Close to Half of All B2B Product Researchers Are Digital Natives

BY Courtney Huckabay
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Digital natives who grew up with the internet and smartphones have transformed the way B2B buyers research purchases, qualify vendors and make purchases — changing the rules of the game for marketers and product managers, Harvard Business Review reports.

"Some 73% of 20- to 35-​year-​olds are involved in product or service purchase decision-​making at their companies, according to a study of “millennial” buyers by Merit, with one-​third reporting that they are the sole decision-​maker for their department."

"And about half of all B2B product researchers are digital natives, a number that increases every year, according to a Google/​Millward Brown digital survey of buyers. When a company needs a product or service, buyers turn first to research on their laptop or smartphone rather than immediately calling vendors or hosting meetings."

B2B businesses will do well to consider upping their digital presence in order to appeal to the millennial decision makers. One segment in particular, can reach out to Gen Y through digital means: hiring agencies. The newest AudienceSCAN survey revealed 3% of small business owners said they will approve and/​or pay for employment/​personnel agency services for their companies. And 23% of them are aged 25 to 34.

"More than 70% of searches start with a generic search, such as “CRM software,” rather than a search for specific brands," HBR reports. "Contacting a salesperson occurs later in the typical purchase process, and sometimes not at all. By the time a sales rep gets involved, buyers already have a wealth of information about company reputation, product specifications and reviews of successes or failures."

"A 2017 Forrester Research study indicates that digital natives prefer short bursts of information, often in visual formats, and they think phone calls are tedious and disruptive."

B2B companies should take note of millennial preferences and incorporate them in marketing campaigns. The latest AudienceSCAN survey showed 29% of Employment Agency Decision Makers took action based upon sponsored search results (like on Google, Yahoo or Bing) in the past 30 days.

"Vendors’ websites thus need to provide a wealth of information on these types of value, with details on where their products have been successful. Reviews will tell the buyer how a vendor performs on many ease-​of-​doing-​business elements long before the buyer has actual experience with that vendor. So vendors must curate their online content deliberately and constantly, and they should encourage customers who are advocates of the company to provide reviews on relevant sites."

"Research at Santa Clara University finds that this group respond favorably to salespeople who evoke feelings of trust, compatibility, and connectedness, in contrast to buyers 50 and older who focus more on business benefits and deliverables."

The most recent AudienceSCAN research reported 39% of Personnel Agency Decision Makers said they usually read reviews or comments from others who have already purchased the product they're considering.

"The Merit study finds that fully 80% of millennial B2B buyers today (and an even higher share of the youngest millennials) feel that companies’ environmental, social and philanthropic efforts are important when considering them as vendors."

AudienceSCAN data is available for your applications and dashboards through the SalesFuel API. Media companies and agencies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.