According to the PWC report, this year 50% of the global workforce will be made up of Millennials (people born between 1980 and 2000). This is an impressive shift that any B2B company needs to take into account, especially when one considers that according to a recent Merit study, over 70% of Millennials are involved in product or service purchase decision-making at their companies.
Who are Millennials?
Millennials, otherwise known as Generation Y, have grown up in a digital world, distinct from that which has defined previous generations, especially their parents who belong to Generation X (born from 1965 to 1979). Millennials are also characterized by high self-confidence, flexibility (frequent changes in occupation, place of residence), focus on self-realization, and the so-called work-life balance. Millennials do many things differently than their parents, particularly in how they make purchases. And it is not just that Millennials are more likely to buy things online, but there are other factors at play that drive them to choose particular vendors or products. In this post, we try to trace main features of Millennials’ shopping behaviour in a way that can be applied to B2B online sales strategies.
Masters at researching
Millennials are a generation that grew up with the Google search engine. According to a Nielsen report, 53% of them claim they use online searches when shopping for common items. Millennials, because of their strong sense of self-independence and often good education level, rarely ask for help while sourcing products. B2B millennial buyers, therefore, expect that digital platforms will have accurate and comprehensive descriptions of their products or services. Millennials also appreciate fast and advanced product search functions. This can be achieved, for example, by implementing solutions like Elasticsearch in digital platform.
Emails and chat vs. phone calls
When Millennial buyers need to clarify certain information about a product, they generally don’t look for a phone contact first. As expected from a generation that is familiar with computers, Millennials are obsessed with emails. More than half of 18 to 24 year old check their email in the morning lying in bed. Another form of contact Millennials tend to gravitate toward are live chats. These are basically online chats that are placed in the form of a widget on many websites. In the case of ecommerce sites, after clicking on them you can contact a customer service representative directly. In designing the usability of the B2B digital platform for Millenials, it is worth emphasizing the possibility of contacting a sales person via email and implementing one of the many live chat apps available on the market.
Content is the king
As we mentioned above, Millennials are masters of researching. It is highly likely that when they buy a product on your B2B platform, they already know all about it. Therefore, in striving for to achieve effective sales within your online B2B channels targeting this population, you shouldn’t forget about content marketing strategies. Such a necessary minimum can be a blog with value-added articles (e.g. showing the practical application of products in the form of courses). The blog should also contain articles that create a positive image of your company. Millennials pay attention to who they buy from (they value pro-ecological and socially responsible companies). It is also worth mentioning that Millennials love video content, so short videos on product cards or inside blog articles will definitely be of great value to them.
Social profiles are a must
According to research, 79% of Millennials use various forms of social media several times a day. Therefore, Millennial B2B buyers may also look for information about the company and products on social channels when choosing a vendor. Companies lacking a social media presence may even inspire distrust. Millennials pay a lot of attention to the image of the company they buy from, as well as reviews left on social media profiles and pages with reviews. Therefore, the company that owns the digital platform should display their social channels and endeavour to incorporate their own marketing strategies when it comes to content.
Both content and social media are currently most often consumed by Millennials using mobile phones. We are sure that a mobile first approach will be one of the main trends in B2B ecommerce in 2020. In 2021, it’s estimated that 73% of ecommerce sales will be done this way. We can certainly accept that Millennials will not want to use a platform that hasn’t implemented a responsive web design (RWD). Platform owners can also impress Millennials by introducing technological innovations such as Progressive Web Apps, which allows visitors to experience a native-app-like experience on platforms.
Examples of Millennials’ shopping behavior show that an efficient B2B platform is a base on which to build a digital sales strategy. Millennials’ self-independence, research done on their own, and the popularity of social media requires business owners to develop an omnichannel approach.
Despite the specifics of B2B customers (who are usually more loyal than B2C), selling effectively to Millennials requires business marketing activities on many different sales and communication channels.