Alpha-Powered Brands: Shaping the Future of Shoppinghttps://consultasg.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/08/kidshopping.jpg1440428ASGASG//consultasg.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/asg_195_WIP-web.png
Wielding their purchasing power and influence on family shopping decisions, Generation Alpha is setting trends and raising expectations for brands. How are these young consumers driving exciting opportunities for retail brands?
Gen Alpha‘s considerable influence on retail brands and the future of shopping stems from their role in family shopping decisions. While they may not have their own income, their influence on their parents’ purchasing decisions is substantial. Generation Alpha is known to be confident and vocal about their preferences, often influencing the brands their parents choose to buy from. Retail brands that understand and cater to the desires and aspirations of this generation can gain their loyalty and win over their parents as well.
If marketers think Gen Z is the most lucrative consumer group today, then it’s time to think again. Generation Alpha (those born from the mid-early 2010s and still being born until the mid-2020s) is tipped to be the wealthiest, most educated and technologically connected demographic of them all.“ – The Drum
Generation Alpha’s emphasis on sustainability and social responsibility is influencing retail brands to adopt more eco-friendly practices. This generation is conscious of the environmental impact of their consumption and expects brands to prioritize sustainability. Retail brands that demonstrate their commitment to social and environmental causes can resonate with Generation Alpha and earn their loyalty.
Gen Alpha’s Spheres of Retail Influence
Generation Alpha is the first truly digital-native generation, born between 2010 and 2025. The oldest Gen Alphas are barely in their teens, but their influence is already being felt throughout food, fashion, and retail. Their distinct shopping habits—from their access to technology and mostly Millennial parents—set them apart from previous generations.
Growing up with not just smartphones and tablets, but also voice-activated assistants, AI, and social influence as a way of life, they have never known a world without technology. As a result, their expectations for the shopping experience are shaped by the convenience and instant gratification that technology provides. Generation Alpha expects seamless digital experiences, personalized recommendations, and fast delivery. They are quick to adapt to new technology and are comfortable using a variety of devices and platforms to make purchases.
Retail brands need to understand and cater to these preferences to effectively engage with this generation. Let’s look at some brands targeting each of the three distinct Alpha age groups: baby, tween, and teen Alphas.
Baby Alphas: Parent-Driven Influence
For baby Alphas, parents (often Millennials) are buying products that align with their values and concerns while introducing the little tikes to brands and products that may carry forward through several stages of development. These products often represent a form of nostalgia for the parent. They’re also looking for products that are non-toxic, reducing pfas (forever chemicals), biodegradable, plant-based, low sugar, and cross-functional.
Results from recent research indicate that companies spend over $16 billion annually on marketing to tap into young children’s $286 billion influence on adult spending, Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. Payne’s book also highlighted findings that children as young as 2 can recognize brands on shelves and that they have recognition of 300-400 brands by age 10.
Brands to Note
Lalo – Lalo was founded by two dads and appeals to parents who want products that work as hard as they do. Lalo’s primary products include a multifunctional highchair, a table and chair play set, and a baby bathtub, along with a variety of accessories. All the products are manufactured using non-toxic EVA and FDA-approved BPA-free plastics.
Little Spoon – Little Spoon appeals to parents of baby and toddler Alphas by providing them with a new approach to food. Using clean, organic ingredients and age-appropriate balanced nutrition with vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian options and the goal of creating health habits from the start.
Lovevery – Lovevery creates toys designed to maximize the neurological development of babies and toddlers. The founders wanted “to help parents by giving them the toys and educational information they needed to help foster babies’ development through play and experiences.” The subscription company ships toys (and flash cards with info about how to use the toys with baby) every two months. Then, once baby turns one, the boxes ship every three months with a selection of activities.
Tween Alphas: Kid Influence Gains Momentum
Instead of earmarking pages in a Sears catalog, these kids have their own Amazon Wishlists and a loud voice in determining where their parents shop, what they buy, and where they eat. They value experiences over products, omnichannel experiences and profiles, meta experiences, and customizable products. Legacy brands are working hard to connect with this group and their parents.
“The way most companies look at consumers is ‘well, who’s got disposable income?’ We don’t look at it that way. We look at who is setting the agenda. Who is the future?” – Nike’s CEO, John Donahoe, told Vogue Business.
