Business and marketing leaders have been talking about millennials and how to reach them for years – and with the oldest members of that generation turning 40 this year, they’re no longer the new kid on the block. A 2019 TrustRadius study found that 59% of all B2B buyers are Millennials, nearly 30% of them are prime buyers for their organization, and as of last year, Millennials have been the largest B2B tech buyers by age group. But Gen Z is also joining the ranks – a recent article by Inc. states that Generation now makes up roughly 25% of workers and 40% of global consumers. It is no longer possible to ignore the influence of these two groups in the workplace.
The pandemic has also impacted the growing influence of these generations, as Pew Research says the retirement pace for baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) has accelerated over the past year. In addition, Forrester’s B2B Buying Study for 2021 shows that even if many people continue to work from home, more purchases will be made by shopping groups or committees than by individual decision-makers. This increases the likelihood that graduates and new hires will be part of the buying process, even if they don’t yet have final decision-making power.
As a longtime provider of B2B marketing data, I’ve learned the importance of understanding the differences between Millennials and Gen Z in the workplace and as potential buyers. Here are 5 characteristics to consider when planning your B2B marketing:
1. You are technologically up to date and expect a seamless experience.
One of the most obvious characteristics of these groups is that they are extremely tech-savvy. Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) grew up learning new technologies, while Gen Z (born after 1996) are the first generation digitally born – they were born into it. As such, they expect a seamless, omnichannel experience that is people-centered and relevant to them.
2. They’re suspicious of marketing, so don’t “sell” them.
Millennials and Gen Z are both characterized as suspicious of marketing messages and are knocked out by excessive advertising marketing or aggressive sales tactics. Younger generations tend to join the buying process much later than older generations, with buyers doing more independent research across multiple sources. As a marketer, you should provide valuable, helpful content that encourages these prospects to connect with you on their terms.
3. They value their colleagues’ opinions about a brand.
Millennials and Gen Z trust their peers’ opinions on branded content, or so-called experts, and turn to them first when doing purchase research. Don’t tell them your solution is the best, let your customers do it. Encourage customers to leave reviews on your website – or better yet, on a third-party review page for greater transparency. You can do this in your campaigns by providing links to review forms or by providing incentives for a review to be completed.
4. They expect honesty and recognize inauthenticity.
Both Gen Z and Millennials are known to value honesty and to have an eye for spotting spurious messages. In particular, Gen Z prefers open, open communication and speaks out when a company’s words sound hollow. Marketing content for these groups doesn’t necessarily have to be formal and business-like. Campaigns can be fun and informal, using relevant pop culture or emoji trends, as long as the message is accurate and branded.
5. You value transparency and corporate responsibility.
According to TrustRadius, Gen Z is more pragmatic while Millennials are idealistic. But both corporate responsibility and social awareness are highly valued. Gen Z, in particular, is more diverse, inclusive and engaged in aligning their values with those of their employer and the companies they work with. Make your company values known and above all be consistent and assert yourself.
Whether you are a Millennial or a Gen Z member or not, it is important to understand how these groups are generally involved in the B2B buying process so you can customize your messages, choose your channel reach, and change your overall campaign strategy To Achieve More Effectively. You can use a variety of tools – including identity diagrams, intent data, and business contact data – to better understand the traits and traits of prospects in these age groups. This helps with personalization, segmentation, and your ability to resonate with and reach these important audiences.
In many ways we are experiencing a “changing of the guard”. Understanding generational differences can have an impact on how you reach out to younger groups, communicate with them, and ultimately win them over as customers. If Millennials rise through the ranks and Gen Z continues to step into the workforce and claim a voice, their power and influence will only continue to grow.
Author: Paula Chiocchi
Paula Chiocchi, CEO and Founder of Outward Media, Inc. (OMI), is an award-winning marketing industry veteran whose mission it is to help companies reach their full potential by effectively reaching their audiences and converting more prospects into customers . OMI’s high quality business contact data is used by Fortune 1000 companies. Show complete profile >