Decoding generational buying behaviours


April 4, 2023 | By RetailME Bureau

Decoding generational buying behaviours

Around two in five younger consumers make regular impulse purchases, indicates GWI.

41% of Generation Z or Zoomers (born between 1997 and 2012) and Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) make an impulse purchase online every two-three weeks, rising to 48% among daily TikTok users and dropping to 10% among Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964).

Younger audiences start their search from a place of curiosity and expect new ideas and interaction, rather than being directed to brands and/or products.

While Gen Z are more likely to buy online than Baby Boomers, they are less likely to describe purchasing as a top benefit of the internet (25% vs 44%). Instead, community/interests are worth a whole lot more (23% vs 10%).

Younger consumers tend to engage in impulse buying for a wider range of reasons including recommendations from their online community, flexible payment options as well as convenience.

But aren’t we missing a cohort?

The Generation Alpha!

Generation Alpha: Who are they?

Those born between 2010 and 2024 (inclusive) belong to Generation Alpha. A term coined by Mark McCrindle, a Social Researcher, Author and Founder of McCrindle.

Just over a decade ago, it became apparent that a new generation was about to commence and there was no name for them. As a researcher with a keen interest in generational analysis, McCrindle decided to test a few names out with a survey, and he shared exclusive insights about this cohort with RetailME.

“When we asked people what they thought the next generation should be called, many people suggested Generation A, having come to the end of the alphabet with Generation Z. But Generation Alpha represent a whole new generation, entirely born in a new century. Going back to the beginning didn’t feel right for this next generation. Additionally, this was the period just after the Atlantic hurricane season of 2005 when there were so many storms that the normal alphabetic names had been used up. For the first time the Greek alphabet was used, starting with hurricane alpha and hurricane beta etc. So, in keeping with this scientific naming of using the Greek alphabet in lieu of the Latin, and having worked our way through Generations X, Y and Z, I settled on the next cohort being Generation Alpha – not a return to the old, but the start of something new,” McCrindle explained.

A global, tech literate generation

Alphas are the first generation fully born in this new millennium and so they are the first to be fully shaped in a global culture. While brands, technologies, music and movies have been borderless for some time, for Alphas their social media contacts, video games competitors, newsfeed and playlists are truly global.

In a world of TikTok, K-pop, WeChat and Manga the popular culture shaping today’s children is as likely to flow from East to West as the other way around. Whether using VPNs to stream shows from their preferred location or learning in a global classroom where lessons and participants are brought in from afar, more than any before them, this is a global generation.

Generation Alpha are digital, visual, global and mobile. As the first generation fully born in the 21st century they haven’t known a world without technology and social media, whereas the older part of the Generation Z cohort will remember a time before these devices and platforms. They are digital natives, the most materially endowed and technologically literate generation so far.

“We predict to see Generation Alpha as more virtual than digital with the rise of the metaverse taking place in their formative years and many already operating in early prototypes of it (such as Minecraft, Roblox and Fortnite),” McCrindle observed.

“Technology has and will continue to change how we and Generation Alpha communicate. It’s a world of ‘screenagers’ where not only do they multi-screen and multi-task, but glass has become the new medium for content dissemination. Unlike the medium of paper, it is kinaesthetic, visual, interactive, connective and still portable. Glass was something that Gen Ys were told to look through and keep their fingers off. For Gen Alpha glass is a medium they touch, talk, and look at.”

How Generation Alpha influence purchase decisions

Although Generation Alpha are young, they are already influencing the purchasing decisions that their parents make.

“In one of our studies, we found that 80% of parents of Generation Alpha said they had their actions or consumption decisions influenced to be more environmentally aware by their Generation Alpha children. Generation Alpha children are holding their parents to account about using plastics, reusable cups and doing their part for their environment. They are also driving decisions about what shows they watch or activities they do as a family,” McCrindle shared.

The generations before Alpha have been “marketed” to so frequently and from so many different angles that there’s a savviness to them, which will be emulated by Generation Alpha. This new generation will, in general, make decisions based on peer recommendations, social media influencers and their personal values.

Passionate about environment, inclusivity, authenticity

As they grow up, they will also be looking at companies’ social responsibility because they want the companies they interact with to ‘do the right thing’. A company that has eco-friendly credentials can help increase consumer trust by showing Generation Alpha and their parents that they are environmentally and socially responsible to engage with this generation for whom this is important.

“We can expect Generation Alpha to be passionate about their family, the environment inclusivity and authenticity. Having been formed in the years of the pandemic where the world spent copious amounts of time at home, their family will be important to them as they grow up. As the world continues to bring focus to climate change and sustainability, this will be important to Generation Alpha. Additionally, Generation Alpha will be one of the most diverse generations we have seen to date, and so will expect to see representation and inclusivity in the places they operate – in schools, online and in TV shows and videos games as well as in their workplaces of the future,” McCrindle concluded.

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