Gen Z willing to provide their personal data for more personalized experiences

Gen Z -- the born-digital generation -- expects a “more human” experience online. So, if this is true, the bigger question for future generations is what it means to be human in a digital world.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

The fast-emerging Generation Z has been stealing the limelight from the millennials. Apart from their nascent economic might, this born-digital generation points us toward trends that will have a profound effect on all future generations that only know life in an internet world.

Texas-based WordPress experience platform WP Engine, and research solutions firm The Center for Generational Kinetics, have released the second installment of their Gen Z by the numbers study.

It looked at the digital habits of those born between 1996 and 2010 and compared them to previous generations. It surveyed 1,258 respondents in the US, ages 14 to 59, who used a smartphone on a regular basis in August 2018.

Also: Monopoly for Millennials kills all hope of ever owning real estate CNET

Generation Z is fuelled by technology in all facets of their life, and expects the onternet to connect them, entertain them, sell to them, and build their digital brand. 

The survey, a follow up to one conducted in 2017, explores three key aspects of Gen Z's relationship with digital: Being Online, Buying Online, and Building Online.

According to the study, Gen Z continues to be the most internet-dependent generation. Over half (55 percent) of Gen Z can not comfortably go more than four hours without the internet, while 22 percent of Baby Boomers can go a week or more.

Gen Z willing to provide their personal data for more personalized experiences zdnet
(Image: WPEngine)

Gen Z, has never known a world without the internet. This generation demands 24 x 7 digital access and expects that within five years everything -- clocks, refrigerators, vacuums, dishwashers and other appliances -- will be connected online.

Gen Z has grown up in the hyper-personalized world of targeted advertisements and social platforms. As a result, they are willing to trade privacy for personalized experiences

Over two in five (44 percent) will provide their personal data to enable a more personalized experience over an anonymous one. Additionally, 44 percent of Gen Z would stop visiting a website if it did not anticipate what they needed, liked, or wanted.

Also: Top 5 things to know about working with Millennials TechRepublic

When asked if an online-only company was less trustworthy than a solely brick-and-mortar business, three-quarters (75 percent) of Gen Z say no. Gen Z prefers businesses to have an online presence and a physical storefront.

Gen Z demands that brands be both socially accountable and have authenticity in their interactions. Over two out of three (69 percent) of Gen Z are more likely to buy from a company that contributes to social causes -- almost the polar opposite of Baby Boomers.

Only 23 percent of Baby Boomers are more likely to buy from companies that contribute to causes with which they agree.

Building a personal brand is also highly instinctive fir this group, but Gen Z are much more purposeful and conscientious about it than their millennial counterparts.

Almost three out of four (72 percent) of Gen Z worry that their online actions, including social media posts and past purchases, will affect job offers. Over half (53 percent) believe their online reputation will determine their dating options.

Almost four out of five (79 percent) of Gen Z trust a company more if the images they use are not Photoshopped and 84 percent trust a company more if they use actual customers in their ads.

Gen Z also has a powerful tech-centric view of the future. When thinking about how websites will function five years from now, 80 percent believe that with biometrics (fingerprint and face recognition, voice and speech recognition), and internet authentication will be done without keyboards.  

Almost four out of five (78 percent) think that through augmented reality or virtual reality, the internet will impact our view of the world constantly, wherever we are.

Almost three-quarters (72 percent) believe that everyone will have their own personalized virtual digital assistant (Siri, Alexa, etc) to help them do everything they need to do online.

And almost four out of five (79 percent) think all software and websites/digital experiences will have digital learning/AI capabilities.

Mary Ellen Dugan, chief marketing officer at WP Engine said: 

"Gen Z is well on its way to becoming the largest generation of consumers by the year 2020. This will have profound implications for marketers and brands who, to effectively engage Gen Z, must embrace new technologies, experiment with new forms of communication and internalize the nuances in how Gen Z seamlessly blends the analogue and digital worlds."

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