Retail Strategies for the Zalphas

How can brands and retailers communicate with the younger audience and their parents?

Sectors & Markets

08 December, 2023

Table of contents

Zalphas is the group between Gen Z and Gen Alpha from the age of 9 to 14, comprising teens and preteens. The preteens are in a rebellious phase and beginning or already in independence but still in need of their parents in every way. Even though they have a lack of self-transportation for shopping, they are active in online purchasing. However, the teens are fully aware of both digital and physical aspects of their environment and have their own opinions.

With this, the Zalphas are getting their own division with separate engagement rules. The clothing market of children is gradually becoming one of the crucial sectors in the retail landscape. According to Statista, its worth is $272,3 billion in 2023 and is estimated to reach $300,4 billion by 2027 worldwide.

Shopping with Parents

Targeting a younger customer means targeting their parents too, especially in the case of preteens. Brands and retailers have to choose a strategy that communicates with both the parents and the preteens.

John Lewis of the UK launched a preteen collection after finding in a survey that kids of age 7 have their own views on style and fashion. US-based label Maurices unveiled three Evsie stores for the preteens in Dakota, Utah and Idaho. It also offers apparel that is approved by mothers. The brand has collaborated with Kind Campaign to raise awareness of bullying. Hollister launched a special allowance for the teens to choose their selection and send it to the one that completes the transaction (i.e., parents).


One can use AR and other futuristic technologies to engage the Zalphas. Making them interact with the new collections will encourage them to shop more. Mango Teen has opened its store in Barcelona with inspiration from the metaverse. Apparatus like neon ring lights and phone holders in the product-trying rooms have shown the brand’s support for the teens to have digital interactions inside the store. In the month of March 2023, Tommy Hilfiger joined forces with an AR platform ZERO10 to present AR mirrors to try on the collection in stores. It allows the customers to try on 28 items from the collection of Tommy Hilfiger x Shawn Mendes Classics Reborn. Claire’s partners with UK-based grocery chain ASDA to stock its items in more than 500 supermarkets.

Gaming and Metaverse

Showing that you are supporting the present digital trends along with the incorporation of the gaming universe is vital. Based on a 2023 study at Ofcom, around 65% of UK people aged 8-17 are accepting that online gaming is a crucial part of their lives.

In January 2023, H&M launched Looptopia on Roblox to encourage and educate kids in a circular fashion with its treasure hunts and various games which also let the user customise the avatars. Zara released a Y2K Creatures phygital collection in its metaverse approach in September 2022. It contained 10 items with virtual accessories that would be available on ZEPETO and can be personalised. ZEPETO sells apparel, shoes and accessories for the avatars from Gucci, MCM, Christian Louboutin, Levi's, Crocs, Nike, Adidas, UGG, Puma and Alo Yoga. The user can buy makeup for the avatar from Nars and Dior on the platform.

In December 2022, Forever 21 launched its first metaverse collection featuring real-life and virtual avatars. Pacsun released PACWORLD on Roblox and PacSun the Game which can be played on tablets. Its digital world, PacVerse, has a gift shop with the stock of the men’s collection. Gucci runs Gucci Ancora space on Zepeto and on Roblox. On Roblox, you can join Tommy Hilfiger Play, Nikeland and Vans World.

Sustainable Approach

Over 83% of Gen Z are purchasing or prefer to shop for pre-loved clothes and Zalphas are becoming more aware of the current situation of the world’s sustainability. Brands and retailers have to take this strategy to be more educational than promotional.

H&M, with thredUP, launched H&M Pre-Loved with categories including kids. PUMA introduced the Voice of a Re: Generation program for the young generation to advise the brand on its sustainable strategy. It will be working with four young minds on this strategy. thredUP presented the Fast Fashion Confessional Hotline, featuring 17-year-old Priah Ferguson from Stranger Things, to assist Gen Z and Zalphas in fighting their urge to buy fast fashion.

Balenciaga partnered with Reflaunt for a preloved Balenciaga reselling program. Gucci, in addition to Real Real, and Burberry collaborated with Vestiaire Collective to sell the brands’ pre-owned products.

Y2K Trend

The Y2K Trend, a unique, daring and playful fashion phenomenon that came in the late 90s and early 2000s, is becoming a relevant topic among younger audiences. It gives them a nostalgia for the generation they want to remember. As the trend has already influenced Gen Z influencers who are slightly older than Zalphas on TikTok, Y2K is becoming a major touchpoint in Zalphas’ market. On TikTok, the #y2k has 29,8 billion views and #y2kfashion has 2,6 billion views on the videos.

In November 2022, Macy’s announced its plan to launch Claire's accessories shops in 21 locations as a way to target younger consumers. Tammy Girl, which was shut in 2015, has come back online for teens and pre-teens on the e-commerce platform ASOS in January 2023. Brands such as Juicy Couture, Von Dutch, Ed Hardy and Diesel have a default Y2K style on their products.

Cover Image: Mango Teen Store, courtesy Arch Daily.