Thrifty shoppers. Hipster lingo. Socially conscious. Tech-savvy and always plugged in. if you have not guessed it by now, these are all words that have been used to describe the millennial generation, those youngsters born after 1980 and the force driving a new type of marketing.
The approach millennials take to buying products as consumers is one driven by honesty and values, research through social media channels and recommendations from friends and family. But what does this have to do with the B2B industry?
Millennials approach business with a unique set of requirements when it comes to the buying and selling experience in the B2B world. As this generation takes on positions in the work force involving purchasing decisions, their choices are having an influence on B2B marketing and the industry as a whole.
IBM conducted a survey of individuals who “influence or are responsible for B2B purchasing decisions of $10,000 or more for their company”, the results showed that the behavior of the millennials was different when compared to Gen X and Baby Boomers, as were the expectations they held for B2B purchasing.
B2B marketers engaging with the millennial generation would be wise to take notice of this group which currently makes up the majority of the American workforce and will be a driving influence in the years to come. The 18-34 year old crowd accounts for just over 53% of the U.S. Labor force, as reported by Pew Research in early 2015.
Millennials and the Buying Experience
- More than half make personal buying decisions based on recommendations from peers when it comes to consumer products and services.
- For B2B, millennials want to interact with vendors, to know what it may be like to work a particular company.
- Face-to-face meetings are preferred during the sales cycle, but email and phone come in close seconds.
- When considering a B2B purchase, the top two influencers were a company’s data analysis and recommendations from others.
- Almost 50% of potential buyers who research B2B products are millennials, an increase from 2012 and now the largest generational group researching B2B as potential buyers.
Responding to Millennials as a B2B Industry
IBM recommends B2B marketers stay relevant with their brand while delivering an omni-channel experience. Professionals in the industry need to remain trustworthy and hardworking in order to remain a reputable source of information. There is also no hesitation on a millennial’s part to share freely their positive experience with others, meaning no sharing at all could indicate a negative experience.
So how can B2B marketers respond?
- Be straightforward. Millennials as a generation value transparency and honest interaction.
- Be socially connected. Do not present a sales pitch-tell a compelling story. Understand as much as possible where an individual is coming from and what is important to him or her.
- Be prepared to meet face-to-face, then give the potential buyer time to make a decision.
- Be ready to close the sale quickly and easily through digital channels.
- Be on the lookout for buying habits of millennials, then adjust marketing strategies accordingly.
Reaching Millennials with B2B Marketing
This generation is changing much in the business world, and a plethora of studies proves that point time and time again. As they take on opportunities at work to influence purchasing decisions and make their voice known, the B2B industry will feel the effects.
How your marketing tactics change to meet the needs of this group will make the difference in gaining their confidence and capturing their attention. Relevant and real content which allows for easy access to data is crucial to B2B marketing tactics that will impact this tech-dependent, business-savvy group.
How have you interacted with millennials in your B2B marketing? What tactics have you employed in order to provide a quality experience to millennials as a generation?