Gen Z see voice-activated sites as future of online experience

Nearly a third (31 per cent) of Generation Z expects the internet to be able to predict what they need and alert them before they need it, while developments in AI and biometrics are set to make keyboards obsolete, according to new research.

A survey of 1,528 consumers aged 14-59 in the UK, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, and Ireland by The Center for Generational Kinetics and WP Engine, found that Generation Z, born between 1996-2015 have grown up as an internet-dependent generation with 60 per cent unable to go for more than four hours without access to the internet without feeling uncomfortable.

The survey found that this generation is expecting to see a new digital reality in the next five years, with 40 per cent expecting to be able to access the internet and make purchases online by using their voice alone through virtual assistants such as Alexa or Siri.

However, among older generations this comes with concerns over data privacy, with 78 per cent of Boomers and 68 per cent of Gen X saying they would prefer an internet where they were completely anonymous and had to order everything manually, over internet and web apps that could predict what they need at all times and provide that to them.

The research highlighted the predominantly social use of the internet amongst Gen Z users who use it to access their friends (62 per cent) and for entertainment (59 per cent).

However, older generations including Millennials (57 per cent), Gen X (63 per cent), and Boomers (67 per cent) rely on the Internet largely to access information.

The research found that the majority of consumers believe that biometric authentication such as fingerprint, voice, face and speech recognition is set to be among the top website functionalities of the future, with these new technologies making the keyboard obsolete for accessing information.

Meanwhile, Gen Z is also most likely to believe that in the next 5 years the Internet will impact our view of the world through AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) compared to older generations with 79 per cent of Gen Z expecting that all software and website or digital experiences will have digital learning and AI capabilities.

Despite Gen Z’s move towards predictive technologies, all generations show concern for the implications of growing use of artificial intelligence, with Millennials (69 per cent) even ahead of born-digital Gen Z (63 per cent) on this point.

Commenting on the findings, Fabio Torlini, senior vice president and managing director, for WP Engine said: “Gen Z are digital pioneers in that they charted the path for the rest of the world to go fully digital, and marketers ignore that path at their own peril.”

“The pandemic 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’re ahead of the rest of the world.”

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