Gen Z study reveals a new digital paradigm

The third annual, international study of Gen Z, conducted by The Center for Generational Kinetics and commissioned by WP Engine, reveals new expectations for the web by Generation Z in comparison to other generations including Millennial’s, Gen X, and Baby Boomers. Gen Z, born between 1996-2015.The research reveals that Gen Z 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 have gone 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 organisations 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 re-imagined activities that were typically done in the physical world as digital experiences. And for many consumers, these new digital experiences, from online shopping 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 distinguished 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 behaviour with their digital fluency and articulating nothing less than a new paradigm for digital experiences.

“Gen Z are digital pioneers and have charted the path for the rest of the world to go fully digital,” said Mark Randall, Country Manager, ANZ for WP Engine. “In Australia, the lockdown has 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 now meet the needs 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. 65% think artificial intelligence will have a positive impact and 75% believe the Internet will bring us closer together. When asked which value, quality, or attribute is most important to your generation, Gen Z rated tech-savviness (22%) almost as highly as freedom (27%).

What are some characteristics of Gen Z?

  • Web or die: 52% 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, 67% of Gen Z thinks the Internet will determine what they will do on a daily basis.
  • Byte-pal: 54% 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 organisations.”

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 the quality of a product, positive online ratings/reviews, and customer service. Gen Z has grown up in an era of personalisation based on their experiences with social media and these expectations extend to their preferences in shopping. Far more than other generations, 57% of Gen Z is more likely to buy a product if they can customise it.

What does Gen Z expect from brands?

  • Be fun: 66% of Gen Z goes to the Internet for access to entertainment
  • Be authentic: 82% of Gen Z trust a company more if the images they use in their ads are of actual customers
  • Be good: 75% of Gen Z are 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 minimising 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 (91%), more than any other generation, plans to start or possibly start their own business sometime in the future. Additionally, reflecting their predilection to all things digital, 61% 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 personalised experience
  • 72% believe websites will know what you are looking for before you tell it
  • Press ahead: 67% of Gen Z has personally used, worked with someone else, or hired someone to use WordPress for a website

To read the complete “Gen Z: Resetting Expectations for the Digital Experience” study, visit

Survey Methodology

A custom 30-question Gen Z survey was designed collaboratively by WP Engine and The Center for Generational Kinetics. The Gen Z Study was administered to 999 Australian respondents ages 14-59.

The sample was weighted to the Australian 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.

Written by WP Engine. Study conducted by The Center for Generational Kinetics (CGK) at




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