Digital Trends 2018 Infographic by WP Engine
According to Mary Ellen Dugan Chief Marketing Officer of WP Engine a leading WordPress digital experience platform says 2018 digital trends will mark the shift from personalization to predictive personalization.
Understanding the mindset, preferences, and expectations of Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers about their digital experiences is the driving force behind new technologies driving digital trends.
The “Future of Digital Experiences” study co-sponsored by WP Engine surveyed over 1,200 people in the U.S. ages 14 – 59 and found that for Generation Z, those born from 1996 to the present, that the digital experience is their human experience.
Digital Natives, individuals who need have constant access to the online world and want their digital experiences to be free, secure, authentic, transparent and personalized.
Some interesting digital trends:
- 86 percent of Gen Z rely on it primarily for social media and entertainment marking a shift from Inform Me to Entertain Me
- 57 percent of Gen Z believes that in five years the digital world will determine what they do on a daily basis
- 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
- 60 percent believes their online reputation will determine their dating options
- 71 percent believes that online actions including social media posts and past purchases, will affect future job offers
We discussed with Mary Ellen Dugan about digital trends for 2018 and here is our conversation.
LA Tech News: Is living through a digital experience having a positive or negative impact on individuals and society at large? Why? How?
Mary Ellen Dugan: That’s a relatively broad question, but I can give you my opinion based on the results of the survey. My takeaway from the research is that Gen Z is the first generation to have so totally internalized their digital experience as to no longer draw a distinction between the online and offline world. It’s literally part of everything they do and being connected to everyone, everywhere, all the time is a fact of life for them. For them, being constantly online is a societal norm, the challenge is older generations don’t view it that way.
With that said, however, one of the more interesting facts that came from the study was that in spite of being digital dependents and having high expectations for personalized and predictive digital experiences, Gen Z still strongly believes that meeting another person face to face is the best way to learn about them, which speaks to their underlying need for authenticity. And even with all the technology available to them, they still want to be able to trust that those with whom they interact online are actually who they say they are. So while their many of their experiences are digital, there is still a human element to some of their expectations and that unites them in a unique way.
We also learned that all generations expect that certain institutions, such as schools, churches, shopping and job searches, will completely move online within five years. You could make an argument that this is the continued evolution of the digital revolution, much like cars replaced carriages and machines replaced many manual jobs. While change is never easy and there will be challenges, I think this evolution brings about many opportunities for advancement in fields such as healthcare, education and business in general.
LA Tech News: The shift from “inform me” to “entertain me” is this not a signal that the digital experience is merely another form of entertainment?
Mary Ellen Dugan: Definitely. Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and even some Millennials witnessed the creation and evolution of the internet occurring right in front of them and the benefit was clear – access to information because there were relatively few other options on the nascent Internet. Now there is so much content and so many sites that there’s a constant battle for attention.
While Millennials grew up with celebrity brands, Gen Z sees itself as the most important brand.
One of their least favorite aspects of the web is advertisements, primarily because today’s advertisements aren’t personalized or predictive of their wants and needs. Against that backdrop the only way to break through is to entertain first and then inform.
Gen Z grew up never knowing a world without digital experiences, so the quest for information wasn’t ingrained in them as much as leveraging those experiences for personal entertainment. They take the information part for granted while richer, more vivid entertainment options are continuing to evolve and those are much more interesting to them. Much like sports historically brought people together, digital entertainment brings Gen Z together.
If a shift is occurring in digital trends towards “entertain me” does that not contradict gaining more authenticity, less fraud, less ID theft and less trustworthiness?
Mary Ellen Dugan: Not necessarily. Gen Z’s need for authenticity, security and personalized, predictive digital experiences doesn’t seem out of the ordinary to them and in fact it helps them access entertainment in a more secure way.
While prior generations experienced firsthand the vulnerabilities of the Internet in the form of data hacks and ID theft, Gen Z sees digital security as something that helps them get what they want from it. They crave authenticity in all aspects of these digital experiences, and see security enabling better, more personalized and, eventually, more predictive interactions.
To draw an analogy to automotive transportation, before you could go really fast, you had to ensure you had really good brakes.
LA Tech News: Do you feel dependency on digital is positive or negative? How? Why?
Mary Ellen Dugan: It’s hard to say it’s positive or negative because there are many nuances to how Gen Z sees the digital world.
While some might say it insulates or isolates them from the ‘real’ world and causes them to be less involved and engaged in the world around them, they don’t see it that way. In fact, they believe that being online unites them with millions of people around the world in a way that was previously unavailable to other generations.
You can’t blame Gen Z for relying on the Internet so much when most of their primary and secondary schooling, healthcare and professional lives have been online.
It isn’t positive or negative to them, it’s just the natural way to do everything. For instance, a member of Gen Z was asked why he was always on his mobile phone. His answer is indicative of how his generation sees life via digital experiences: “Because everyone I care about is on there.”
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