Youth marketing
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How to future-proof your brand for Gen Zalpha: Meet the parents

Group of young boys sat on a football pitch, laughing and joking around.
Written by
Izzy Hall
Published on
June 25, 2024
Last updated
June 25, 2024

What this article covers

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There’s a new generation in town, and they’re here to shake things up. Introducing: Gen Zalpha. 

A hybrid generation of Gen Z and Gen Alpha, Gen Zalpha are between 9-14-years-old. They’re digitally fluent and have grown up online, meaning that their ideas and inspiration come from across the world. Their main interests include family, spending time with friends, and gaming, and 32% of them have access to media technology at home for approximately two-three hours a day. 

But what does this mean for brands? As the new kids on the block, Gen Zalpha are generally under-researched, making it tricky for brands to future-proof themselves. 

But don’t worry - we’re here to provide you with the exclusive scoop. We’ve spoken to over 2,000 Zalphas from across the UK and the USA between the ages of 9-14, and 2,000 of Zalpha’s parents born between 1990-2000. 

In this blog, we’ll uncover key pain points when it comes to engaging this young and influential generation and provide actionable takeaways from the data. You’ll also hear from Zalpha expert  Clint! Runge (CEO and Founder at Archrival) and Gen Z student Luce Biscardi to help you understand how to secure Gen Zalpha’s spend and long-term loyalty as they grow.

Future-proofing your brand: Introducing Gen Zalpha 

Gen Zalpha has experienced it all: a pandemic, inflation, the internet, climate change, and political uncertainty. No one knows for sure exactly what impact this will have on them, and this lack of understanding can make it difficult for brands and marketers to grab Zalpha’s attention and capture their parents’ spend.

According to Gen Zer Luce, who has Zalpha siblings, “Gen Alpha is the generation that was born with an iPad in their hands. That’s a [significant] cultural difference between them and Gen Zers.” 

And the stats back this up: 20% of Zalpha’s parents say 50-60% of their child’s free time is spent online. In the US, 4% of parents say their child spends 90-100% of their free time online. 

But this isn’t all bad news - 47% of Zalpha’s parents think online socializing improves their social and communication skills and 38% believe it increases friendship circles. However, 32% said it increases the chances of their child falling victim to bullying. 

Did you know? 

  • 52% of Zalphas are already showing a preference for brands.
  • 3 of Gen Zalpha’s favorite brands are Adidas, Apple, and Barbie.
  • Overall, 43% of Zalpha’s parents think online socializing has a positive impact on children’s social development. 

Financing spending intent: Who are Zalpha’s parents?

Unlike Gen Z, Gen Zalpha don’t have any income of their own to spend - yet - they rely on their parents/guardians. The majority of Zalpha’s parents we surveyed are in their early 30s and 5% were born in 2000 (Gen ers becoming parents makes us feel old, too). 

35% of those surveyed have an annual household income of $30,000 - $59,999 and 29% have less than $30,000. 

But what influence do Zalphas actually have on their parents and their spending? 

What household purchases are influenced by their child/children? 

We asked Zalpha’s parents: What household purchases are influenced by your child/children?

  • Toys and games (89%)
  • Groceries (57%) 
  • Clothes and shoes (57%)
  • Dining out and ordering take out (42%)
  • Books and music (39%) 
  • Holidays and travel  (35%)
  • Digital services, e.g. TV subscriptions (34%)

Gen Zalpha x technology

If Gen Z are digital natives, Gen Zalpha are digitally fluent. They’ve grown up with access to social media, influencer marketing is an everyday occurrence, and shopping online is second nature to them. 

In fact, their online and offline worlds blur into one. “Now, [young people] don’t see it as ‘online’ or ‘offline’”, says Clint!, “it’s all those experiences, all the time.” 

How to capture Gen Zalpha’s engagement 

This blurring of IRL and URL presents a problem for brands: How can you fight through the noise and actually engage Gen Zalpa?

A significant 72%* of Zalphas have access to a smartphone, and 24% have unsupervised access. 76%* have access to a tablet, 50% to a laptop, and 92% to a TV. This is a screen-led generation who will be growing up with an understanding of advertising and marketing like never before. 

Of the Zalphas who have access to media technology in the home, 43% have unsupervised access to social media, 62% have unsupervised access to gaming, and 48% have unsupervised access to talking to friends online.

What does this mean for brands? Well, with digital fluency comes emotional fluency. Both of which will impact how Zalphas interact with brands and how they influence their parents’ spend. More on this later. 

We asked Gen Zalpha’s parents: What does your child have access to in the home*? 

  • Streaming services (87%)
  • Gaming (68%)
  • Listening to music (64%) 
  • Educational resources (56%) 
  • Live TV (68%) 
  • Social media (37%)

*Of those who have access to media technology in the home. 

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The social generation 

Social media is in Gen Zalpha’s blood, so pulling together a great content strategy and partnering up with a leading influencer is no longer enough. Of those who have access to media technology in the home, 40% of Zalphas have access to social media. To stand out, brands need to understand this generation’s social media habits. 

Of those who do have access to social media (excluding YouTube), 17% of Zalphas have had access from 10 years old, 13% have had access from under 6 years old, and 14% have had access from less than 5 years old. 

And there’s little variation between Zalphas in the UK and those in the United States: 16% of UK Zalphas had access to social media from under five, along with 14% of US Zalphas. Gen Zalphas have grown up with smartphones in their hands - in fact, the majority of them will have better technology skills than their parents! 

