyond their control and are deeply invested in their games and entertainment. We accept the change and look forward to updates on our products and services.

Embrace change, welcome the future, and prepare for what comes next. The Beta Generation is just around the corner.

Related: 4 Unconventional Ways to Better Market to Gen Z

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