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Defining a Generation

ZALPHAS represent an underserved clientele you can capitalize on.

WHEN YOU ASK, “Who inspires you the most?” someone usually older than you comes to mind. It’s often a parent or a past teacher, a figure from literature or a cultural hero. It’s almost never a child, tween, or young adult. Our assumption is that people of that age haven’t done enough yet in the world for us to be inspired by them. At least, that’s the way things used to be.

What Are ZALPHAS and How Can You Serve Them in Your Print Business?

I have news for you, times have changed. Meet the ZALPHAS.

“Who are ZALPHAS?” you ask? Let’s start by taking a look at this from a literal sense. When were they born? You’d think that this would be a straightforward answer, but it isn’t. Generational studies are an ever-evolving discipline.

You might be from the camp that says a ZALPHA is a superpower generation that incorporates both Gen Z (1996 – 2012) and Gen Alpha (2010 – 2024) generations.

What Are ZALPHAS and How Can You Serve Them in Your Print Business?

Or, you could be in the other camp, that says, “Hold on! A ZALPHA is someone born between two generations, making them a ‘cusp’ generation. In this case, one that sits between Gen Z (1996 – 2012) and Gen Alpha (2010 – 2024), becoming a six-year micro-generation (2008 – 2014) that overlaps both gens a little bit.

What Are ZALPHAS and How Can You Serve Them in Your Print Business?

Either way you look at it, their new combined name is ZALPHA and they are true digital natives. Nimble with tech, ZALPHAS are quick to research regarding family spend, making their influence on business mighty. They are extremely accomplished by the standards of any generation. Although the oldest ZALPHA is either only 14 or 28 (depending on your camp), and many have led significant cultural change movements such as social or environmental justice.), they are regularly recruited by companies as paid marketing advisers (NFL). Others write and publish books (Taanvi Arekapudi) about teen mental wellness and many other topical subjects, becoming in-demand content-expert speakers.

What Are ZALPHAS and How Can You Serve Them in Your Print Business?

This is the first generation for whom augmented reality is just…reality. Snapchat and Pokémon GO have been their babysitters and now studies show that 92% of them want to see AR used for e-commerce. The metaverse opened up new spaces where they could meet friends, hang out, have dates, go to concerts and buy digital merchandise that sometimes also becomes IRL merchandise. ZALPHAS are the first generation to see the new field of Esports (professional on-line gaming) become a viable and lucrative profession.

And yet, while all of that is true, there are some other things ZALPHAS would like you to understand about them. When surveyed, 36% of teens say that they are spending too much time online. So it’s no surprise that this unique cohort is equally interested in engaging with the natural world, although they approach it in their own way: through technology. Downloads of apps that identify plants and animals like EarthSnap confirm their desire to connect with and learn about nature and the environment. When it comes to popular outdoor activities, ZALPHAS are originals here, too. The newest court sport to take off globally is padel, with searches for #padel hitting over 2.4 billion views on TikTok.

What Are ZALPHAS and How Can You Serve Them in Your Print Business?

The bottom line is, no matter how you categorize ZALPHAS by age, they are now, or will be in a very short time, your customers. Even right now, without spending their own money, they are a major influence on what and where their parents (and often grandparents) spend their money. This is because it is the ZALPHA in the group does the initial research to learn about the product or service in question. It is the ZALPHA lens that product goes through before being presented to the parent as an option. If they don’t like what they see online, their parent is not likely to ever see it.
This is why it’s so important to understand what this generation is thinking and what they value.

Let’s learn how to think like a ZALPHA.

What Are ZALPHAS and How Can You Serve Them in Your Print Business?




Let’s Talk About It

Creating a More Diverse and Inclusive Screen Printing Industry

LET’S TALK About It: Part 3 discusses how four screen printers have employed people with disabilities, why you should consider doing the same, the resources that are available, and more. Watch the live webinar, held August 16, moderated by Adrienne Palmer, editor-in-chief, Screen Printing magazine, with panelists Ali Banholzer, Amber Massey, Ryan Moor, and Jed Seifert. The multi-part series is hosted exclusively by ROQ.US and U.N.I.T.E Together. Let’s Talk About It: Part 1 focused on Black, female screen printers and can be watched here; Part 2 focused on the LGBTQ+ community and can be watched here.

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