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Study: Millennials Starting To Take Over B2B Purchasing

By Scott Costa, Publisher, tED magazine

Based on countless pieces of research on demographics, the reality remains that it is only a matter of time before Millennials become extremely influential in not just electrical distribution, but in the business world as a whole. That research shows in the next four and a half years, Millennials will make up more than half of the world’s workforce, while other research shows Millennials will be making key decisions in the workplace before 2025, 10 years from now.

But then I came across some new research that shows it’s actually happening now, and in greater numbers than first expected.

According to a study just published by Google and Millward Brown, a world-wide branding and marketing research company, the B2B marketplace has changed very rapidly over the past two years. The study shows that Millennials are not only using the internet to search for their purchasing options, they are also quickly becoming the people responsible for making the decisions on which products will be purchased.

The researchers received responses from 3,000 purchasing agents in a variety of industries. The results show 89% use the Internet during the research process, which is actually a lower number than the National Association of Wholesaling/NAED research done 18 months ago. The NAED research showed the number of purchasing managers who use the Internet to shop for products was 91%.

B2B Path to Purchase StudyGoogle/Millward Brown Digital, B2B Path to Purchase Study, 2014.

The significant change comes from the number of Millennials who are making the B2B purchases. In 2012, 27% of the employees buying B2B products were between the ages of 18 and 34. Just two years later, that number jumped to 46%. Nearly half of all purchasing researchers and agents are now Millennials. Also, when you combine the 18-34 age group with the 35-44 age group, you find that the two together make up 68%, more than 2 out of every 3, of the purchasing agents. As expected, they are using the Internet to make their purchasing decisions.

The research also shows that more Millennials are having an impact on the purchasing decisions. In the past, that seemed to be a C-suite decision. But the 2014 data shows 81% of the non C-suite employees have an influence over what is being purchased. The researchers conclude that if you are marketing only to the C-suite level, you are missing an opportunity to target an audience that is starting to grown in influence.

B2B Path to Purchase StudyGoogle/Millward Brown Digital, B2B Path to Purchase Study, 2014.

And finally, the research shows these new purchasing agents are not just using a desktop computer to do their research. In fact, 42% say they are using a mobile device during the B2B purchasing process. If your website is not mobile-user friendly, you are again missing out on an opportunity to connect with an influential section of your audience.

The researchers also point out that purchasers are using those mobile devices to watch videos about products they might be interested in purchasing. When asked what they did after they watched the videos, the most common responses were looked for more information on the product, visited the company’s website/store and shared the video with someone else. 

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