- More than half (55%) of children between the ages of six and 16 want to buy a product if their favorite YouTube or Instagram influencer uses or wears it, according to a new report on Generation Alpha from Wunderman Thompson Commerce provided to Marketing Dive. The agency surveyed more than 4,000 kids in the age group in the U.S. and U.K. earlier this summer.
- While social media plays a large role in guiding Gen Alpha's habits, the findings revealed that peers remain the most influential factor over purchasing decisions for kids. Twenty-eight percent of those surveyed want to purchase something their friends have, versus 25% who said social media stars are the top influencers on shopping decisions. However, the report additionally showed that 14% of respondents are interested in the idea of influencers launching their own retail outlets.
- Fifty-seven percent of Gen Alpha said that they want to buy things they see in ads on Instagram. Videos were the most effective format to push messaging on the app, with 24% of kids saying they were compelled to buy from Instagram videos versus 19% who said they'd be interested in buying products through other posts.
Wunderman Thompson Commerce's latest report provides hints at how the influencer space might change as the Gen Alpha age group grows its purchasing power and, in turn, starts to guide marketing strategies in the same way that older peers like Gen Z and millennials have done before it.
The study reinforces the idea that influencers could move beyond being mere partners with outside companies to instead focus on stewarding their own brands and businesses, potentially by opening standalone retail operations in a shift that could signal both good and bad news for legacy players.
"While some brands and retailers are already making the most of the strong connection between influencers and consumers, it will be crucial for businesses to watch the evolution of the influencer trend," Neil Stewart, global CEO of Wunderman Thompson Commerce, said in a statement. "If younger consumers' wishes are granted and influencers become retailers themselves, this will only mean more competition for existing brands and retailers."
Influencers extending their brands through personal product lines has gained traction in recent years, but not always resulted in successes. Kylie Cosmetics, the beauty line founded by reality-TV star Kylie Jenner, has become a serious contender in the category, largely without sinking a ton of money into paid social advertisements — a sign that the recognizability of Jenner's name is enough to get consumers interested.
On the other hand, Arii, a social media influencer with more than 2.5 million Instagram followers, shuttered a personal clothing line less than two weeks after its debut earlier this year due to abysmal sales, as reported in Adweek. The contrast highlights the fickle nature of the influencer sphere and how broad reach online doesn't always translate into concrete actions from followers.
Still, brands ranging from Papa John's to Suave have been capitalizing on the popularity of influencer marketing, and the channel is expected to command $15 billion in spend by 2022. Interestingly, Gen Alpha tend to favor Amazon, one of the most-recognized and well-like brands among the demographic, according to Wunderman Thompson Commerce. Amazon earlier this week unveiled influencer storefronts that let online celebrities from apps like Instagram and YouTube curate a selection of products available to purchase on its e-commerce platform.
In other ways, Wunderman Thompson Commerce's findings highlight the similarities between Gen Alpha and their slightly older peers. For instance, a recent CMO Council/Pitney Bowes study showed that 54% of Gen Z consumers cited social media is their top influence channel. A different study revealed that 70% of teens said they prefer brands to contact them about new products through Instagram.