How to prepare for Gen Alpha: Invest in YouTube, gaming and learning

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Agencies and brands continue to study Gen Alpha’s distinction from Gen Z as they prepare to adapt their marketing tactics and strategies to court this even-younger generation. The short answer seems to be: Look to channels like YouTube, influencers and gaming.

Interactive agency Razorfish and video ad platform Precise TV in June and July released findings on the Gen Alpha cohort and their parents, diving into some of their social behaviors and media trends challenging stereotypes, as well as the particular educational and gaming content that will most appeal to this group.

Razorfish studied 3,474 Alpha participants and their parents based in nine markets globally. Precise TV surveyed U.S. families with 3,000 kids ages 2 to 12.

“Gen Alpha’s increased interests is one area for marketers to watch,” said Dani Mariano, president of Razorfish. “On top of Alphas having twice as many interests as Gen Z, how they learn has also changed.”

Born between 2010 and 2024, Gen Alpha is expected to become the largest and most diverse generation to date (reaching some 2.2 billion people by the end of 2025) – and hold the greatest spending power too, per Razorfish. For marketers, striking a balance between analog and digital experiences and partnering with the appropriate brands and influencers will become critical, as both studies highlight the ongoing appeal of YouTube, TikTok and gaming platforms.

Here’s a breakdown of their key findings:

Gaming opportunities

Razorfish’s second Gen Alpha study this year builds on previous research on how the generation differs from Gen Z in the U.S. By age 13, Alphas own as many devices as the average global adult, with smartphones, laptops and gaming consoles being the most popular top three devices. (Also, 69% of Gen Alphas have gaming consoles.)

“They prefer interactive, gamified experiences, and rely on hacks, how-to videos and DIYs over conventional learning,” Mariano said.

Precise TV’s study also showed that 60% of Gen Alpha choose to play games on phones or tablets — with Roblox being their favorite platform, along with other building, fashion and adventure types of games. It also found that one-fifth of them remember ads when playing mobile games. Gaming overall was the third-most popular media platform behind YouTube and VOD apps.

“With the global kids digital advertising market expected to surpass a value of $21.1 billion by the end of 2031, there’s a significant opportunity for targeted, effective, and ethical advertising that speaks directly to young gamers and drives high engagement for brands,” added Denis Crushell, chief commercial officer at Precise TV.

YouTube/Shorts vs. TikTok

As for YouTube, there’s no sign of shorts and videos slowing down. More than 30% watch YouTube and YouTube Shorts more than two hours daily. Some of the popular content included Peppa Pig, SpongeBob Squarepants, Disney Music and Cocomelon. Nearly 70% of Gen Alpha is currently watching YouTube Shorts and TikTok one to two hours per day, per Precise TV.

Considering where those franchises live, Nickelodeon and its parent Paramount will have a competitive edge here. Those content and channels are being consumed on YouTube now more than on streamers like Netflix or Hulu, Precise TV noted.

The YouTube hours watched translate to purchases too — with YouTube ads driving twice as much purchase behavior compared to TV, according to Precise TV. Some 22% of Alphas have bought something they have seen after watching YouTube Shorts, and a quarter of them have asked their parents to buy them something after seeing it on YouTube Shorts. (The study did not dive into concerns on letting kids purchase without parental permission.)

However, only 15% believe the best commercials are on TikTok, compared to 31% on YouTube. Ad recall was also higher for YouTube (53%), versus TikTok (24%). Both paid and free VOD services saw content consumption declines of 53% and 40%, respectively — compared to YouTube’s 30% increase.

“Traditional media networks and their time-honored franchises are winning attention in the non-TV arena, and winning Gen Alpha’s attention at record rates,” said Christian Dankl, co-founder and chairman of Precise TV.

Brands and content preferences

In terms of content areas, Razorfish noted how Gen Alpha gravitates toward experiences and content based on hacks — finding efficient ways to do something in the form of tips and tricks or DIY videos. But analog experiences are still important to this group, with the report pointing to their value of tangible things, in-person experiences and events.

A focus area fpr the near future will be financial literacy: “It will be crucial for marketers to understand what currencies Alphas transact in, like [U.S. dollars versus Robux] — and that tension between value and price,” said Mariano.

Gen Alpha and Gen Z also differ on the brands they like – with the former gravitating toward the creative and inspirational ones, and the latter preferring snack and candy brands. Alphas’ top five preferred brands are Nike, Apple, Adidas, Lego and Samsung, in that order. That’s compared to Gen Z at that general age in 2012: McDonald’s, M&M’S, Oreo, Doritos and Wii, according to Razorfish.

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