When it comes to the way we interact with the web and navigate the wider digital world, Gen Z is changing everything.

Members of Gen Z, who were born after 1996, are often described as “digital natives”—people who have never known a world without the Internet. Being connected to the web is second nature to this generation and they are less likely to distinguish between “online” and “offline.” Instead, Gen Z views the Internet as an intrinsic part of their day-to-day lives.

While this may seem like an inconsequential outcome of an always-on, younger generation, Gen Z’s propensity for blending the digital and analog worlds has actually created a generational shift that holds massive implications for the future.

Those implications are particularly important for anyone doing business via digital channels, as Gen Z is expected to become the largest generation of consumers by 2020. Understanding where they are, what they want, and where they’re going is a powerful way to gauge what the future of the web will look like.

To get a closer look at this demographic, WP Engine commissioned an international study with The Center for Generational Kinetics aimed at gaining deeper insight into the ways Gen Z behaves, buys, and builds online. This year’s results, which you can find here, repeated some patterns from last year’s study, while others point to new, emerging trends. Overall, our hope is that this ongoing research presents marketers and agencies with a north star for meeting Gen Z where they are today and finding new, innovative ways to capture their attention.  

On a macro level, the study clearly shows that reaching Gen Z means businesses must adapt quickly to new trends and technologies or their competitors will beat them to the punch. For example, depending on which media source you use, Gen Z will only give you seven seconds of their time before they disengage and move on to something else.

The study also found that traditional means of accessing the Internet are not enough for Gen Z. They want new ways of interacting with the web, they want more devices to be connected, and they want improvements to predictive technologies. In fact, members of Gen Z are more likely than any other generation to provide their personal data if it means they’ll receive a more personalized digital experience over an anonymous one.

At the same time, the study found that despite Gen Z’s eagerness to access the web using new methods and different devices, they still show a clear preference for a company’s website over a mobile app when making purchases.

The implications for brands and marketers is simply this: are you ready to move fast? You’ll need to engage quickly—with authenticity and entertainment, and you’ll need to reach Gen Z in places and through new technologies where they are and where they’re going.

WP Engine’s Digital Experience Platform (DXP) was built on the idea that WordPress is the best content management system (CMS) for reaching Gen Z because it offers superior speed to market, and its open source nature means it can natively integrate with more emerging technologies and solutions than closed, proprietary software. We believe this democratizes the market for those who wish to capture a younger audience with different digital expectations from any generation that has preceded them.

Read the full study to find out more about the ways Gen Z is changing the digital landscape for all of us, and creating new expectations when it comes to the types of digital experiences today’s audiences demand. Understanding how Gen Z behaves, buys, and builds online will allow us to discover new ways of reaching this rising generation of consumers and their unprecedented level of spending power and influence.

Organizations that are able to successfully adapt to this new reality have an enormous opportunity in front of them, while those that fail to adjust accordingly will, unfortunately, be left behind.