Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2012) and Generation Alpha (born after 2012) were weened on all things electronic and high-tech, and have grown up in a world of rapid technological change and global connectivity. These generations therefore have a unique set of values and priorities. As they become the dominant consumer groups, their changing spending habits will increasingly influence corporate practices. Let’s think more deeply about future trends in mobile, online, and retail shopping and the spending habits of Generation Z and Generation Alpha.

For starters, these folks are more environmentally conscious and socially responsible than previous generations. They are more likely to support brands that align with their values, such as those committed to green business, ethical labor practices, and animal welfare. Some of the emerging trends and behaviors in this area include:

  1. Sustainable products: Gen Z and Gen Alpha are willing to pay a premium for sustainable products, such as organic food, eco-friendly clothing, and renewable energy. They are also more likely to recycle and reduce waste, preferring products with minimal packaging and reusable components.
  2. Ethical consumption: These generations are also concerned about the social impact of their consumption habits, favoring brands that demonstrate a commitment to fair labor practices and human rights. They are more likely to boycott brands that engage in unethical practices or exploit workers.
  3. Circular economy: Members of these cohorts also support the transition to a circular economy, where waste is minimized, and resources are kept in use for as long as possible. They are more likely to choose products and services that prioritize recycling, refurbishment, and reuse.

Of course, we’re also talking about the first generations to grow up with mobile devices and digital commerce. They are therefore comfortable with online shopping, social media, and e-commerce platforms, and are more likely to make purchases through mobile devices than previous generations. Some of the emerging trends and behaviors in this area include:

  1. Social commerce: Social media platforms, such as Instagram and TikTok, are becoming important shopping channels for Generation Z and Generation Alpha. Brands are leveraging influencers and user-generated content to reach these audiences, providing a seamless shopping experience within social media apps.
  2. Mobile payments: These generations are also more likely to use mobile payment services, such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet, than traditional payment methods. Mobile payments provide a fast, secure, and convenient way to make purchases, particularly for digital goods and services.
  3. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR): AR and VR technologies can provide immersive shopping experiences, allowing customers to preview products in a virtual environment. These technologies can also help reduce returns by providing more accurate product information and visual representations.

Otherwise, Gen Z and Gen Alpha value personalization and diversity in their consumption habits, seeking out brands and products that reflect their unique identities and experiences. Some of the key items to watch for in this area include:

  1. Hyper-customized experiences: These generations expect tailored experiences and recommendations from brands, based on their preferences, behaviors, and interests. Brands can use data analytics and artificial intelligence to provide customized shopping experiences, such as personalized product recommendations and targeted promotions.
  2. Diversity and inclusivity: Generation Z and Generation Alpha embrace diversity and inclusivity, seeking out brands that represent a range of ethnicities, genders, and cultures. They are more likely to support brands that celebrate DEI principles and challenge stereotypes, such as gender-neutral clothing lines and body-positive marketing campaigns.
  3. Local and community-focused: These generations value local and community-focused businesses, preferring to shop at independent stores and support local economies as well.