Lessons learned from my generation alpha consumer

Born beginning in 2010, Generation Alpha kids influence major household purchases.

As a millennial mom of a kid in the coveted Generation Alpha demographic that brands are working to woo even though the bulk of the target audience is still in diapers, I see why marketers are bullish about our babies. This demo illustrates exactly why more and more CMOs are increasingly putting experiences in the center of their marketing mixes.

On recent trips to the Natural History Museum and the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, I delighted in watching my 18-month-old son push buttons to make motors run and engage with dinosaur footprints with wonder. This child who is entertained at home by pushing buttons on our Dyson to watch how dust swirls perpetually gives me consumer perspective. By touching, engaging, and taking time to experience new wonders, my guy illustrates the glee that comes from new experiences and discoveries.

My son’s wide eyes and excited screams of joy at racing cars or engaging with dinosaurs brought to life via the latest tech tools provides a birds-eye view to this strategic planner about the power of experiences.

Not only did the word car become part of Ellis’ growing vocabulary after our trip to Petersen, so did his desire to have our next family automobile be the color blue. Sure, that was the color of the car he controlled at the museum, so it makes sense that is what he now knows and wants.

In a 2018 Forrester Consulting report commissioned by Adobe, it was revealed that "customer experience has quickly moved from a competitive differentiator to a business imperative." The study found that 80 percent of business decision makers indicated that improving customer experience was a top priority. Consumer loyalty comes from great experiences, so the commitment to upping interactions makes perfect sense.

Consumers are inundated with marketers vying for attention. Thus, we have understandably become a bit jaded. We often put blinders on to navigate clutter. Watching Ellis play and learn and take time to enjoy curated experiences provided me with important marketing 101 reminders. Interruptions must be authentic and worthy of consumer time. Shoppers are excited by the prospect of being engaged and very willing to try new experiences. But they must be worthy of their time. Good juju will come from brands that delight and inspire. Bad experiences can easily backfire.

Daily grinds often lead to routines that have us working to finish tasks so we can live our lives. Incorporating life more into our work will up our delivery in both arenas. Ellis reminded me about the importance of taking time to change our perspective. Instead of brainstorming with my teams in the confines of conference rooms, I’m starting to curate field trips that will allow us all to make new discoveries in unexpected places. Good experiences lead to loyalty.

Trust me. I know. I can’t count the number of hours I’ve spent hunting for an old model of blue Nike’s that my son adores. It’s the only shoe he’ll wear so I regularly scour discount stores hoping to find and stock up on various sizes of his beloved sneaker. My creative and passionate Leo is also stubborn and inflexible at times. This California kid knows what he likes and what he doesn’t. He devours strawberries from our local farmers market. He won’t even touch those that come from Whole Foods.

Through the eyes of my Generation Alpha, it’s clear that consumers will immediately discard brands that deliver "been there, done that" experiences.

Born beginning in 2010, Generation Alpha kids influence major household purchases. Futurist, demographer, and TEDx speaker Mark McCrindle coined the phrase and estimates that 2.5 million Gen Alphas are born around the globe each week. With 2025 as the last year Gen Alphas will be born, that’s one powerful consumer group. Most Alpha kids are seemingly born knowing how to use smart phones and other leading tech gadgets. My son’s screen time is extremely limited by design. Yet, he knows how to open my phone find photos of himself and other family members he adores in my library.

My young power broker will undoubtedly continue to drive our family’s purchasing decisions. While that seems a bit strange as a mom, as a brand steward I get it. Brand loyalty starts young and gets exponentially more solidified over time through great experiences. Thanks to Ellis, I’m learning new lessons on reaching the influencers who matter. With the L.A. Nature Fest about to launch at the Natural History Museum, I’m excited about the lessons I’ll soon learn from my son’s experience with falcons, owls, opossums, and reptiles. While Ellis has a huge say in our democratic household, I assure you the raptors are staying at the museum!

Shannon Pfeffer is the lead brand strategist at Midnight Oil.

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