Feb 25, 2019

How Millennials are Changing B2B Buying Habits

Millennials – people born between 1981 and 1997 – account for more than a quarter of the global workforce. This makes them the most prevalent generation of workers, surpassing baby boomers in 2014 and generation Xers in 2015.

Millennials grew up using the internet. Their comfort with technology and facility with digital media have a direct impact on B2B buying habits.

This new millennial workforce is, well, a force – and since over 70% of millennials are involved in making B2B purchase decisions, their behavior should absolutely influence your B2B marketing strategy.

Can I help you? (no thanks)

Millennials prefer to do the bulk of their research on their own. This is a group of people that is comfortable with obtaining information online. “Fiercely independent” is the operative phrase here. Millennial B2B buyers are typically more than halfway through the purchasing process before they reach out to a sales representative, if they contact one at all.

Since nearly 75% of millennial buyers say they get information from a vendor’s website, it’s important to make sure that your website content is both current and comprehensive.

By the time a millennial buyer reaches out to you, they will know a lot about you and your product. Chances are that if they can’t find the information they want on your website or blog, they’re going to move on to a different vendor.

Millennials are driving the content-marketing boom

With more than 70% of B2B searches starting with a generic term, the first touch point millennial buyers have with most businesses is Google or another search engine. The best way to rank well for generic terms on Google is to provide comprehensive content around a specific topic – and that equals content marketing.

While millennial buyers start their search on Google, they will engage with multiple forms of digital media to learn about a company and its products. Top websites used by this group of buyers include Facebook and YouTube, which is why visual content such as video, infographics, images, and charts should all be factored into your marketing strategy.

Millennials also use LinkedIn when researching products and services, with over half visiting the site on a weekly basis. Millennials value transparency, honesty, and relevancy in their vendors and more than a third of them use Glassdoor to assess whether or not they want to work with a given vendor.

Amazon is essential (and more on e-commerce)

In a 2017 study by Comscore, millennials cited the Amazon app as the #1 mobile app they can’t go without. The apps that came in second and third place were Gmail and Facebook, respectively.

Amazon should be factored into your targeting strategy if you sell products to businesses, but millennials like to make online transactions for a variety of different products and services.

Since millennials have so much experience with making online purchases, they expect certain things from their vendors. First and foremost is a seamless mobile experience. If you have an online shopping cart, make sure it’s mobile friendly.

Millennials want you to tell them about new products, but this should be an automated process. More than 80% of millennial buyers also indicated that technology keeps them more informed of product choices than in the past.

And speaking of mobile…

Mobile (and social) are key

More than 80% of millennials research products and services using mobile devices. This is especially the case when traveling between meetings and when at home. This is where video is really key.

Millennials show a distinct preference for watching video to learn more about a product or service versus reading text on a mobile device.

Mobile also plays a huge role in social media access and interaction by millennial buyers. An astounding 85% of millennial buyers use social media to research products and services, with Facebook the clear preference when it comes to social platforms.

Men and women show different preferences with social platforms. This chart from digital research firm, Merit, illustrates the top social channels that millennials use to research products.

Image Source: Merit

In Merit’s survey, millennial women preferred Facebook while men preferred YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Your company is on trial

Remember how we mentioned Glassdoor as one of the resources millennials use too figure out whether  they want to work with a vendor? This interest in corporate responsibility is a key way that millennials are changing the B2B buying landscape.

The Merit study revealed that 80 percent of millennials are interested in working with socially responsible companies. Specifically, companies’ environmental, philanthropic, and social activities are very important to B2B millennial buyers.


Millennials are digital natives who have brought their online buying habits and expertise into the B2B buying space. This has clear implications for B2B marketers.

The extensive research performed by millennial buyers makes them much more knowledgeable about a vendor’s product or service by the time they speak with a sales rep. Understanding this will help you provide content that supports the millennial buyer’s desire for in-depth information.

This is a group of people that has high expectations of their vendors and aren’t afraid to walk away from the table if they don’t think you’re being transparent or offering enough value.

Your website is your biggest sales tool, but don’t discount third-party sources such as social media platforms and blogs. Make your content count. Make it mobile friendly. Make it widely accessible in a variety of ways and places.

Companies that understand the buying habits of this group of young B2B buyers and consider it in their marketing plans, will have a head start when competing in an overcrowded digital marketplace.

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