Brands to Note:
BusyKid – BusyKid is an app designed to help kids learn to budget and understand the value of money early. Kids earn money from their parents by doing chores, or parents can help enterprising tweens launch their own business. The kids get a Visa Spend Card they can use anywhere Visa is accepted, and parents see every transaction made, so kids and teens can learn how to spend wisely.
ToyBox – ToyBox is “empowering the next generation of young and creative minds by making cool technologies easy to use.” Tapping into a generation used to creating their own content, ToyBox gives kids the chance put together their own toys on the site, which are then 3D printed and shipped to them.
Ziggy Zaza – Ziggy Zaza is an Australian-based fashion retailer that ships worldwide. The sustainable and environmentally conscious brand is “inspired by art, adventure and the wild and wonderful imagination of our children.”
Teen Alphas: Collaborative Purchasing
Throughout history, teens have been an influential consumer group. Remember Beatlemania? When brands can tap into that teen spirit and connect authentically with their target market, they can win big. Just ask billionaire Kylie Jenner, whose cosmetics empire markets directly to the teen girl demographic on social media.
Teen Alphas are influencers who not only have their own spending money, but also collaborate with their parents in making retail decisions, with a larger-than-expected voice in collaborative purchasing and family shopping.
Brands to Note
Roblox – Roblox is a social gaming platform with more than 52 million users, most of whom are under the age of 17. The app lets users play and create games, chat with others online and earn and spend virtual money. The platform also hosts live events like in-game concerts.
Hanna Andersson – Hanna Andersson targets the Alpha generation from infant through age 14 by offering sustainable, organic clothing made for play, with a focus on social responsibility, diversity, and inclusion.
Johnny – Johnny footwear is a Kickstarter company that was successfully funded and features the world’s first shoe that rapidly biodegrades underground and grows into an apple tree.
Harnessing their unparalleled command of technology, these digital natives are orchestrating a transformation in retail, unlike any seen in previous generations. As the cohort continues to grow up, retailers have an opportunity not just to adapt, but to flourish.
Bold Moves: The Evolution of Legacy Brandshttps://consultasg.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/NikeCover.jpg1440428ASGASG//consultasg.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/asg_195_WIP-web.png
Think about legacy brands like Porsche, Lacoste, and Nike. These brands have won a place in the hearts and minds of older consumers, earned over decades of brand-equity building. But what about the younger generations, who are building wealth and gaining spending power? How can established brands earn the loyalty of younger generations of consumers while not taking their brand off the rails?
Changing It Up to Appeal to New Generations is Not New
Brands have always reinvented themselves to be relevant. Just scroll through these ads from the 1920s for a sometimes amusing, sometimes cringeworthy look at marketing to the shoppers of the time. The evolution of fashion has always been driven by the evolution of the consumer. So who are today’s younger consumers, and why are they so appealing to legacy brands?
With the Transfer of Wealth Comes the Transfer of Power
Perhaps more attention is being paid to the efforts of legacy brands now that they have tuned in to how critical it is to capture the younger consumer—and they are going to great lengths to do so. The great wealth transfer currently underway is shifting not just money but also influence to Millennials and Gen Z consumers. As up to $70 trillion dollars in spending power transitions to younger generations, brands not refocusing energy toward capturing this market will go the way of Sears. But it’s easier said than done, as technology rapidly evolves, and today’s shopper demands an omnichannel experience.
Brands Making Bold Moves to Connect to Younger Consumers
Some brands are not waiting for trends to dictate that it’s time to change; they are making dramatic changes to ensure they get the attention of Millennials and Gen Z. For example, Ralph Lauren, a stalwart in fashion since 1967, is turning a keen eye toward attracting fresh customers, designing a new logo designed to “win over Fortnite players.” Their logo has not changed since the company started, but in their new Fortnite Collection, the iconic polo rider sits atop Fortnite’s iconic piñata llama.
With younger generations spending time on VR and in virtual worlds like the metaverse, we are seeing bold new brand interpretations. As a recent Fast Company article says, “Fashion brands go where their customers are, and their customers are increasingly in virtual worlds.” Brands that are accelerating their entry into VR to reach younger generations include Burberry and Balenciaga.
The Future Isn’t the Only Way to Connect with Gen Z
Yes, Gen Z are digital natives who are perfectly comfortable with a phone in their hands—but unlike their Millennial counterparts who live, eat, and breathe online—Gen Z tends to be more old school. Legacy brands can reach Gen Z with compelling stories and a trip down nostalgia lane.