We asked: For those Zalphas who do have access to social media, they use:

  • TikTok (74%)
  • Facebook (52%)
  • Instagram (48%)
  • Snapchat (42%)
  • Whatsapp (39%)
  • Facebook Messenger (37%) 

And in terms of standing out from the crowd? According to Clint!, the secret is entertainment. “Whether you’re a health brand or a fashion brand”, he shares, “you [need to] approach this with a lens of entertainment, and we’re seeing good results with that.” 

Want to learn more about how you can create highly targeted, highly effective campaigns? We can help! Get in touch today to find out what Pion’s advertising can do for you. 

Securing Gen Zalpha’s purchasing intent 

So, we come to the biggest question: How can brands tap into the spending power of Gen Zalpha if they don’t actually have any money? Using the power of pestering, of course. 

The power of pestering 

This is where things start to get interesting. Our research revealed that 19% of Gen Zalpha’s parents believe 50-60% of their household purchases are influenced by their child/children. Impressively, 5% of Zalpha’s parents say 90-100% of household purchases are influenced by their child/children. 60% of Zalphas ask their parents/guardians to buy something if it’s from a brand they like. 

It’s clear that Zalpha holds an enormous amount of power when it comes to their parents’ spending. Despite this young generation not having any disposable income themselves, it’s still vital for brands to target them and tap into their powers of persuasion. 

Accommodating for their child’s needs (48%), quality (47%), important features (46%), and knowing that their child will like it (45%) are also of some significance when it comes to parents’ decisions when purchasing for their child/children. 

However, cost remains as important as ever before, with 55% citing that as influential to their decision-making. 

We asked Zalpha’s parents: What types of purchases are mostly influenced by your child?

  • Toys and games  (88%)
  • Clothes and shoes (57%)
  • Groceries (57%)
  • Dining and ordering take out (42%)
  • Books and music (39%)

Children of Millennials: The impact of rising inflation on shopping habits

The rising cost of living isn’t just an issue for Gen Z, but for Zalpha’s parents too. 

Discounts and deals are a sure way to attract new clients to your brand, while the financial support will kickstart a lifetime of loyalty. At Pion, we can help your brand harness the growth-driving power of its target consumer groups, from new parents to key workers. Get in touch now to find out how you can accelerate growth by building brand loyalty and driving repeat purchases.

33% of Zalpha’s parents say their children expect to be involved in family/household purchases most of the time. And parents think it’s important to get their input too. 

A significant 74% of Zalpha’s parents believe it’s important for their children to be involved in purchases for the family/household. That’s an awful lot of power held by some very young people!

Gen Z vs. Gen Zalpha 

In terms of Gen Zalpha’s thought process, our survey revealed that 66% ask their parents or guardians to buy something if it’s from a brand they like. 

46% are influenced by their friends, 34% by a ‘cool’ brand, and, interestingly, only 17% are inspired by creators/influencers. 

This is a stark contrast to Gen Z, whose love of social media and celebrity culture drives them to commit to a purchase. If brands want to capture the attention of Gen Zalpha, peer-to-peer influencing and working hard to earn long-term loyalty and love is the key to success.  

With nearly 50% of Gen Z being influenced by their friends, brands need to put young people front and center, and Pion’s peer-to-peer influencing program does just that. Check out Pion Creators to learn more about our multi-channel creator campaigns, with content produced by Gen Z, for Gen Z. 

The spending journey 

So, when do Zalpha’s parents involve their children in their purchasing decisions? Our survey revealed: 

  • 57% at the research stage 
  • 48% right before buying 
  • 16% at the checkout 
  • 12% after purchase 

This makes it crucial for your brand to be front and center of Gen Zalpha’s minds, so that when they’re consulted (or are persuading!) ahead of any purchases, your brand is the first that springs to mind. 

“It’s about winning them over every time”, says Clint!. 

To keep Gen Zalpha constantly engaged, running an always-on campaign model is the future. Whilst Gen Z and Gen Zalpha may have their differences, when it comes down to it, one thing ultimately remains the same: it’s about being authentic and building trust. 

How do Gen Zalpha’s parents involve their children in purchasing decisions? 

  • Looking at products online (67%) 
  • Looking at products in store (63%)
  • Adding items to a wish list/basked (31%)
  • Watching commercials (online or on TV (31%)
  • Reading or watching product reviews (25%)

Key takeaways 

  • 40% of Gen Zalpha have access to social media. In other words, it’s in their blood. 
  • 74% of Zalpha’s parents believe that it’s important for their children to be involved in purchases for the household - Zalphas hold an enormous amount of power when it comes to their parents’ spending!
  • To keep digitally fluent Gen Zalphas engaged, brands need to focus on running an always-on campaign model. 

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We are Pion: we make brands relevant

At Pion, we help brands harness the growth-driving power of consumer groups with full-funnel insights, advertising and verification. Our ecosystem of solutions helps expand your brand’s customer base and supercharge sales. 

Since 2005, we’ve uniquely built our expertise to help brands better understand, engage and grow loyalty with students, Gen Z, and other strategic consumer groups. We combine insights, advertising and verification across a range of strategic consumer groups to accelerate your growth on campus, in-store and online.

Understand, engage and grow with a single partner. You’re in good company. We’re trusted by over 1,000 brands in more than 100 countries. 

Find out more: wearepion.com 

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