Understanding Gen Alpha with Kathy Sheehan

On our podcast, we were joined by Kathy Sheehan SVP at Cassandra, an insights and strategy agency that builds culturally relevant brands by studying trendsetting young consumers. We kick off the episode talking a bit about Kathy's background, and how she's been curious about people since an early age. Cassandra focuses on younger audiences, because they "truly believe that what is happening in this youth space is indicative of trends that are going to manifest and become mainstream in the future."


She talks about the company's flagship piece, The Cassandra Report, which began by studying millennials back when they were disrupting a lot of categories and no one really understood why or how or what was going to be happening next. The report has continued to run, looking at youth - millennials, then Gen Z and now Gen Alpha. She covers some case studies that show how looking at trendsetting youth can help predict things like social media usage and affinity, among other things. 

Kathy said the impetus for focusing on Gen Alpha (defined as between zero and 13 years old in 2024) came from clients who wanted to stay ahead. She touches on how this generation was impacted by the pandemic at a young age - "I really think the pandemic and Gen Alpha kind of came together in the industry and coalesced around putting energy behind studying this group now. So not only because they're the next generation ... but we've had this disruptive global event that is really going to impact this generation and what does that mean as well?"

In the latest Cassandra Report, there were some surprising findings. "One of the things that struck me was how comfortable this generational cohort is with fluidity around identity and in particular, gender." The report also covered data collected about technology, purchase decisions, influencers, representation and possible advertising/marketing disconnects for this generation. "There seems to be a bit of a, a bit of a gap between what the market is putting out there and what Gen Alpha is expecting or what they want to see. I think it's a huge problem. I think that, this generation is really going to, demand that they're seen in the marketplace. And, I think that we need to do a better job of representing the true diversity of this generation."

She also covers the findings surrounding technology and what innovations are going to help us engage with Gen Alpha. They examined things like AI, making research more predictive, as well as how comfortable the youngest generation is with other trends. Interestingly, the research found that these children are much more involved in family decision making than perhaps previous generations. "In fact, we are seeing families that are almost delegating the research to the kids. 'We need to plan a vacation, what would you like to do?'" The child then does research and presents findings to the parent, with influence increasingly shifting "not just top down from parent to child, but increasingly bottom up from child to parent and grandparent and, and vice versa." 

For our complete discussion, listen in

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