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How Millenial B2B buyers choose subcontractors: research by IBM

If you are in PR/ marketing/new business development in the B2B segment, you’ll find these insights from the recent IBM study invaluable .

The company has continued its Millenial study series on truths and myths about this age group in the workplace and found out how they built client/vendor relationships compared to Gen Xers (born between 1965-1979) and Boomers (1956-1964).

For this study, IBM has surveyed 704 employees of different ages, from 12 countries, who are responsible for B2B product/service purchasing decision and budgets starting $10,000. The report includes all stages of purchasing journey by managers of different age groups: from researching to engaging vendors, to deciding to buy and sharing feedback online.

The major findings from the study are, as follows:

1. 59% of Millenials at work prefer to make collective buying decisions. For comparison, this figure accounts for 64% for Gen Xers and 39% for Boomers. Over a half of Millenials (53%) rely on figures and statistics for making decisions (Gen Xers—63%, Boomers—49%).

Pic.: Millenials rely more on friends and family referrals when researching vendors

Pic.: Millenials rely more on friends and family referrals when researching vendors

2. Just like any other Millenial consumers, 93% of B2B purchase decision makers of this age read online reviews about a prospective vendor; 89% believe some internal insights rather than company claims and publicly available information; 93% rely on ‘family and friends’ referrals. It is least likely that Millenials will research vendors at trade shows and conferences or ask colleagues in their organization.

3. Millenials, Gen Xers and Boomers have different priorities when choosing the right vendor. Millennials’ No1 priority is ‘ease of doing business’ (35%), while Gen Xers rate the ‘ability to deliver products and services to my satisfaction’ (44%) and Boomers choose vendors primarily for their ‘ability to respond quickly’ (42%).

Pic.: all the age groups have different priorities when choosing a vendor

Pic.: all the age groups have different priorities when choosing a vendor

4. All three generations prefer face-to-face meeting and personal communication with vendors now, however, they all would prefer to interact via phone or email more in the future. The youngest generation of managers would prefer communication via instant messengers/apps.

Pic.: communication channels: now versus future

Pic.: communication channels: now versus future

5. On average, Millenials rely more on their organization’s data analysis (36%) than personal experience (34%), unlike Gen Xers (42%) and Boomers (44%) who rate personal impressions over data.

6. Millenials are the most positive B2B clients: 70% of them are eager to share good experiences online, while just 10% may post negative reviews, comments or photos on vendor’s website or social media. Older generations are less eager to share positive reviews (55%) and slightly more eager to complain online (15%).

To learn more insights from this IBM study, please see the full report here.

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