According to a Special Report from Chief Marketer, charting the B2B Millennial path to purchase and figuring out what really influences their buying decisions, Millennials are already at the B2B table. More than one in three American workers are now Millennials and these digital natives don’t respond to marketing the same way as their Gen X and Boomer predecessors.
Mike Neumeier, principal, Arketi Group, describes the situation as “… we spent the last 20 years wringing our hands about the Baby Boomers… now we need to create messages for a younger group… the stock photo of the young guy in the business suit doesn’t resonate today… that guy is 55 now… Millennials don’t wear suits and ties… “
Michael Sichmeller, vice president/director of customer experience design at Gage, says “… there’s no silver bullet to reach this audience… a mix of channels and approaches is best… (but) you can’t just hop on this trend and try to be ‘fake Millennial’ in a way that isn’t authentic,”
To connect with Millennials, B2B marketers should look beyond personas to behaviors. “… B2B is a complex environment…break out the buyer experience across channels… consider how they research products… and their experience (with your brand)… “ notes Heather Wadlinger, director, customer experience/research and strategy, Sacunas.
“Because they’re so digital savvy, many people think of Millennials as a whole new breed of people and that’s a mistake,” says Kim Finnerty, vice president, strategic consulting, Epsilon. “They’re people like everyone else and there are subgroups of them— when you look at them by lifestage, they look similar to other generations.”
Types Of Content Do Millennials Prefer When Making B2B Purchasing Decisions
% of Millenials Preferring
Source: Sacunas, The Next Generation of B2B, April 2016
Millennials want to do their own research and are open to high touch later in the process. “Millennials are consensus decision makers—Boomers and Gen X will make decisions on their own. Millennials want the support of their team,” Wadlinger says.
A new survey by Arketi Group found that 61% of Millennials describe their role in technology purchases within their organization as decision-maker and 34% report having budget and/or final sign-off authority. By comparison, 23% of Baby Boomers and 27% of Gen X report the same budget and sign-off authority.
Millennials’ most frequently used sources of information when it comes to information sources that most influence enterprise technology buying.include:
- Industry analysts (38%)
- Vendor faceto- face meetings (36%)
- Vendor websites (33%)
A greater number of baby boomers rely on:
- Industry analysts (50%)
- Colleagues (49%)
- Vendor face-to-face meetings (48%)
The top of gen x’s list includes:
- Colleagues and vendor websites (both at 40%), and
- Analyst and trade shows (both 38%)
Search is the top way Millennials begin their research process, says the report, starting off with generic terms and then narrowing down their queries. They go beyond product attributes, looking at the companies themselves and the people who work for them.
Surveying over 2,000 Millennials about their B2B social media and buying habits, the youngest Millennial cohort surveyed (ages 20-24) cited social as being more important to the decision making process than cohorts ages 25-29 and 30-35, and view social causes as more important than older Millennials.
A quarter of respondents said search was the most important channel for researching new products and services, while:
- 11% said social.
- 20% said vendor websites
- 17% peers or colleagues,
- 12% salespeople
- 11% industry publications
- 4% trade shows
According to the IBM Institute for Business Value Millennial Survey,
when Millennials are looking for in a B2B vendor, the top priority was ease of doing business (35%), followed by willingness to work collaboratively with their organization (33%), and industry/marketplace experience (31%).
By comparison in the IBM study, Generation X gave the ability to deliver products/services to their satisfaction (44%) top priority, followed by:
- Reputation (35%)
- Expertise (34%)
Boomers cited, as their top vendor concerns:
- Ability to respond quickly (42%)
- Commitment to social/environmental responsibility (33%)
- Willingness to work collaboratively (31%)
- Use of latest technologies (31%)
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