Generation Influence: Gen Z Study Reveals a New Digital Paradigm
Gen Z’s identity is inextricably tied to being online, resetting expectations for digital experiences
AUSTIN, Texas — July 7, 2020 — The third annual, international study of Gen Z, conducted by The Center for Generational Kinetics and commissioned by WP Engine, launched today reveals new expectations for the web by Generation Z in comparison to other generations including Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers. Gen Z, born between 1996-2015, is the most Internet-dependent generation and is firmly at the vanguard of technology use across all generations. These ties to digital reveal insights for brands on how to reach this important audience.
Why studying Gen Z matters.
2020 has taught us the stark importance of the digital world. Billions of people went online to work, study, and merely to stay in touch during the COVID-19 pandemic. After years of knowing they needed to adopt digital transformation strategies, the pandemic has forced organizations to not only accelerate those plans but put them into immediate action.
The companies who will succeed in this new world are those who have reimagined activities that were typically done in the physical world as digital experiences. And for many consumers, these new digital experiences, from home workouts to order-ahead grocery pickups, have often proved more enjoyable and more convenient than those offline.
For Gen Z, this is nothing new. They’ve never drawn a distinction between the physical and the digital world. For them, whether online or offline, the critical element is that you can seamlessly move between each. They’re leading this shift in consumer behavior with their digital fluency and articulating nothing less than a new paradigm for digital experiences.
“Gen Z are digital pioneers in that they charted the path for the rest of the world to go fully digital, and marketers ignore that path at their own peril,” said Mary Ellen Dugan, Chief Marketing Officer for WP Engine. “The pandemic caused a profound change in the way we do everything, from shopping to eating to engaging with friends and family. Gen Z was already comfortable in that new paradigm, so if you meet the digital needs of Gen Z, you’re ahead of the rest of the world.”
Gen Z’s identity is inextricably tied to digital.
Gen Z’s identity and digital are inextricably linked, blending the physical and digital worlds as never before. They are far more likely than other generations to believe in the positive impact of technology on the world. 64% think artificial intelligence will have a positive impact and 66% believe the Internet will bring us closer together. In fact, when asked which value, quality, or attribute is most important to your generation, Gen Z rated tech-savviness (19%) almost as highly as freedom (22%).
What are some characteristics of Gen Z?
- Web or die. 58% of Gen Z can’t go more than 4 hours without Internet access before they become uncomfortable.
- In the Internet we trust. In 5 years, 64% of Gen Z thinks the Internet will determine what they will do on a daily basis.
- Byte-pal. 56% of Gen Z is friends with someone they ONLY know online.
“Gen Zers are a huge, diverse generation and the fastest growing group of employees, customers, and voters,” said Jason Dorsey, President at The Center for Generational Kinetics. “As we’ve seen over the past three studies, this generation thinks and acts VERY differently. Their connectedness, their ability to navigate change quickly and their desire to have a positive impact on the world are all reflected in their higher expectations of technology and organizations.”
Connecting with Gen Z: be fun, be authentic, be good.
When it comes to establishing trust in a brand, the top three factors for Gen Z are quality of a product, positive online ratings/reviews and customer service. Gen Z has grown up in an era of personalization based on their experiences with social media and these expectations extend to their preferences in shopping. In fact, far more than other generations, 75% of Gen Z is more likely to buy a product if they can customize it.
What does Gen Z expect from brands?
- Be fun. 65% of Gen Z goes to the Internet for access to entertainment
- Be authentic. 82% of Gen Z trusts a company more if the images they use in their ads are of actual customers
- Be good. 72% of Gen Z is more likely to buy from a company that contributes to social causes
Resetting digital experience expectations.
Raised on social media, Gen Z expects the broader digital world to know what their likes, wants and interests are. They see this as minimizing some of the daily decisions they have to make so they can focus on the more important topics. And, as we’ve seen in past studies, this is a generation of pragmatists, self-starters and entrepreneurs, so if it doesn’t exist, Gen Z will build it. A higher percentage of Gen Z (62%), more than any other generation, plans to start or possibly start their own business sometime in the future. Additionally, reflecting their preference for all things digital, 62% of those Gen Zers said they would start their business online.
What does Gen Z expect from digital experiences?
- Get to know me. 66% believe that all websites will “talk” to each other, so every site/app/appliance will present a personalized experience
- Smart.com. 70% believe websites will know what you are looking for before you tell it
- Press ahead. 66% of Gen Z has personally used, worked with someone else, or hired someone to use WordPress for a website
To read the complete “Generation Influence: Reaching Gen Z in the New Digital Paradigm” study, please visit https://wpengine.com/gen-z-us/, where you can learn more about the results, sign up for the Gen Z webinar and download a copy of the ebook and infographic.
A custom, 30-question Gen Z survey was designed collaboratively by WP Engine and The Center for Generational Kinetics and conducted in the U.S., western Europe, and Australia. In the U.S., the Gen Z Study was administered to 1,252 respondents ages 14-59 including a 250-person oversample of Gen Z (ages 14-23). The sample was weighted to the U.S. Census for age, region, gender, and ethnicity. Survey was conducted online from September 19, 2019 to October 1, 2019. Figures are statistically significant at the 95% confidence level. Margin of error is +/-3.1 percentage points.
About WP Engine.
The WP Engine WordPress Digital Experience Platform gives companies of all sizes the agility, performance, intelligence, and integrations they need to drive their business forward faster. WP Engine’s combination of tech innovation and an award-winning team of WordPress experts are trusted by over 100,000 companies across 150 countries to provide counsel and support, helping brands create world-class digital experiences. www.wpengine.com
About The Center for Generational Kinetics.
The Center for Generational Kinetics (CGK) is the leading research, speaking, and strategy firm focused on Millennials, Generation Z, and solving generational challenges. CGK’s team of PhD researchers, strategists, and keynote speakers help leaders around the world solve tough generational challenges in areas ranging from employing multiple generations and recruiting Gen Z to selling and marketing to Millennials and across generations. Each year, CGK works with over 100 clients around the world, from car manufacturers and global hoteliers to insurance companies, hospital chains, and international software firms. CGK’s team is frequently quoted in the media about the effect of generational differences and emerging trends on everything from shopping and parenting to work style and social media. Learn more about CGK at GenHQ.com.
The Center for Generational Kinetics
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