Younger B2B buyers look to the Web – for even the BIG budget stuff…

It may be time to adjust the strategy when it comes to selling to younger B2B buyers. Buyers younger than 35 are 131 percent more likely to make online corporate purchases than those older than 35, according to a study from the digital marketing company Acquity Group.

In fact, the younger the B2B buyer, the more likely they are to purchase online. The study, “2013 State of B2B Procurement,” found that 90 percent of B2B buyers age 18-35 make purchases online; 68 percent age 36-45 make company purchases online; 45 percent age 46-60 make company purchases online; and 29 percent older than 60 make company purchases online.

Not only are younger folks more willing to go to the Web when making company purchases, they also spend much more time researching products online before buying. B2B buyers older than 60 were most likely to research less than 10 percent of the time, and those 26-45 were most likely to research 50 percent of the time or more. Buyers younger than 60 spend one to two hours on average researching before making a major purchase of $5,000 or more, while buyers older than 60 spend 30 minutes or less on research before making a major purchase.

“The significant difference between age groups in time spent researching is likely a reflection of experience and an expectation of substantially more robust content,” said Robert Barr, senior VP at Acquity Group. “Younger buyers are more attuned to the online shopping experience and less familiar with options in B2B e-commerce, likely leading them to spend longer doing research across sites, especially third-party sites, when information on the supplier’s website isn’t readily available.”

These trends mean it is more important than ever for B2B marketers to make sure their content is highly relevant to their target audience and being widely distributed on both social and mobile channels to reach these technologically savvy younger buyers.

However, Acquity Group’s report, which surveyed 207 buyers with annual procurement budgets of $100,000 or more across a wide range of industries, suggested B2B marketers look to the innovative Amazon Supply for an example of how to reach younger B2B buyers. Sixty-three percent of buyers age 18-35 have purchased from Amazon Supply at least once, and 40 percent purchase frequently from Amazon Supply, the report said.

“The next generation of B2B buyers is highly connected, and expect an easy-to-use and highly-targeted online experience, but most suppliers don’t offer capabilities comparable to familiar consumer sites, such as Amazon,” Barr said. “This trend of online purchasing continues to rise and B2B suppliers must have an online presence that promotes familiarity and research capabilities, or consumers will go elsewhere.”

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