Technically, Gen Alpha represents consumers born between 2010 and 2025, which means some members of the generation are yet to be born. In another way, they represent the children of the Millennial and the older Gen Z which deeply have many social and economic implications that may affect the market and consumption behaviours of the generation.
A typical Gen Alpha is between ages 0 to 13 as of today.
Gen Alpha is a strategic population or consumers in marketing decisions, but many organisations neglect or do not give the bracket due attention based on seemingly untenable reasons e.g. they don’t command economic power, parents’ apron strings, and largely users and not deciders.
Truly, this may appear so at face value, but deeply the generation represents a potential segment in every family’s buying decision process, societal and state future generation plans and individual parents’ buying behaviours.
A comparison of a Millennial or Gen Y’s upbringing as toddlers with today’s Gen Alpha is two poles apart from the social and economic perspectives, which informed marketing decisions and strategies of the yester years.
For instance, Bata Cortina shoes were generational for any family that could afford them in that two to three siblings could wear the same pair by passing it to the next generation, likewise with textbooks and some clothes.
Organisations’ decision makers and strategists understood this phenomenon in buying decisions and behaviours, and apparently, they were inherently recognised in decision planning from product development to pricing decisions.
However, this is impracticable today with the Gen Alpha because of their idiosyncrasies and peculiarities that are largely informed by many developments in the market e.g. environment dynamics and media influences.
Recently, studies have appraised and found out that Gen Alpha is a segment that is critical in marketing decisions, especially the operationalisation of marketing Ps.
In a study a few years ago, it was found that Gen Alpha understands opinion leadership in their settings either at a micro level like schools or communities or a celebrity in a global setting. And the opinion leaders always happen to be the most exposed and with reliable information that shapes their buying decisions and behaviours.
In the same vein, they remain the influencing point of celebrities than any other segments in the market. An ongoing study also reveals that Gen Alpha’s influence in a family is both vertical and horizontal depending on the setting; it is vertical in a family and horizontal among peers.
The fact is that, whether the segment members have a fully developed cognitive sense or not, their roles as deciders or users remain strategic in marketing decisions.
For instance, the religious bodies recognise this and they have a special place for them in the cathedral or mosque to worship with a leader who understands their language and peculiarities. Likewise, many businesses who recognise their invaluable strategic roles integrate their consumption behaviours and purchase decisions in the product, marketing communication, branding and pricing decisions.
Traditional marketing decision holds the rule that buying the first car, choice of the family house or apartment, and furnishing and furniture of the house is largely determined by the presence and the number of Gen Alpha in the family be it nuclear or extended family; and socially it is the act of being a responsible father in Nigerian parlance.
Besides, the influence of the segment is becoming deepened and sacrosanct in adult or parents’ purchase decisions and behaviours, and this provides a strategic basis for marketing decisions.
For instance, the clothing of toddlers that are yet to form cognitive sense is more than apparel for kids, the choice, brands and prices add value and recognition to parents’ status, social relevance and societal acceptance.
Parents make choices of residence, schools, etc. firstly, to provide a good environment and network for children from infancy, and secondly to reflect the social class of parents, but the bottom line is the percentage of such expenses on families’ income.
The proverbial 20/30 sharing formula of family income between parents and children is obsolete, and eventually turning to 70/30.
To be continued
Ayo Oniku (PhD) is an Associate Professor of Marketing, at the University of Lagos.