A national study commissioned by WP Engine and conducted by the Centre for Generational Kinetics explores the mindset, preferences, and expectations of Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers for their current and future digital experiences. “The Future of Digital Experiences” study, which surveyed 1,005 people in the EU ages 14 – 59, found that for Generation Z – those born from 1996 to the present – the digital experience is their human experience. These digital natives expect to have constant access to the online world and want their digital experiences to be free, secure, authentic, transparent and personalised.
The Digital Experience Is The Human Experience
Unlike their predecessors, who use the internet mainly to source information, the research found that 86 percent of Gen Z rely on the internet primarily for social media and entertainment, demonstrating a marked shift from “inform me” to “entertain me.” Where prior generations saw function or utility, Gen Z sees fun, connection and emotion. For them, there is no “online” or “internet.” Gen Z doesn’t distinguish whether they are online, on an app, in a social network’s platform or walking around with their mobile phone. To this generation, the digital world is ubiquitous and blends seamlessly with the real world- they price shop in stores, they hang out with their loved ones while waiting on line and they watch their favourite shows together with thousands of friends.
The expectation is not just that the web will play an increasingly larger role in their life, but that it is, and will continue to be, an absolutely integral part of their life. For example, 51 per cent of Gen Z believes that in five years the internet will determine what they do on a daily basis, 38 per cent believes their online reputation will determine their dating options, and a surprising 68 per cent believes that online actions, including social media posts and past purchases, will affect future job offers. 58 per cent of Gen Z even said that they predict internet usage will be as accurate for understanding whether a person gets a loan as their credit score.
The following are key findings from the study:
“For Gen Z, there is an expectation that just about everything will either move online or go away completely,” said Mary Ellen Dugan, Chief Marketing Officer at WP Engine. “This presents an incredible opportunity for companies targeting their business and makes a brand’s digital face to the world – their website – the single most important place to express their purpose and deliver value. To effectively reach this younger generation, a brand’s digital experience needs to deliver value by establishing an ongoing dialogue with these stakeholders in an authentic, personalised and secure way. Anything less will be dismissed in 8 seconds or less.”
Added Jason Dorsey, President at The Centre for Generational Kinetics, “Gen Z already influences tens of billions of dollars in annual spending and will soon be the driver of every major consumer trend. In fact, it’s predicted that by 2020, Gen Z will be 40 percent of all consumers. Brands that can’t adapt to the unique needs and behaviour of these true digital and mobile natives are likely to fade into obsolescence and miss out on their incredible purchasing power.”
Gen Z is a large, increasingly influential group with a relationship to technology unlike any previous generation. In fact, their human experience is their digital experience, and they are dependent upon it. Gen Z has never known a time devoid of online access and they depend on it for entertainment over information. They also crave authenticity in all aspects of these digital experiences, and see security enabling better, more personalised interactions. Gen Z believes the future will be personal, with connected appliances and devices and uniformly personalised experiences across websites, apps, and platforms. This presents a huge opportunity to connect with them – in more human, more secure, more predictive and more personalised ways than ever before.