January 8, 2024

The Impact of Generational Turnover: 4 Tips to Align To Changing Buying Patterns

As younger generations take on a greater proportion of leadership roles, the buying behaviors of corporations are changing to reflect their preferences. These changes in buying behaviors will require B2B marketing and sales organizations to adapt.

The Impact of Generational Turnover: 4 Tips to Align To Changing Buying Patterns

🌐 Greetings, Marketers!

Today, let's embark on a contemplative exploration of the ever-changing realm of B2B marketing. The tides are shifting, and as we unravel this transformation, three influential forces come to light: demographics, technology, and economic dynamics. Over the next few years, I anticipate these forces will have profound effects on how CMOs build their marketing strategies and organizations. Today, we explore how the first of these, changing demographics, will have a profound effect on the B2B purchase behaviors and why companies will be forced to change their approach to marketing business-to-business products and services.

Younger Generations Buy Differently

Millennials are aged 28 to 43. I'm smack dab in the middle of this range, which I mention because I suppose it gives me some credibility to talk on the topic. You be the judge! By the numbers, the average Vice President in the US is aged somewhere between 46 and 51, and the average Director-level professional between 36 and 40. In a few short years, Millennials will make up the large majority of all decision-making roles In the country. Even now, Millennials are key decision makers in a reported 73% of buying decisions and are making the final decision in 44% of B2B purchases. Those percentages will continue to increase over the next decade, and as Gen Z also enters the senior ranks of the workforce purchase behaviors will change even more. Here are 4 reasons why this trend will change the way companies make purchasing decisions, and 4 tips on how brands can adjust.

1. Digital-First Mindset:

Younger executives, raised in the digital age, bring an innate comfort and proficiency with technology. Their digital savviness will expedite the adoption of online platforms for B2B transactions, favoring seamless, efficient, and tech-driven processes.

Having grown up in an era of instant access to information, younger leaders will prefer self-guided research. We've seen this evolution in consumer products as Milennial buyers have owned that "decision making process" for over a decade. Now that they own B2B purchasing processes, we should expect more of the same. In fact, we're already seeing it. Over one third of Millennials report preferring entirely self-guided purchase processes, compared to just 9% of the generations before them. That's a profound change, and its highly likely to move closer and closer to 50% as Gen Z enters the senior ranks as well.

Tip: B2B vendors must optimize their digital presence and provide comprehensive online resources to meet this demand. This means providing not just content, but decision-making resources like cost-of-ownership calculators, interactive product selectors, and business case-generators.

2. Emphasis on Personalization:

Younger decision-makers prioritize user experience and have a strong preference for brands that provide customized or personalized user experiences. In fact, according to Accenture, more than half of Millennials report that they would switch from a brand to another if it provided more customization of its products and services and 83% have a willingness to share their data if it leads to more personalized experiences. Companies that invest in providing potential customers a great experience as Millennial and Gen Z decision makers do their own self-guided research, B2B vendors need to enhance their digital interfaces, ensuring they are intuitive, engaging, and aligned with the expectations shaped by consumer-facing technologies.

Tip: Customization and personalization will be paramount. B2B marketers should leverage data analytics to tailor their offerings and communications, recognizing the individual preferences and needs of these younger executives.

3. Demand for Transparency:

Younger leaders, accustomed to transparency in the digital sphere, will demand the same in B2B transactions. Millennials and their younger counterparts demand clear and easily accessible information about pricing, terms and conditions, and brand identity and values. In fact, in a recent survey conducted by The Org — with more than 1,000 respondents across all ages of working adults in the U.S. — 84% of millennials said they would be more loyal to a brand or company if they knew it was transparent, and the thing they valued most about transparency was knowing a company's culture and values. But be careful, authenticity is an important component as well with 88% of Millennials defining it as "Important" or "Very Important" to selecting brands they like and remaining loyal.

Tip: Crafting and honoring your commitments is pivotal in the trust-building journey. Trust isn't just forged through delivering a stellar product or solution; it's equally rooted in reliability and consistency. Maintain a steady rhythm in your content creation, actively connect with your audience, and consistently be present in the places and times they anticipate.

4. Collaborative Decision-Making:

A popular nickname for the Millennial generation has become the "Collaboration Generation." Loads of research has been done on this topic, and regardless of which study you look at you'll find that the very large majority report preferring a collaborative work environment as opposed to a competitive one. Now, Millennials are competitive, too, its just that they're more likely to take a collaborative approach to making decisions even when it means cooperating with a colleague or co-worker that you may be competing with for a promotion. This makes sense. "Teamwork" has been a core value preached to us throughout childhood and from the very beginning of our careers. Not only is it a characteristic of most young leaders; it's also much easier to accomplish today than ever before. Since the proliferation of digital collaboration tools and video conferencing software, collaborating across geographical and generational lines is now easier than ever before.

Tip: B2B vendors must recognize the importance of appealing to a group rather than an individual, tailoring their strategies to accommodate a team-centric approach. Innovative marketers are already

The influx of younger generations into senior ranks will reshape B2B purchasing patterns by ushering in a digital, experience-centric, transparent, and innovative era. To thrive in this evolving landscape, B2B vendors must align their strategies with the preferences and values of these emerging leaders. Adaptability, technological agility, and a commitment to fostering meaningful relationships will be the keys to success.

Karl Van Buren