Millennials are responsible for a growing number of business-to-business (B2B) purchases, and marketers need to reflect their particular values and habits.

That finding came from a survey of 34,000 executives in ten markets – including Australia, Brazil, India, the UK and US – by The B2B Institute, a think tank supported by social network LinkedIn, and research firm GWI. 

Meet the ‘BETAs’

B2B marketers are often regarded as moving slower than consumer-facing brands. The distinct expectations of millennials, however, demand a new strategic approach.

And four traits define B2B millennial employees – also known as BETAs:

  • Blurred boundaries: They do not have a firm division between home and work lives.
  • Evolving: Their careers and identities are closely linked, with an emphasis on personal branding, self-improvement, and setting trends.
  • Tech native: They demand the same quality in personal and professional technologies.
  • Activist: They expect B2B organizations to have a clear purpose.

Balancing safety and risk

While BETAs want to be seen as risk-takers, they also want safety and reassurance.

Thirty percent of BETAs, for instance, would consider bringing in a product or service to stay in line with the latest trends, versus 20% of 51–64-year-olds. BETAs, however, also desire validation for their decisions, and are 1.62 times more likely than other groups to adopt a product or service because they know a competitor is using it.

Familiarity is a critical driver

The more youthful pool of executives displayed a greater propensity than older buyers to choose a provider that they are already familiar with.

And the hunger for corroboration, the survey noted, was based, in part, on the higher number of stakeholders that BETAs have to bring on side. The average millennial employee works with 7.4 people and 2.7 departments when reaching purchase decisions. These figures stand at 5.5 and 2.4 respectively for 41–64-year-olds.

The big idea

“For the BETAs , we see them jumping out for wanting to improve innovation and, crucially, wanting to keep up with the competition. It matters that they're seen as current and contemporary” – Jason Mander, chief research officer at GWI.

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Sourced from WARC