Commentary

Digital Channels Kickstart Millennial Searches

According to a new study by Sacunas, The Millennial Digital Evolution In B2B, most millennials surveyed are involved in B2B purchase decision-making at their companies, with one-third of millennials being the sole decision-maker. Millennials’ leading choices of social channels to research B2B products and services are Facebook and YouTube. Most millennials report using LinkedIn with just over half using LinkedIn on a weekly basis, says the report.

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The Pew Research Center reports that “Millennials have surpassed Generation Xers as the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. In 2015, there were approximately 55.2 million millennials in the U.S. workforce. The Department of Labor predicts that by 2025, the workforce will grow to include 74 million millennials.”

     Pew Research Center, 2015

The research revealed that millennials are turning primarily to digital channels in the initial phases of researching new products and services, says the report. These channels include search engines, vendor websites and social media. More than one-third of millennials use Glassdoor to assess company reviews and decide whether or not to engage vendors.

Millennials rate video content as their most preferred channel to research B2B products and services. Marketing tactics that relay practical, relevant and specific data-driven information resonate with millennials, says the report. The youngest millennial cohort (ages 20-24) considers social media, video and social causes more important than other cohorts (ages 25-29 and 30-35).

Millennials bring new expectations to the workforce because of their significant exposure to technology and experience as B2C consumers, says the report. Many millennials don’t think workers should be expected to stay with an employer for more than a year, says the report. They are also more proficient in technologies that did not even exist 10 years ago. Millennials have more entrepreneurial spirit and are over two times more likely than past generations to either own or start a company.

73% of millennials are involved in product or service purchase decision-making at their companies. Approximately one-third of millennials report being the sole decision-maker for their department. Significantly more male millennials report being the sole decision-maker as compared to female millennials.

 

Decision-making responsibilities also increase with their age. 67% of millennials 20-24 years old report being involved in overall (net) decision-making. This number increases to 72% of millennials aged 25-29 being involved, and 77% of those ages 30-35 being involved in overall decision-making.

Level Of Involvement In Researching And Purchasing New Products Or Services

Level of Involvement

Male

Female

I am the sole decision-maker

39%

28%

Share in decision-making responsibilities

24

25

Some influence, but don’t make the final decision

15

15

Not involved in decision-making

22

32

Source: Sacunas, April 2017

56% of millennials indicate that digital channels such as search engines, vendor websites and social media are the most important channels for researching new products and services, says the report. After digital channels, people channels are the most important – peers, colleagues and sales persons. Millennials are less likely to rank industry publications and trade shows as being important.

The youngest millennials indicate the highest preference for digital channels: ages

  • 20-24 – 62%;
  • 25-29 – 52%;
  • 30-35 – 57%.

63% of millennials report using LinkedIn with one-third using it on a weekly basis or more. When researching new products and services to make B2B purchasing decisions, millennials prefer video-based content and case studies. Younger millennials (ages 20-24) prefer video-based content the most (35%) as compared to the other millennial age segments (ages 25-29 – 27%; ages 30-35 – 27%). Infographics and webinars resonated the least with millennials.

Most millennials turn to digital channels such as search, vendor websites and social media to research new products and services. Google’s research indicates that most B2B researchers start online queries with generic search terms, and they average about 12 online searches before engaging with a specific vendor’s site. This implies that millennials are initially searching with product or service-based terms to learn about potential offerings. Millennials use vendor websites to learn about new product and service offerings. These websites must clearly and succinctly convey the company’s value proposition and key product or service differentiators, says the report.

As millennials identify their top brand contenders, they shift from researching products to researching vendors. Companies’ digital brand presence becomes key. Millennials turn to social media, such as Glassdoor and LinkedIn to investigate others’ experiences with companies of interest. Digital channels must integrate with mobile and other marketing channels with keen attention to the brand interactions at each touchpoint, as well as the experience between them, concludes the report.

For the complete report and additional information, please visit Sacunas here.

 

 

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