There’s a seismic shift happening in B2B buying, and it’s being driven by a powerful force — generational change.
A recent Forrester report found that Millennials and Gen Z make up 64% of business buyers. While each generation brings its own set of preferences, demands, and expectations to the market, the report shows that younger buyers are much more likely to voice their dissatisfaction than previous generations. And these tech-savvy individuals have plenty of outlets to do so, making their complaints louder than ever.
That’s why it’s important for companies to understand the needs of their younger buyers to avoid costly customer discontent.
The Generational Shift
If your brand is not thinking bigger than your physical offerings, it’s time to start. The marketplace is not just about products or services — digital platforms, social influences, company values, personalization, and authenticity all matter to younger generations.
Gen Z is made up of folks born between 1997-2012 and is the largest and most diverse generation in American history. Millennials, born between 1981-96, account for more than half of all business buyers. These generations have grown up in the age of the internet, making them tech-savvy information seekers. Forrester data shows that these generations prefer getting their information from websites, forums, and message boards over the in-person peer conversations of older generations.
They are also quicker to voice their dissatisfaction. In fact, 90% of Gen Z and Millennial survey respondents say they were dissatisfied with a vendor, compared to 71% of Gen X and Baby Boomer respondents. While the most common point of frustration among all age groups was pricing, younger buyers had greater problems with competence during the buying process and relationships with sales representatives.
The bottom line for B2B professionals: Improving your customer experience can go a long way toward acquiring and retaining younger buyers.
Establishing a community is a great way to make your brand advocates feel connected. Brand advocates are people who already use your product or services and voice their love of your product on social media channels to help grow new customers. Providing a community forum for advocates can create an avenue for product improvement, as well as training around new or lesser-known features.
“These days, communities are the heart of B2B brands,” says Krystal Wu, senior manager of community and content at ZoomInfo. “Communities are where connections become relationships, knowledge transforms into insights, and customers evolve into advocates. They’re becoming part of the product, converting it from just a ‘nice-to-have’ to a ‘must-have’ for any B2B brand looking to meet the unique expectations of younger generations and foster long-term brand loyalty.”
Advocates in Waiting
Younger generations are primed to become brand advocates. According to research by Ogilvy, 44% of Gen Z would like to submit ideas for product design, and 43% would like to participate in product feedback sessions. Additionally, 75% of Millennials and Gen Z respondents surveyed by Sid Lee USA and Angus Reid Group feel they have a voice and social capital within their communities.
Given the opportunity — and a great customer experience — Gen Z and Millennials can become your biggest champions. Consider ways to get the ball rolling, like establishing a reward system to incentivize feedback. Or create a “wish list” that customers can fill out with ideas on how your offerings can be better. You can also create exclusive offers that give customers access to discounts or VIP experiences for participating in activities like beta testing or feedback sessions. This will help you increase brand loyalty among young buyers and continuously refine your products to better meet their needs.
Social Media Influence
Leveraging social media is today’s primary channel for interacting with younger buyers to create buzz about your products. Encourage customers to review or share their experiences with your product, post updates on trending topics, or join conversations in relevant groups. You can also tap into brand influencers who have the power to sway their followers and include them in campaigns for special offers or promotions.
And be aware of the effects of bad press: 80% of young adults have reported changing their minds about a purchase after reading negative social news. This means you need to offer exceptional customer service anywhere your audience gathers.
Personalization is Key
Tailoring your messaging and assistance is ideal for every customer, but younger generations expect it. It makes them feel like a valued individual, rather than one of many.
Buyers want to be known and understood in both B2B and B2C buying situations. A study by Marigold, a relationship marketing company, showed that 76% of Gen Z buyers get frustrated when they don’t receive personalized interactions.
This goes back to brand authenticity — younger purchasers want to feel that they’re communicating with a brand that cares about and understands their needs. As you’re developing your chatbot scripts, be sure to make them engaging and personalized. It will go a long way with your customers.
Nothing is static, especially your customer base and their expectations. Companies need to continue to adjust accordingly to offer a modern buying experience that caters to the unique needs of the younger — and future — generations.