We are in the midst of a generational landmark as "Generation Connected" begins to enter the workforce. What makes them different?
For years, businesses were fixated to understand the "Millennials" (or Generation Y).
Before that, there was Generation X, or the “the MTV Generation.”
Today, the consumer landscape is changing again. GenZ and GenAlpha have a strong influence on consumer trends today. Genz, already in their early 20s, accounted for more than 20 million voters in the recent US elections of 2021. Brands need to consider them in long-term strategies as within a span of 4 years Gen Alpha will outnumber the Baby Boomers and by the end of the 2020s, they will be moving into adulthood, paying taxes, and voting. It is important for brands to consider that in 10 years, Gen Alpha, Gen Z, and Millennials will account for the majority of the population.
Born into a world where intelligent devices have blurred the boundaries between physical and digital, these new generations are emerging with exponential spending power and impact on business strategies. Their borderless world has shaped their behavior where they are accustomed to making decisions at the touch of a button.
Connected to the World
Gen-Z is the first generation that grew up with a smartphone unlike any of their predecessors. Holding a purchasing power of $44 billion, they are already exerting influence over household family spending and shopping behavior. There is really no difference between their online and offline life. The digital world is where they interact, shop and express. In fact, 54 percent of Gen Z are friends with someone they only know online and have never met in person.
My French teacher tells me that he used to practice spoken language lessons by playing recordings in a loop. Today, I can just access an app membership where I can video call and speak to any person around the globe to practice any language. The exponential growth of technology has led to an accelerated parting between generations.
Influencing the Trends
The influence of Gen Z—the first generation of true digital natives—is expanding. US Research suggests that four out of five (81 percent) Gen Alpha kids significantly influence family purchases. They are more likely to shop online rather than going to stores. The in-app purchases, subscription services, and digital content for Gen Z are also increased. These are more withdrawn to personalized experiences. So, brands cannot be ignorant about them in short term as well.
For Gen Z and increasingly for older generations as well consumption means having access to products or services, not necessarily owning them. As access becomes the new form of consumption, unlimited access to goods and services (such as car-riding services, video streaming, and subscriptions) creates value. Products become services, and services connect consumers giving foundation to the sharing economy.
In continuation with the behavioral pattern, the younger generation - Gen Alpha - has already made a remarkable influence over culture. Companies did not usually start evaluating their consumer standpoint until a generation reaches teenage. However, Gen Alpha has more spending influence than any earlier pre-adolescent generation. Gen Z made its online presence by creating personal brands on social media. While Gen Alpha with early access to social networks like Instagram and Youtube are influencing trends.
The contribution of a brand to social causes matters greatly to Gen Z and the same goes for Gen Alpha. While consumerism thrived in the previous era, the impetus on eco-consciousness is ruling brand conversations today. Social conversations such as gender equality, diversity and inclusion, or responsible sourcing are becoming increasingly important. Victoria's Secret have let go their "angels" for a new program VS Collective bringing together women achievers from different backgrounds.
“This newest American generation displays unprecedented diversity in almost every dimension one can examine ― ethnicity, nativity, income, family arrangements, you-name-it.”
- Elwood Carlson, Demographer and Professor of Sociology
The lives and outlook of Gen-Z and Gen Alpha will be defined by the technologies that emerge in the next decade—think AI, robots, voice control—as well as shifting political and societal norms. To get a head start, adopt technology and get closer to your audience. Understand them and their beliefs to tailor your products and services.
Shriya Madan, an ardent learner, a digital enthusiast, aspires to make an impact in the real world with the power of technology
Pranjali Apurva, driven by curiosity, converging design principles with digital transformation