In a new report, “A Brand’s Guide to Gen Alpha,” Morning Consult surveyed 2,000 parents of Gen Alpha to uncover how the youngest generation is affecting purchase decisions across the marketplace. Here are five pertinent takeaways specifically for food and beverage brands.
Gen Alpha prefer certain F&B brands
Food and beverage is a primary category where Gen Alpha is influencing purchasing. Per the report, up to 30% of Gen Alpha parents, who are Millennials, said they involve their children in their grocery purchasing decisions.
And, despite their young age, Gen Alpha has developed strong brand preferences related to food, snacks and restaurants. About 80% of Gen Alpha parents said their children often or sometimes request a specific snack or food brand. Slightly fewer parents said the same about restaurants.
Emily Moquin, food and beverage analyst at Morning Consult, said it’s not just “pester power.”
“From a very young age, kids are recognizing brands, they're asking for a specific products that they like,” she explained. “What's also important for brands to understand is that this isn't just pester power.”
Gen Alpha children, unlike other generations, are growing up in an exceptionally choice-filled environment.
“There's SKU proliferation, there's more ways to get more products than ever before, the path of purchase has evolved, the actual products are more niche, more fragmented, there's so many more options available,” Moquin detailed. “Letting kids choose the brands and the products … helps them build critical thinking and decision making skills.”
Their parents are health conscientious
When it comes to nutrition, Gen Alpha parents seem to take a moderate approach that prioritizes incorporating healthy foods like fruits and vegetables into their kids’ diets, but also makes room for convenient and kid-approved options like McDonald’s.
That’s not surprising, considering a top priority for Gen Alpha parents is that their children are physically healthy, according to the report. Physical health is also something Gen Alpha parents are keen to talk to their children about. More than half of Gen Alpha parents said they sometimes or often talk to their children about their own physical health—more than any other topic identified in the survey, including mental health, body image and race.
“They're focused on what I would call broad patterns of establishing good habits—the things that we all hear about when we think about what we should do to eat healthy. It's eating fruits and vegetables, fresh foods, a variety of foods,” Moquin said.
Less sugar is a priority
High on their list of nutrition priorities, Moquin added, is limiting sugar.
She pointed to data from the report showing nearly half of parents (46%) are limiting their kids’ intake of sugary drinks, and more than a third (39%) said limiting overall sugar consumption was very important to them.
Ultimately, their priority is on helping their children build foundations of healthy eating, Moquin explained.
Convenience and balance are important, too
For Millennial parents, that means taking a balanced approach to nutrition that also incorporates convenient and tasty options. In fact, 43% of Gen Alpha parents said they eat fast food at least weekly in their household.
McDonald’s was the most popular restaurant pick, per the report, with 37% of parents reporting the fast-food giant was their Gen Alpha child’s favorite restaurant.
“Millennials have for a long time embraced balance and thought about ‘high-low foods’—you know, it's about the overall approach toward healthy eating and not necessarily a fad diet,” Moquin said. “That's coming through here, too, where there's a balance of … the fruits, vegetables, fresh foods, and then also fast food and delicious foods.”
Digital is a driver
Not surprisingly, Gen Alpha has strong ties to the digital world, with more than half (54%) owning a tablet. Increased digital exposure, combined with decreased in-store exposure, means brands have to be mindful about how they’re reaching their audience with information about their products.
“In-store exposure still is one of the key ways that kids might learn about a brand and ask for a specific brand, which has the potential to change for food and beverage brands,” Moquin noted. “As [parents] spend less time taking the kids along on the store trips, there probably is more of a need to make sure those digital channels are ways that kids are learning about brands.”
Rachel Adams joined Informa’s Health & Nutrition Network in 2013. Her career in the natural products industry started with a food and beverage focus before transitioning into her role as managing editor of Natural Products INSIDER, where she covered the dietary supplement industry. Adams left Informa Markets in 2019.