Marketing To Millennials: Promoting Industry, Not Individuals

Appealing to the decision-makers of tomorrow, the millennials, is an increasingly complicated challenge for marketers, particularly those working across B2B businesses.

According to research, 84% of millennials do not trust traditional advertising. Given that they have matured at a time when it’s possible to simply fast-forward through television ads, and they are more likely to see sponsored social media posts on their phone than notice billboard advertisements, this is unsurprising. Millennials have grown up surrounded by innovative technologies—also making them much harder to impress—so how can B2B businesses reach these decision-makers of tomorrow?

The ‘B2B consumer’

In 2017, the consumer is king. This factor has also impacted B2B marketing, with marketers now tasked with appealing to the individual decision makers in businesses; in essence, the “B2B consumer.” Marketing has entered the era of specialization and niche messaging; a single marketing message is no longer enough. Adding further complication, the generations rising up the ranks to become decision makers know which marketing appeals to them; that is, marketing that genuinely values their interest, and not just their money.



Capturing the attention of B2B consumers demands that organizations create stories that align themselves with industry innovation. The insurance industry has managed to do this particularly well with smart devices such as telematics and wearables, despite not typically being considered an early adopter of new technologies. This tactic is advantageous in industries that focus on the discovery and development of something new such as pharmaceuticals, where this means a new drug or medical device. For these industries, it’s important to align the company with broader innovation by promoting regular breakthroughs, as a part of a B2B consumer marketing approach.

Digital natives, and other B2B consumers, don’t want to be bombarded with marketing buzzwords, they want stories that engage them. Accordingly, B2B marketers should favor a more story-driven approach spread across a variety of media. For example, internet video traffic is predicted to account for 82% of all consumer internet traffic by 2021. Whereas video it is not currently heavily used by B2B marketers, it is vital that they develop a narrative-focused, immersive marketing strategy using platforms like video to their advantage.

Marketing pharmaceutical innovation

Individual “big” pharma businesses have long been focused on their own individual successes. However, many are starting to understand the need to promote the progress of the whole industry to their B2B consumers. But in targeting a millennial audience, to truly differentiate, then businesses need to actively contribute to moving innovation forward within the industry.

Currently, with big pharma continuing to labor under a productivity deficit — 45% of its total forecast revenue comes from external sources — fostering industry innovation is crucial. Our company is playing a part in steering industry development through a start-up project. This virtual hub offers a platform to the most innovate start-ups selected from over 100 applicants to promote their own innovative technologies to the pharmaceutical industry while creating inspiring and insightful stories that can appeal to millennial B2B consumers.

The new face of industry

With businesses battling to meet customer expectations and overtake competitors, industries are progressing at breakneck speed. At the same time, organizations are trying to maintain their originality in an ever-more technologically advanced world. While innovation is the way to move forward, there is a growing responsibility to show the rest of your industry how you innovate, and encourage them to do the same. The industry needs to learn how to keep up now that the context of marketing is changing.

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