“Balenciaga’s recent pink faux fur-clad London store launch is a knowing celebration of noughties maximalism, while fashion brand Coach built a vintage drive-in cinema for a runway show steeped in nostalgia last year. Throwing it back even further, Old Spice recently launched its own version of a traditional barber shop—paying homage to this beloved pastime with a themed retail space that hosts celebrity barbers on rotation.” – Fast Company
Why so nostalgic? Maybe this generation is longing for what they’ve never known, because their lives have been a staccato of war and pandemic.
“Nostalgia is making its way into how we spend our free time via streaming and social media. Metallica and Kate Bush are currently topping charts, each with songs released nearly 40 years ago. While many would attribute it to their recent airtime on Stranger Things / Tik Tok, we believe it’s something more significant. For many, this is their first introduction to these artists, leading a charge of discovery into a category of music and culture that many never experienced. It’s almost as if these songs were brand new.” – Chute Gerdeman
What Legacy Brands Must Get Right
Whether legacy brands get futuristic or nostalgic as a way to connect with younger generations depends on what works best with their brand and the young people they wish to reach. What does matter more than approach is the authenticity of the connection. If a brand is obviously just making a play for profit, trust us, Gen Z will see right through it. They want real connection and meaning. If you ask a Gen Zer what it takes to connect with them (and we did), here’s what they say:
“Be affordable. Be present. Be worthwhile.”
This generation is careful about what they spend and where. That’s why accessible luxury has been such a successful way to reach the audience. Everything is an experience. And if the legacy brand is not online and in person, forget it. They aren’t going to come looking.
Brands Inspiring Our Team Right Nowhttps://consultasg.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/header-Brands_Inspire_Us_1440.jpg1440428ASGASG//consultasg.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/asg_195_WIP-web.png
We love working with brands, and we’re constantly inspired by the brand landscape around us. We gathered some team members to share their insight into the brands that are moving them today and why.
Andrew Miller – Woolrich
Established in 1830: Born in Woolrich Pennsylvania- the brand equipped those with a passion for outdoors. “The Original Outdoor Clothing Company” is what they call themselves.
Woolrich has produced high-quality garments for over 190 years. Crafting fine and warm wool is their calling, and their mills have lent a helping hand during major historical moments. Woolrich made a big contribution by supplying socks, blankets, and coats to the US soldiers providing them warmth, comfort and quality during American civil war and WW1.
Being a native from PA and Woolrich within 20 minutes to my hometown – Woolrich was a brand growing up that I was educated on by my family. My great grandparents/ and grandparents always sporting their product. I’m grateful that I was gifted by my grandparents, jackets, socks, shirts growing up for holidays and birthdays which grew my interest and introducing me even closer to the brand. To this day and understanding the Woolrich brand given the history, quality, plus their mission makes a difference even more valuable when you understand what you are wearing. – to this day these are high quality pieces that I enjoy wearing time to time when the elements are right.
VALUES American Heritage: Keeping true to their products and quality- mirroring the American dream: wear Woolrich to pursue your goals, regardless of the elements.
Iconic brand elements: The Buffalo Check, whose name was inspired by a herd of buffalo owned by the Woolrich designer who developed its distinctive red and black pattern, has been a symbol for Americana and workwear since its inception, and remains one of Woolrich’s most powerful visual codes from season to season.
Purposeful design: Their Product character is pure, considered, consistent. Woolrich collections embody a design sensibility of stylish durability. They unlock the privilege of a life lived outdoors- in nature and urban environments, and anything in-between.
Brand Mission/ Values:
Woolrich is committed to putting social responsibility at the forefront of everything they do. As a brand and company, they are committed to making a positive impact on the world around us, including by taking a respectful approach to their stakeholder relationships, encouraging environmental awareness, and promoting ethical business practices.
