Advertising to Gen Alpha and Gen Z: Why it Matters, and Tips for Success

08.10.2023 Sara Brasfield3 min

It’s time to recycle your jokes about young, naive millennials: all of a sudden, millennials are raising kids and approaching middle age, while Gen Z has quietly started entering the workforce.

Not far behind is Generation Alpha. While the oldest members of Gen Alpha are just now approaching their teenage years, this consumer group is going to pose unique needs and challenges for every kind of business.

For apparel, entertainment and retail businesses, kid consumers are already a target audience—but it won’t be long until these consumers grow up and become patrons of businesses across virtually every industry. When they do, this generation of more than two billion global people will represent the largest generation in history, giving them unprecedented economic influence.

With each generation comes unique advertising and marketing challenges, including evolving consumer priorities and different ways those individuals want to connect with brands. Better advertising and marketing starts with first understanding the unique characteristics of Generation Alpha and Gen Z, and then employing best practices to improve your engagement with these consumers.

What Gen Z Consumers are Looking for in Brands

More than any other generation before it, Gen Z is conscious of how their spending is aligned with their personal values. As a result, they want to do business with brands that reflect those values and offer support around issues that matter most to a Gen Z audience.

According to a March 2023 survey of Gen Z consumers, certain values carry greater weight than others when it comes to evaluating brands and the values they uphold. The most common cause for support Gen Z consumers care about is mental health: 53 percent of Gen Z survey participants said a brand’s values related to mental health issues are likely to affect where they spend their money.

Close behind, at 47 percent, were “the environment/climate change and sustainability” and “racial and gender equity.” Ethical labor practices, LGBTQ+ rights, and civil engagement also ranked as high priorities for Gen Z.

Comparing Generation Alpha vs. Gen Z

While experts may disagree slightly in drawing a line between Gen Alpha and Gen Z, the most commonly accepted Generation Alpha years range begins in 2012—which means some of these consumers may still be babies or yet to be born.

Still, the oldest members of this generation are headed to middle school. Time will tell whether they’re as conscious in their consumer choices as Generation Z, but in the meantime we already know a lot about this generation based on the world into which they’ve been born.

One of the most important Generation Alpha characteristics is their mobile-centric upbringing. Insider Intelligence estimates more than 8.8 Gen Alpha smartphone users by the end of this year, accounting for more than 17 percent of the Gen Alpha population. With 36 million Gen Alphas online, this young generation has already eclipsed the total internet users in the 12-to-17 and 18-to-24 age brackets.

Experts also expect Gen Alpha to be the most diverse in U.S. history. An estimated 26 of the percent of this generation identify as Hispanic, while seven percent will identify as multi-racial—more than double the percentage found in the general U.S. population.

Best Practices for Gen Z Advertising

It’s easy to lump Gen Z and Gen Alpha together in discussing how trends among younger consumers will shape the advertising and marketing landscape. But when it comes to actually creating campaigns targeted to these generations, each generation requires a unique, tailored approach.

Here are the top recommendations for creating ad campaigns for a Gen Z audience:

  • Embrace value-based messaging. Instead of ignoring certain topics or attempting to remain neutral on topical issues, use your advertising and marketing creative to align your brand with specific values and causes. Demonstrating these values can strengthen brand loyalty among Gen Z consumers and galvanize a strong base of support for your business.
  • Showcase your brand’s efforts to support specific causes and uphold your brand’s values. Empty words can end up causing more damage for your brand than good. If you’re going to claim to hold values around sustainability, mental health or other issues, don’t only reflect this in your campaign messaging. Highlight initiatives and other tangible efforts your business is making to lend its support to these issues.
  • Engage in dialogue with your Gen Z customers to understand the issues that matter most to them. Social media and other sources of customer feedback can help you evaluate the impact of your brand values on your customers. This feedback can also help enlighten your organization regarding other timely issues that matter to your audience.

Best Practices for Gen Alpha Advertising

  • Prioritize mobile-first engagement. Given the mobile-centric experiences Gen Alpha will have, mobile-first advertising and marketing—along with mobile engagement and experiences in general—will give businesses an inside track in building brand visibility among these consumers.
  • Celebrate diversity. From your employees to your customers to the diversity of your community, establish your business as a place that supports a diverse community and is engaged with different cultures and groups within that larger community. Diversity isn’t only one of the top Generation Alpha traits—it’s also something these consumers will be looking for when developing brand relationships.
  • Connect with Gen Alpha kids through their millennial parents. If you want to get in early with Gen Alpha consumers, you might want to build strong relationships with their parents—which can give you the inside lane in converting Gen Alpha as independent consumers.

No matter the generation or age of your customer base, successful advertising and marketing campaigns must be tailored specifically to your audiences’ interests and pain points.

A digital advertising partner can help your business plan and execute cost-effective campaigns targeted to Gen Z, Gen Alpha and any other consumer group. Cox Media can help build brand awareness and develop a strong customer pipeline. Contact us today to get started.

About the Author

Sara Brasfield

Sara is a Marketing Manager on Cox Media’s corporate team in Atlanta, with a passion for writing and delivering relevant insights for advertisers. With more than nine years of experience in B2B marketing, Sara aims to help Cox Media’s current and future clients connect with their customers find new and unique ways to grow their business. Outside of the office, Sara loves spending time running, reading, and supporting her favorite sports teams (Go Braves & Gamecocks!).

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