Although most food and beverage businesses are focused firmly on today’s trends, such as millennials' taste preferences and the shopping habits of baby boomers, these companies should also be aware of what Generation Alpha—the consumer group that follows Generation Z—will be seeking.
The terminology may be new to some, but the reality is that members of Generation Alpha are already food and beverage consumers.
“Generation Alpha represents those born after 2011, or those five years of age and younger,” says Dan Schawbel, research director at Future Workplace and author of Promote Yourself. “They are the children of millennials and they are predicted to be 35 million large in the next twenty or so years.”
Know these Gen. Alpha trends
The biggest trend among Generation Alpha’s members will be their uninterrupted use of technology to perform tasks, maintain relationships and seek entertainment sources.
“They won't know a world without virtual reality, smartphones, electronic readers, the internet of things and wearables,” Schawbel says. “Using these technologies will feel very natural to them, and their behavior will influence older generations, as we've seen in the past with millennials and Gen. Z.”
Although the overwhelming use of technology could present new opportunities for businesses who seek to capture Gen Alpha’s attention, it could also have a downside.
“We believe their tech adoption, and the advancements in technology, will make them lonely, detached and have less direct human contact,” Schawbel says. This means that retailers must have a virtual presence rather than relying solely on brick-and-mortar stores, he says.
This trend could already be in motion, as the cost of maintaining stores has grown for retailers who have seen more shopping shift to online. As this adjustment continues, retailers will have to balance the need to cater to aging customers who like to see products in person against Generation Alpha’s interest in shopping online.
Start now to court these customers
Although shoppers from Generation Alpha don’t have their own credit cards just yet, food and beverage companies shouldn’t wait too long to develop strategies to court these consumers.
“We know that they will adopt similar patterns to their parents, the millennials,” Schawbel says. “When you think about eventually serving this group, part of your marketing and sales strategy will be to engage their parents as their key decision makers. Virtual retail stores will become more abundant and companies will have to focus on the consumer experience, which will include virtual reality. The question your company will need to answer is, ‘how do I immerse this generation in our products before they even buy them?’”
If you enjoyed this article, join SmartBrief's email list for more stories about the food and beverage industry. We offer 17 newsletters covering the industry from restaurants to food manufacturing.