WP Engine Study Reveals Generation Z Lives Through Digital Experiences

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Study with The Center for Generational Kinetics Shows The Digital World
Must Increasingly Be More Entertaining, More Secure, More Predictive and
More Personalized To Connect

AUSTIN, Texas–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A new, national study commissioned by WP
and conducted by The
Center 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 over 1,200 people in the U.S.
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 personalized.

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 Zers rely
on it 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, hang out with their loved ones while waiting in
line and watch their favorite videos 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, 57 percent of
Gen Z believes that in five years the digital world will determine what
they do on a daily basis, 60 percent believes their online
reputation will determine their dating options, and a surprising 71
believes that online actions, including social media posts
and past purchases, will affect future job offers. 52 percent 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. Visit http://ift.tt/2iRRJle
to learn more about the results and download a copy of the white paper
and infographic.

  • Digital Dependence v. Boomer Indifference: Gen Z doesn’t just
    view the digital world differently; they are more dependent on it than
    previous generations. 27 percent of Gen Z can’t go for more
    than one hour without the internet while 27 percent of Boomers
    can go two or more days without it. Another 42 percent of Gen Z
    says they could only comfortably go without online access for 2-8
    hours. In other words, 69 percent of Gen Z can’t go more than
    eight hours without being online.
  • This Time It’s Personal: Gen Z is 25 percent more likely
    than other generations to provide personal information to gain a more
    predictive, personalized digital experience. In five years, 62
    of Gen Z believe that websites will know what you are
    looking for before you tell them. Half of Gen Z would stop
    visiting a website if it didn’t anticipate what they needed, liked or
    wanted. In addition, 55 percent of Gen Z believes that in the
    next five years websites will become more human in experience by
    exhibiting personalized emotions when you visit and interact with them.
  • Virtually There: 50 percent of Gen Z believes virtual
    reality will be adopted within three years or less. 92 percent
    believes that the way we interact with the online world will change
    significantly. Biometrics, predictive technologies, voice and gestures
    are all predicted to replace typing on a singular device. For Gen Z,
    technology isn’t a tool for productivity, rather it’s a door to
  • Authentically Yours: Authenticity on the internet is a
    significant factor for Gen Z. Half of Gen Z needs to trust that
    people online are who they say they are and reviews come from real
    customers who purchased the product and aren’t incentivized.
    Conversely, 64 percent of Boomers want secure payments online
    and are less concerned with authenticity.
  • Safe and Secure: With so many generational differences, one
    area where all generations resoundingly agree is with the need for
    safer, more secure digital experiences. Three of the top five
    things that all respondents want most from the web are better blocking
    from malware, more protection from fraud or ID theft and better
    authenticity around the trustworthiness of a website. However Gen Z
    takes this a step further. Gen Z is over 25 percent more likely
    than Boomers and Gen X to choose a digital world where websites or
    apps can predict and provide what users need at all times over one
    where a person is completely anonymous and has to make multiple manual
    selections. Gen Z is transitioning from fearful to fearless, because
    they see security as an enabler of better, more engaging online

“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, personalized and secure way. Anything less will be dismissed
in 8 seconds or less.”

Added Jason Dorsey, President at The Center 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 behavior 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 personalized interactions. Gen Z believes the future will
be personal, with connected appliances and devices and uniformly
personalized experiences across websites, apps, and platforms. This
presents a huge opportunity to connect with them – in more human, more
secure, more predictive and more personalized ways than ever before.

Survey Methodology

The custom 23-question survey was designed collaboratively by WP Engine
and The Center for Generational Kinetics. The study was administered to
1,257 respondents in the U.S., ages 14-59, and it was weighted to
current U.S. Census data for age, gender, and region. The survey was
conducted online from July 28 to August 10, 2017. The study’s margin of
error is +/-2.8 percentage points.

About WP Engine

WP Engine is the world’s leading WordPress digital experience platform
that 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 70,000 companies across
130 countries to provide counsel and support, helping brands create
world-class digital experiences. Founded in 2010, WP Engine is
headquartered in Austin, Texas, and has offices in San Francisco,
California; San Antonio, Texas; London, England; Limerick, Ireland, and
Brisbane, Australia. WPEngine.com.


WP Engine
Eric Jones

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