London, UK. Tuesday 27th February 2024: Assumptions about Generation Alpha (6-16-year-olds) may need to be upended as research finds these digital natives are far from digitally exclusive, with more enjoying the experience of shopping in-store (69%) than that offered online (63%), highlighting the importance of offering a unified omnichannel experience.

This challenges notions that brands need to engage with the group differently, with their preferences suggesting an evolution in the preferences of other age groups surveyed for VML’s ‘Trailblazers of Tomorrow report rather than a revolution (see Note to Editors for full breakdown) *.

This means an omnichannel approach will continue to be key, especially with Generation Alpha expecting 28% of their spend to be in-store in 10 years' time - again closely aligned with the expectations of older shoppers and in contrast with years of warnings about the high street’s waning relevance.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach for Generation Alpha. Often the tendency is to think of this age group as an entirely screen-bound demographic. But in many ways, as with their enjoyment of in-store shopping, they are quite traditional. To that end, an omnichannel strategy that effectively marries brick and mortar outlets and in-store experiences with online and emerging channels will be essential if brands hope to meet these customers where they are.

Hugh Fletcher

Global Marketing Director and Thought Leadership Lead - Commerce & Tech at VML.

The research found that social commerce looks poised to be among the biggest winners of the next decade, with all age groups aside from those over 55 predicting they will eventually spend even more via social media than Amazon. Despite often being seen as the most ‘online’ group, the 15% of spend that Generation Alpha expects to be via social platforms, trails the predictions of millennials (17-24: 26%, 25-34: 18%, 35-44: 18%), emphasizing the growing opportunity here for brands.

Perhaps this is unsurprising given the 2.39 hours respondents reported spending on social media a day. However, with 31% of all shoppers wishing it was simpler to shop through social channels and just 14% calling the best performing platform - TikTok - easy to shop through, clearly there is still work to be done to meet consumer demands.

As social shopping becomes more popular the role and effectiveness of influencers will increasingly come into focus. Over a third (36%) of consumers have found a new product or brand through an influencer, a figure which leaps to 52% among Generation Alpha, the majority of whom (52%) feel influencers give better product insights than brands and marketplaces.

And, with 41% of shoppers believing that influencer-led brands like PRIME Hydration will grow in prominence, brands will need to reconcile how they partner effectively with these personalities as more launch their own - possibly competitive - businesses. With passionate audiences and extensive reach, brands led by influencers could well pose a threat to traditional retailers who do not factor them into their omnichannel mixes.


Note to Editors*

Full breakdown as follows:

6-16: in-store 69% / online 63%

17-24: in-store 51% / online 53%

25-34: in-store 56% / online 62%

35-44: in-store 58% / online 61%

45-54: in-store 58% / online 56%

55+: in-store 62% / online 54%


The research was conducted by Censuswide, with 2,011 Gen Alpha respondents (6-16-year-olds) and 2,004 General Consumers (17-55+) across the UK, between 27.10.2023 – 06.11.2023

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