In my last contributionI checked the results of a recently published research report that examined the attitudes and behaviors of millennial B2B buyers.
Work in BETA: The emerging B2B decision-makers (“Work in BETA”) have been published by the B2B Institute, a think tank funded by LinkedIn, and the market research company GWI. The report was based on surveys of over 17,000 business people and focused on the attitudes and behaviors of people between the ages of 21 and 40. The surveys were conducted in 2020 and included respondents from ten countries.
Numerous previous studies have shown that millennials are playing an increasingly important role in B2B buying decisions, and the work in BETA surveys confirmed that millennials have become key players in B2B buying. Forty percent or more of millennial respondents said they had an impact at every stage of the buying process, including identifying business needs (57%), researching potential vendors (41%), evaluating vendors (40%), and approving the Final purchase (47%).
Many of the attitudes and behaviors identified through work in BETA research are neither new nor exclusive to Millennials. But they’re more important now because millennials have become key decision makers for a lot of B2B purchases.
The results of the Work in BETA surveys are interesting in themselves, but also have important implications for B2B marketers. I will discuss three of these implications in this post and the following two.
The ubiquitous smartphone
Millennials have been connected to smartphones for years, but BETA’s work has shown that smartphones have become the device of choice for millennials for both personal and professional purposes. Among millennials, smartphones have outpaced laptops and desktops, becoming the most widely used device for work-related activities. Over 70% of millennial respondents said their smartphone is the most important device in their daily life.
It’s also clear that millennials use smartphones for a wide variety of activities. GWI’s study tracks 35 online activities, and the company found that millennials were more likely than older business people to do all activities on a smartphone. And on average, millennials perform 14 of the 35 activities exclusively with a smartphone.
Implications for Marketers
Given the results of Work in BETA, B2B marketers should assume that many (possibly most) interactions with millennial business buyers will be through smartphones. Hence, marketers need to ensure that their content can be viewed easily on these devices.
The more significant implication for marketers, however, is that always-on, always-on smartphones have enabled people – including B2B decision-makers – to access and consume information unlike the world before the smartphone.
Almost six years ago, Google introduced the concept of micro-moments to the marketing world. Google argued that the customer’s buying journey is fragmented and largely made up of many short interactions that typically involve a smartphone. Google claimed that people are increasingly using smartphones in their spare time to have brief, impromptu interactions for specific purposes – i.e., micro-moments.
Sridhar Ramaswamy, then Senior Vice President of Ads & Commerce at Google, described micro-moments as follows: “Micro-moments occur when people reflexively turn to a device – increasingly a smartphone – to respond to the need to learn something, to do something, discover something, see something or buy something. “According to Google, companies have to win in these micro moments in order to maximize marketing success.
Micro moments place high demands on marketers. The Google study found that people who interact in a micro-moment have high expectations for immediacy and relevance. As a result, marketers need content resources that work effectively in these brief encounters. Not only do marketers have resources that can be easily viewed on smartphones, they also need to develop and deliver “bite-sized” content resources that can be consumed easily and quickly.
Google’s first discussion of micro-moments focused on consumer behavior. Work in BETA’s study shows that the ubiquitous use and trust of decision-makers from millennial businesses in smartphones have made micro-moments a prominent feature of the B2B marketing landscape.
Illustration courtesy of Aaron Yoo via Flickr CC.