Gen Z wants brands to be ‘fun,’ ‘authentic’ and ‘good,’ study says

Dive Brief:

  • Generation Z has high expectations for digital experiences, shaping how they feel about brands, shopping and technology. More than half (58%) of people born in the years 1996-2015 said they can’t be without internet access for more than four hours before becoming uncomfortable, making them highly dependent on their digital connections, according to a yearly global survey commissioned by WordPress hosting company WP Engine.
  • Gen Zers prefer brands that are authentic, with 82% saying they trust a company more if it uses images of real customers in its advertising, while 72% said they’re more likely to buy from a company that contributes to social causes. Product quality, positive ratings and reviews and customer service are the top three characteristics that establish trust in a brand among Gen Zers, the survey found.
  • Gen Z has a favorable view of technology, with 66% saying they believe the internet will bring people closer together, while 56% said they are friends with someone they only know online. Gen Z tends to consist of pragmatists, self-starters and entrepreneurs, with 62% of the group planning to start or possibly start their own business, a higher percentage than any other generation, the survey found. The Center for Generational Kinetics conducted the survey in the U.S., Western Europe and Australia last year.

Dive Insight:

Generation Z is the first demographic group born after the internet was commercialized, making digital experiences a key part of their upbringing. Marketers need to be mindful of how Gen Z’s familiarity with technology shapes their attitudes toward brands, advertising and shopping experiences. About two-thirds (65%) of Gen Z use the internet for entertainment, making digital media channels a key way to reach younger audiences. The coronavirus pandemic has made digital connections even more important among people who are working from home or spending more time consuming media, as WP Engine notes in its report.

Gen Zers have an optimistic view of how technology will improve their lives, with 64% of the group saying artificial intelligence (AI) will have a positive effect on the world. An equal percentage of Gen Zers said they believe the internet will determine what they do on a daily basis in five years, making digital connections central to their lives. Nineteen percent of respondents said tech savviness was the most important value, quality or attribute to Gen Z, compared with 22% who rated freedom as most significant.

Social media has shaped Gen Z’s attitudes about personalization, with 75% of survey respondents saying they’re more likely to buy a product if they can customize it, the survey found. Seventy percent of Gen Zers said they believe a website will know what they’re looking for before they tell it, while 66% believe that all websites will “talk” to each other to create a personalized experience among websites, apps and appliances, the survey found. The finding suggests that Gen Z is comfortable with sharing personal information to customize products and services, as marketers seek a balance between personalization and consumer privacy.

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