2023 Webby Trend Report January 17, 2023

Insights from Experts: Sachin Puri on Gen Z’s Focus on Authenticity

Explorations on Gen Z’s shift toward authentic and personalized digital experiences from WP Engine's Chief Marketing Officer.

The Internet has deep origins in small communities that were scattered across the web, where individuals connected, tinkered with new tools and created new meaning together. Here at The Webby Awards we’ve noticed that, once again, niche communities are appearing on every corner of the Internet, and Gen Z is joining in droves. We explored what this shift means for the future in Never Niche Enough, the 2023 Webby Trend Report. 

We conducted a survey of over 3,000 consumers across the U.S. to find where they find community online. We found that Gen Z is being drawn towards small, more focused communities. We also found that they’re on the internet almost always, with 41% saying they spend up to 21 hours a week online. This generation of digital natives holds values rooted in authenticity and prefer to appeal to the personal than the general. It’s vital that brands remain authentic in their marketing and create more personalized experiences. To further understand this shift, we spoke with Sachin Puri, Chief Marketing Officer of WP Engine.

Download the report to explore how Gen Z is centering on authenticity and why we all need to follow their blueprint!


What are the most critical features Gen Z looks for in digital experiences? 

As tech-savvy digital natives, Gen Z was born into a world of smartphones and are accustomed to finding and processing information online extremely fast. They seek mobile digital experiences that render nicely on their phones and authentic, trustworthy content that minimizes distraction and provides immediate value with its personal relevance. Authenticity is a big theme in general, as Gen Z invests time building and nurturing communities where they feel safe sharing their authentic selves. 

Because they are extremely value-based and seek to have a positive impact on the world, they gravitate toward socially conscious brands who stand for something more than the products they sell. We must share the why behind what we sell.

How will their preferences shape the future of online platforms and products? 

Lightning fast, secure, and easy to navigate digital experiences are absolute mandates for the future of all brands seeking to remain relevant. Gen Z is really Gen Everyone on this front. 

Gen Z is also shaping the future of online platforms with their willingness to exchange personal information to gain more tailored online experiences. Their expectation is that brands will deliver relevant content based on preferences shared, and protect their data. In addition, platforms that provide avenues for Gen Z to create and engage on a personal level and that allow seamless transitions between brick and mortar, web site, apps, social media will be better positioned to win them over. 

As brands engaging Gen Z, we should prioritize crafting content that educates, creates awareness, and sparks conversations amongst communities.

Gen Z invests time building and nurturing communities where they feel safe sharing their authentic selves.”
— Sachin Puri Chief Marketing Officer, WP Engine

Gen Z prioritizes safety and data privacy. What should marketers and developers keep in mind when building new experiences to attract —not alienate—this audience in 2023?

Marketers and developers should be transparent about their privacy policies and how they plan to use the data to create value for the consumer. Abiding by privacy laws is important, but we can do more to earn Gen Z trust. Privacy is a right, and it’s personal. The key question every marketer should be thinking about is what’s an explicit value exchange for a consumer’s data. 

Secondarily, marketers and developers need to build with intent. Creating safe digital communities that focus on privacy but also allow for customized experiences that Gen Z seeks, will become essential. This generation must trust the marketers and developers vying for their attention for any brand and experience to endure.

Download the 2023 Webby Trend Report for a deeper breakdown of the data, and explore what Gen Z’s shift to niche communities online means for the future.