Let's talk about the Gen Alpha consumer
The new kids on the block are digitally savvy and incredibly diverse—and they’re coming of age in a hurry.
Say hello to Gen Alpha.
Named by futurist Mark McCrindle, Generation Alpha represents the first cohort of people born entirely in the 21st century. The “oldest” Gen Alpha members will turn 13 this year. By the end of 2024, it’s estimated that there will be more than 2.2 billion Alphas worldwide, making it the largest generation yet.
So, what do we already know about them?
Well, even though they’re still kids, they’re already giving us key insights into how they may live, work, and shop in the future. Read on to learn more about Gen Alpha and see how some brands are already pivoting their eCommerce marketing strategies to meet their future wants and needs.
What are the Gen Alpha years?
If you’re wondering, “Wait, didn’t we just get done talking about Gen Z?,” you’d be right. Gen Alpha is the generation that comes immediately after Gen Z. Here’s a rough breakdown of the three most recent generations:
Ages in 2023
1981 - 1996
27 - 42
1997 - 2012
11 - 25
2013* - 2025
0 - 10
* Some sources put the starting year as 2010
Which characteristics define Generation Alpha right now?
While there’s a fine line age-wise between the youngest Gen Z’ers and the oldest Alphas, members of Gen Alpha aren’t just a younger version of Gen Z.
In fact, it’s a good bet that they’ll be more aligned with millennials than with the Gen Z consumer. That’s because Gen Alpha is the first generation raised by millennial parents, leading some experts to call them “mini-Millennials”.
The oldest Alphas were born just two years after the iPad and Instagram were launched. That makes them pure digital natives, immersed in a culture where social media and AI already exist, and the metaverse is on the rise.
Another differentiator: Alphas didn’t just choose to use technology. Instead, they had to rely on their devices to learn, play, and communicate with peers when COVID-19 caused months-long (and, in some regions, years-long) lockdowns globally.
Gen Alpha’s shared experiences during the pandemic have presumably given them a deeper and richer appreciation for all types of technology. They saw how Zoom helped them connect with classmates, how Roblox allowed them to spend time with their friends, and how TikTok introduced them to diverse cultures and new perspectives.
As a result, Gen Alpha looks at technology far differently than any other generation before them. They want to engage with it, improve it, and personalize it. They’re growing up in a world where they can create their own identity via an avatar—and explore both real and virtual worlds with their electronic devices. They will inevitably expect these types of interactive experiences as they enter their teenage years and adulthood.
But technology isn’t the only Gen Alpha differentiator. This generation will blaze its own trail in several ways. Consider:
They want to be educated - 43% of Alphas already say it’s important to go to college, leading some experts to predict they’ll be the most educated generation yet.
They’re gender-neutral - 58% of Alphas under age 10 say gender is irrelevant.
They’re bold and brave - One in five Alphas between ages five and nine have already been on a march or protest in support of causes they believe in.
They’re future-focused - 65% of Alphas starting school will work in jobs that don’t exist today, likely in emerging industries such as AI and blockchain technology.
They believe in causes beyond themselves - Over 60% want to protect people from bullying, while others advocate for climate change—two topics that are common kitchen-table conversations for them and their families.
Alphas will also represent the most diverse generation in history, according to U.S. Census data. That means they will likely hold brands to higher standards when it comes to inclusivity. And, having survived the pandemic, many inherently know the importance of putting their physical and mental health first.
What does the future hold for Generation Alpha and eCommerce?
Right now, Generation Alpha doesn’t have any disposable income. But if you want a glimpse into what their shopping habits might look like, consider the habits of their parents.
A decade ago, people began calling millennials the “experience generation” after studies showed that 78% of them would rather spend money on an experience instead of a physical item. Now, as millennials become parents to Alphas, they’re forming tight bonds with their kids, and they want to share experiences together.
Those experiences spill over into the retail world. A whopping 81% of millennial parents in the U.S. say their children influenced their last purchase. Another 70% of millennial parents say they’ve made purchases related to their child’s favorite character or show. Clearly, Gen Alpha is already influencing eCommerce buying decisions, even though they can’t reach into their wallets just yet.
Where and how will Gen Alpha buy once they grow into adulthood? More than likely, they’ll buy both online and in-store. While two out of every three children ages eight to 11 has access to a smartphone, 75% of kids today also say they like the experience of going to a physical retail store. That means retailers with an omnichannel retail strategy already have a good head start on what it will take to meet Alphas’ future needs.
How are brands connecting with Gen Alpha now?
Major brands that sell children’s products have already found innovative ways to connect with Gen Alphas and their parents. These initiatives are aimed at parents, not kids (various rules prohibit direct marketing to children ages 12 and under).
