B2B Buying: Millennials vs. Gen X and Baby Boomers

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by Ayaz Nanji
Millennials B2B buyers want to interact directly with vendors’ representatives far more than Gen X or Baby Boomers buyers when researching products and services, according to a recent report from IBM.

The report was based on data from a survey of 704 people who influence or are responsible for B2B purchasing decisions of $10,000 or more for their company. Respondents came from 12 countries and 6 industries.

The researchers compared the responses of Millennial employees (born 1980-1993) with those of Gen X (born 1965-1979) and Baby Boomers (born 1954-1964).

Millennial buyers rely most heavily on information provided by vendors when researching products and services, the analysis found.

In contrast, Gen X buyers rely most on third-party articles/blogs/reviews to research vendors, and Baby Boomers rely most on tradeshows.

Below, additional key findings from the report.

Communication Methods

Although Millennials highly value communicating with vendors, they’d rather these interactions be remote instead of face-to-face; some 69% of Millennials say they prefer email interactions, whereas only 24% prefer in-person meetings.

Vendor Attributes

Millennial buyers value ease of doing business most when evaluating a vendor; Gen X buyers look for assurances that they’ll be satisfied with their purchase; Baby Boomer buyers prize a vendor’s ability to respond quickly.

Decision to Purchase

When Millennials are about to make a major B2B purchasing decision, the top two influencers are their organization’s data analysis and recommendations from friends/family; Gen X and Baby Boomer buyers, in contrast, value their own personal experiences and impressions most.

About the research: The report was based on data from a survey of 704 people who influence or are responsible for B2B purchasing decisions of $10,000 or more for their company. Respondents came from 12 countries and 6 industries.