Yes. You read right. This post is about millennials and yes, they are growing into an increasingly important target market for all B2B verticals, especially in manufacturing, technology & business services.
If you think millennials are not-so-important in the grand scheme of things when it comes to B2B marketing, well, my friend, it's time to re-evaluate. In 2014 alone, 46% of B2B researchers were millennials, according to a survey of 3,000 B2B researchers conducted by Google in cooperation with Millward Brown Digital.
In 2012, only 27% of B2B researchers were millennials. Within the following two years, the percentage of B2B researchers in each of the three older age groups decreased by about one-quarter to one-third, while the millenial group went on to conquer a greater piece of the pie.
“So what?", you might be thinking after learning that millennials now constitute the largest share of B2B researchers. "They’re not decision-makers. I can still focus my marketing efforts on nonmillennial executives." I hate to say this, but you need to re-evaluate this thought as well.
According to the same report, over 81% of non-executives influence purchasing decisions. To put this into a more poignant light, “Clearly, if you're marketing only to the highest level, you're overlooking the people who need to notice you,” Google points out.
So, what gives? How are millennials different from other generations? Let us count the ways:
1. They Care About Your Message The Most
What's the best way to win over millennials? Stand for something positive.
Millennialls care about branding too just like previous generations. But instead of looking at the superficial queues, like your logo or your celebrity endorser, millennials tend to dig deep and find out what you really stand for. As a matter of fact, over 37% of millennials say they are willing to purchase products or services at a higher cost if the corresponding brand values a message they believe in.
2. They’re Highly Collaborative And Engaged
Millennials are more collaborative than people of other generations in general. “Contrary to previous generations, Gen Y-ers were brought up in an atmosphere of equal relationships and co-decision-making,” according to a Pew Research Center report.
They want to participate in the co-creation of products and brands, and over a whopping 70% of them feel a responsibility to share feedback with companies after an experience with their products or services.
3. They Take More Risks
Forbes reported that millennials are more than twice as willing as people in older generations “to encounter danger in pursuit of excitement.” This characteristic pertains to business because it means they are more apt to take a chance on a product, a service, or be the subjects of and engage with marketing campaigns. Discovering a new product or idea is particularly exciting to them. On that note, millennials tend to be bored with the status quo and the lack of brand interaction.
4. They Crave Direct Contact
There is nothing more that millennials crave other than experience. Millennials immerse themselves in branded events, mixers, meetups, live or recorded webinars, trade shows, and other interactive forms of communication. They want you to reach out to them in a tangible manner in a memorable way.
The IBM Institute for Business Value Millennial Survey 2014 shows how much B2B millennials differ from the two older generations with respect to who they want to meet while researching products they’re interested in buying. The survey gave each generation nine options. The B2B millennials’ first choice was meeting with vendor’s representatives. Going to trade shows and conferences tied for second with meeting with “colleagues in my organization”, reflecting their interest in collaboration. Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers ranked meeting with vendors reps seventh and fifth respectively.
5. They Rely More On Technology
This is probably the least surprising point, but you might not realize the enormity of the difference. A MarketingProfs study entitled B2B Buyers: Traits by Generation shows that 89% of millennial B2B buyers make online corporate purchases. This figure is 131% higher than people in the two older generations. In addition, millennials are more than twice as likely to use mobile devices to research products they are considering buying.
Millennials are an entire new species, if you will. So much so, that there are several commissioned studies out there to identify key behaviors and characteristics of this peculiarly creative, adventure-seeking, message-driven, and highly engaged group. They are also rapidly becoming more and more influential in the B2B world so devising a marketing strategy to capture their brand loyalty could be integral to you and your company’s future success.