However, they offer an interesting glimpse into current successful eCommerce content marketing strategies and how they could have long-term staying power.
Walmart partners with Ryan’s World
If you haven’t heard of Ryan Haji, you will soon. At age 10, he’s Gen Alpha’s first breakout star. He launched Ryan’s World on YouTube during the pandemic. Now, his channel boasts an astonishing 34.1 million subscribers geared toward younger Alphas (kids ages two to six).
Having recognized Haji’s incredible presence, Walmart now carries its own line of Ryan’s World-themed toys and apparel. In all, merchandise sales have helped Ryan’s World generate an estimated $250 million in revenue.
Kids Foot Locker launches physical and virtual concept stores
Last year, Kids Foot Locker opened its first brick-and-mortar House of Play concept stores in Miami and Dallas as a way to give millennial parents (and their Alpha children) an interactive experience.
These stores feature an array of immersive experiences, including murals designed to help youngsters create their own TikTok- and Instagram-worthy experiences. The brand has since upped its game, opened a virtual House of Play store inside Roblox.
Brands of all sizes embrace inclusivity and sustainability
From major retailers to small businesses, brands are connecting themselves to causes that matter to Gen Alpha and their parents. For example, in 2021, The Lego Group launched its first Lego brick made from recycled plastic. Its ultimate goal: To make all of its products from sustainable materials by 2030.
Also in 2021, major apparel retailer PacSun launched its first fully dedicated gender-neutral kids clothing brand, catching onto a trend that started with many smaller and mid-size retailers.
One small business that paved the way for higher levels of inclusivity is A Tribe Called Queer. Started by creative Sabine Maxine Lopez, the company sells a line of gender-neutral, size-inclusive clothing and accessories designed to help spark conversation.
The company’s goal is to empower BIPOC and LGBTQIA25+ communities, as well as generate authentic discussions about mental health and provide a safe place for all identities. Sabine recently transitioned the company from a small business to a community-based nonprofit organization to make a stronger impact.
How should your brand engage with Gen Alpha today (if at all)?
Whether or not your online eCommerce website sells children’s products, it’s a safe bet that you’ll interact with members of Gen Alpha in the next five to 10 years. So, now is the perfect time to start pivoting your online business toward the future and implement new ways to deepen your brand’s customer engagement. Six ways to do so:
01. Build a strong brand story
Like their millennial parents, Alphas will likely look to support brands whose beliefs align with their own. If your company participates in social causes, let your customers know. Share what you’re doing and why.
Brands that integrate this type of cause marketing strategy into their operations often benefit from improved customer retention and strong brand loyalty. But best of all, they’re showing that they’re doing the right thing.
02. Offer sustainable products
From beauty products to food items, Gen Alpha is likely to dive into the details of their purchases. They’ll likely seek assurance that you’re using the safest and highest-quality ingredients. They’ll also look for brands that use the most ethical practices in obtaining raw materials. By focusing on sustainable eCommerce practices, you can better show your authenticity and commitment to building a better world.
03. Embrace inclusivity
Look for ways to infuse a deeper level of diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your company, your advertising, and your product offering.
04. Sell both physical and digital products
Fifty-five percent of kids ages six to 16 today would rather buy or download something digitally than own a physical product, according to a survey from communications firm Wunderman Thompson.
If these trends carry over into Alphas’ adulthood, then online stores that offer both physical and digital products could be best positioned to win their business. Consider offering Items like online courses, eBooks, or music that complement your current product mix.
05. Dive into personalization
When they’re gaming or interacting online, Alphas like to express their creativity. They’re already using platforms like Roblox to create their own avatars and build their own worlds.
So, it’s safe to say that Alphas will expect a higher degree of eCommerce personalization from the brands they support. A few strategies to try: sell customizable products, or offer personalized product recommendations that result in a more unique shopping experience.
06. Up your experience game
Many retailers are already launching or enhancing their loyalty programs and infusing them with members-only experiences, such as exclusive offers and unique shopping events.
Consider ways that you can create buzz on channels that Gen Alphas frequent. Tactics could include creating digital experiences on metaverse platforms or partnering with AI influencers.
Expand your reach to shoppers of all generations
Generation Alpha represents an incredible future opportunity for retail businesses of all sizes. But you can take steps right now to attract and retain shoppers across all generations.
Make your job easier with Wix. Tap into Wix’s built-in tools for multichannel selling, marketing, and more.
Editor, Wix eCommerce
Allison is the editor for the Wix eCommerce blog, with several years of experience reporting on eCommerce news, strategies, and founder stories.