43 Execs Explain How Millennials Impact B2B Buying Committees
September 1, 2017 | Robbie Richards
Today’s buying committees are diverse; Millennials are already taking their seats among Generation X and Baby Boomers at the buying table, making navigating the already complicated buying environment even harder thanks to their different preferences.
Though this shift might seem minor, it greatly impacts how marketing teams operate, sales teams engage, and how purchase decisions are ultimately made.
For B2B marketing and sales teams to continue finding success, they must be able to identify, acknowledge, and respond to the generational differences of today’s new buying committees.
This report looks at the differences between the rising Millennial buyer, their Generation X and Baby Boomer counterparts, and how B2B marketing and sales strategies can address the gaps between them.
To understand and identify the generational differences and impact of those differences on the B2B sales process and buyer’s journey, SnapApp and Heinz Marketing conducted a survey over two weeks in late June 2017.
The responses came from 503 professionals with buying influence and/or authority across B2C and B2B businesses, in different functional areas, and from organizations that range from SMB to large enterprise.
Respondents were pre-qualified for the survey with the question “Are you involved in either influencing, recommending, or approving a purchase for your organization or client?” Those who answered “No” were excluded from the survey.
FINAL RESULTS (PLUS EXPERT OPINION)
The final report will be released next week at Content Marketing World in Cleveland, Ohio and discussed in greater detail in the upcoming webinar titled “How Generational Differences Impact B2B Buying Committees“.
While the final results are still a week away, we decided to reach out to 43 CEOs, VPs and content strategists to get their expert opinion on some of the preliminary findings around millennial buying behaviors:
- Millennials dislike it when marketing is product-heavy, inauthentic, or lazy.
- Millennials value educational content without heavy company or product mentions.
- Millennials only want to talk to a sales rep after thoroughly researching the solution.
We asked the experts 3 specific questions:
- Are these trends you’ve experienced marketing to millennials?
- Is any of this surprising or validating?
- Any perspective on how or why this is happening?
Some of the opinions might surprise you 🙂
43 CEOs, VPs and Content Strategists Discuss How Millennials Impact B2B Buying Committees
Orbit Media | Co-Founder
Each of the findings support a hypothesis you’ve heard before: social media has set standards for online interaction for Millennials. Just look at the preferences discovered through the research. Millennials prefer and trust…
- Content from peers over content from companies
- Education over advertising
- Online interactions over in-person conversations
Sound familiar? Each of these preferences is central to social media in general, so it’s not surprising that they extend into the decision making process for purchases. As a group, they’re a more dramatic expression of trends that have been growing in the broader population.
Demand Gen Report | News Editor
It’s great to see that these results align perfectly with what we’re hearing from our reader base about the crucial need for buyer-focused messaging and content.
Creating content to specific buyer stages is considered B2B marketers’ biggest challenge, while creating product-focused content is easy due to all the information being readily available to the content creator — it makes sense why marketers tend to create more product-heavy content.
B2B buyers have a lot on the line; this hesitancy and risk aversion is tough to combat if you are not trying to alleviate their pain points and educate them through your content and messaging. That’s why it’s vital to have a firm understanding of your ideal customer — what their pain points are, what they are looking to achieve, knowledge of their industry and more. Proving that you know what’s in their best interest gains that trust and, ultimately, accelerates deals.
Vertical Measures | Paid Media Supervisor
As a millennial myself, I agree with the findings as they closely align with my consumer experience. They enjoy authentic story telling – that is why social media has become so important for marketers. It allows marketers to speak on same level as their audience. It also allows for user generated content through comments, reviews and posts from their friends increasing the trust that a millennial has in the brand.
Millennials are very smart when it comes to advertising as they have had more exposure to it than any other generation before them. In my experience, marketing that is educational, value-based and thoughtful have almost always done better than more product-centric campaigns to grow audiences at the top of funnel. However, one can’t work without the other.
When a millennial is near the end of the funnel, they don’t want to hear the story again, they are ready to buy. A more product-centric ad at the right time is going to work.
In addition, I would agree that millennials only want to take to a sales rep after thorough research. With all the instant information at their fingertips, they want to make sure they are getting the right product/service, from the right company at the right price. This doesn’t mean never reach out or call your millennial demographic, you just have to find the right time. Calling a millennial when it’s too early in the funnel will likely hurt your brand. Call too late and they have already started the buying process with your competitor.
Insight Strategy Group | Senior Director
Millennial engagement can rally around 3 core principles:
- Speak to their drive: Millennials connect with marketing campaigns that resonate with their identities and emotional experiences. They respond to products featured in a way that they see as meeting an emotional need or as aligned with a salient aspect of their identity. Nike is a brand that resonates across much of the Millennial segment because its campaigns focus on pushing your own limits, achieving the unachievable, breaking through preconceived expectations. This message is well aligned with the Millennial spirit. While their marketing typically features visuals that communicate power, strength, and innovation, they also often feature products. Because these products represent vehicles to beat personal bests (a Millennial drive, as a generation who competes with themselves rather than others), they are embraced as part of the brand identity, which they want to align with their own.