Diversity and inclusion
Woolrich outdoor foundation
Code of ethics
Morecia – Linkedin
When I think of a brand that inspires me, I instantly think of something I use daily. In our society, social media presents us not only as a form of entertainment, but a great way to connect with people and keep up with hot topics and trends. Millions of people can connect with their relatives, lifelong friends, and even business professionals through social media. So, if you’re looking to network, LinkedIn is a great platform! Their mission is simple; to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. I have personally connected with hundreds of people from different professions, from business to even healthcare. LinkedIn also is great for creating a space where professionals can reach out to you with job offers in fields that you may be qualified for. Having this social media presents on LinkedIn gave me the opportunity to meet with several hiring managers and that’s how I landed a job with Asset Strategies Group. I would highly recommend using LinkedIn, it’s a leading social media brand, it’s easily accessible, and you can make great connections with many different people.
Max – Gibson
I’m really digging Gibson Guitars right now. They already pull on my heartstrings as a musician… but they’ve taken their brand to another level. Gibson recently opened up a best-in-class retail experience, the Gibson Garage, loaded with exclusive products, events and even a chance to build your dream guitar. So they’re totally winning the retail thing. Not to mention they’ve really invested in their content production team, and they’re telling these amazing stories that guitar junkies (like myself) salivate over. Like all great brands, there’s a story to know and tell, and I feel that same sentiment with my guitars. I remember sinking every penny I had into my first Gibson, and it’s paid it’s worth back in priceless fashion ever since.
Zach – Homer
Homer is a luxury jewelry and accessory brand founded by Frank Ocean in 2018, starting commercially in 2021. The brand is constantly on the front end of avant-garde design, from catalogs to social media marketing, utilizing unconventional techniques and art to market the line. Homer also has a unique way of launching their collections: each collection is unannounced and launched randomly alongside pop-up stores appearing in big cities for an in-person experience. Homer’s products are very expensive, but having unannounced launches with limited product lends the brand a more curated touch rather than being strictly exclusive. The beautiful design behind the brand, combined with the sporadic launches that tend to be few and far between, give a one-of-a-kind, curated feel to the products provided.
Olivia – Dr. Martens
I’m not really brand loyal to anything and just don’t buy corporate speak, so there are few brands I really “connect” to. But my one ride-or-die brand is Dr. Martens. It’s been that way since I got my first pair when I was 14, which is wild that it was 10 years ago! I fell in love with the brand and the product when I put that first pair on. I love everything about them, honestly—the attitude they bring, authenticity, durability, and how they are still that classic work boot that they started off as. They’re still that same work boot that was designed in the 60s, but they have history and ties with the music industry and counterculture, and they’re inherently cool. The brand always does its own thing and has always been authentic to themselves. They know who they are and take pride in the product and history that they have. And I really connect with that because I have always done my own thing, authentic to myself. Dr. Martens were the first thing that I found that felt like it “fit” my style, that and my winged eyeliner, of course, so the brand is pretty special to me. Dr. Martens is an icon for a reason, and I’m sure it means something different to everyone, but those are just a handful of reasons why I admire it!
Also! It is so true how awful they are to break in! But they are so worth it because they are the most comfortable and dependable pair of shoes you’ll own. 😊 Another fun fact, I still have my first pair, and they are beat to hell, but are still perfect work boots, lol.
Steve Morris – Abercrombie & Fitch
Abercrombie & Fitch – a brand that was built on a cult of exclusivity to a total transformation to a brand that embraces inclusivity. Over the past decade, we’ve seen the brand change dramatically, from its image to its product and, ultimately, the store experience. That’s a lot of change, and for them to find success across each channel deserves some credit!
Louis So – Lego
Lego is my brand of choice. I got my 1st set of Legos from my parents when I was in kindergarten back in the 70s. Flash forward to modern times, where I can give my daughter her 1st Lego set years later. And, of course, it was nice, given that this was the 1st Lego set I bought for one of my own.
Lego continues to give us opportunities to build and foster our own imagination. Every block we touch is special, and we continue to build & tear them down repeatedly. Each Lego block allows our memories of imagination in the past, present, and future to visit us again. Lego brings us together, and it doesn’t matter where we tend to use them. Whether we build on the family dining table, on a car trip, on the living room carpet, a hospital bed with our kids, parents, grandparents, or friends, there will always be a place for Legos. Legos give us a way to heal, to love, to share, to collaborate, and most importantly, imagine.
The brand doesn’t stop at home either, as Lego continues to evolve into tons of activations. Legoland theme Park, Lego House, Lego Discover Center, Lego Retail Store, Lego Clothing, Lego life, Lego Education etc.. you get the point.
Got a brand you’d love to share with us?
Send us a message and share some insight into your inspirations.