Close to Half of All B2B Product Researchers Are Digital Natives

by | 3 minute read

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.

Courtney Huckabay
Court­ney is the Edi­tor for Sales­Fu­el Today. She ana­lyzes sec­ondary cus­tomer research and our pri­ma­ry Audi­enceS­CAN research. Court­ney is a grad­u­ate of Mid­dle Ten­nessee State Uni­ver­si­ty.