- Surprise them: In a world where so much of life feels predictable, Googleable, and mappable, Millennials are engaged by marketing content that surprises them, catches them off guard, and even makes them uncomfortable (since they tend to live in a bubble of likeminded individuals, given curated social media feeds, news sources they opt into, increasingly targeted digital ads, etc.).
- As a brand, develop a Millennial-minded personality, live and breathe it: Millennials are looking to brands that take on an identity of their own, kind of like people. They expect brands to have a voice, brand values, and even political leanings. They are drawn to brands that are likeminded, who they can imagine as part of their social circles.
HealthJoy | Chief Marketing Officer
Ugh the dreaded “Millennial” term, I guess an age band can effect a group of people but it’s such a large bucket. I personally think that Millennials are just consumers like any other group. I believe that most statements about millennial buyer behaviors is typically the trend that’s going on in the industry overall. I could believe that they might be leading a trend but I think that’s where the overall market is headed.
I think the bigger story is how the Internet and smartphones change a buyers behaviors.
As older demographics are accessing the internet via desktops and smartphones, the same changes are happening. At HealthJoy we’ve seen a big change in the number of baby boomers that are flocking to healthcare apps. Our internal studies have shown that even though the difference of adoption is a little lower, over time the difference in behavioral chance is the same with all age groups.
Prosperity Media | Consulting Director
Marketing to millennials you need to ensure that you are focusing on communities they are active on currently.
For example they would be active on Snapchat so it would pay as a brand to feature some branded content and native advertising on these channels. I would tend to agree that if you are doing a basic product campaign it will probably not stand out, you can make use of influencer marketing to promote your product who is popular with millennials this might be a better way to target the demographic.
Education and experience is the best way to promote any type of product if you offer the education for free and provide trust it will lead to sales.
Disruptor Daily | Editor-in-Chief
As a millennial who also sometimes markets to millennials, everything you’ve said rings completely true! We care about knowledge, authenticity, and a truly personalized experience. With so many options in the modern age, we’re willing to wait for the perfect fit from a company who aligns with our values and personality.
Chic Sketch | CEO and Founder
I agree with those findings. Many times Millennials will find themselves knowing more about a product from their own research than a sales rep.
There’s a lot of social influences on products and services that are easily discoverable through apps and websites, with can directly influence a Millennial’s purchasing behavior.
What’s driving this is access to a smartphone 24/7 and having the knowledge of the internet and social influences available to them in-real time. They can get an opinion from a friend through a live video chat, a sms/mms, or a messaging app. They can look at social media and find feedback not only on a product but the company producing the product itself, which can also influence purchasing / buying behaviors. You find most people go to the social networks to vent problems or concerns with products.
Companies really need to be on their game to adapt to these changing behaviors by showing their ability to address concerns in a public forum regarding their products. How they respond and how fast they respond to product related issues can make a big difference, especially for newer companies.
Sales reps need to be in the “know” regarding issues/problems/feedback to company products so they can speak more intelligently and with authority, otherwise the sale won’t convert.
The Brian Carter Group | CEO
The educational component of your findings fit with our experience marketing to many customers. I’ve seen similar things in Gen X’ers who are highly habituated to Google search and other internet tool usage.
Even the median age 55-year old fishing boat buyers of the client I’m doing a keynote for tomorrow first research and learn online before going into a boat dealer to talk to a salesperson. The same things has happened for auto buying for more ages than just millennials.
I would be curious about the product/brand mentions because in my view, if you are marketing effectively, you are starting with the customer focus anyway- on their problems or goals- the company name or product may come up but you don’t start talking about that first in any effective marketing for any generation.
Our perspective at BCG is that there is not just one type of millennial, and that simplistic marketing (oversimplification) won’t get the results brands want.
To market effectively to millennials for our clients, we’ve found it necessary to segment them, for example by more specific age ranges, life events, interests, income or other criteria. For one B2C client, we segmented millennials by age, whether they were married or not and whether they had children or not.
Also, a Fortune 50 manager recently told me there is a stereotypical millennial, but also a millennial that acts more like Gen X. Overall, I would caution anyone against trying to characterize the entire generation as just one thing, because no one millennial persona or description is accurate enough for effective targeting.
So, along those lines, I would love to see your survey findings broken out similarly into more segments, and I’d be curious how true your findings are for other generations.
Metadata.io | Founder/ CEO
Millennials dislike product-centric marketing campaigns because they appear inauthentic and lazy — of course not surprising. That is exactly why at Metadata we are always focused on the buyer persona and educational piece vs. the product.
Millennials value educational content with minimal product or company mentions 100% speaks to my first point. We always advertise product always TOFL content Marketing must prove itself to a millennial through thoughtful education and expertise (content exploring strategy development or tactical implementation) if it wants to make any impact on the purchase decision. This is not special to millenials – people want an objective opinion and compare between vendors, that’s why captora and g2crowd are successful.
Bulk.ly | Founder
This research is on par with what I have seen. It’s not surprising that millennials want to be educated when making a decision. However, I think that is the same with any smart buyer.
But when it comes to millennials (and according to this research), it comes down to how the message is delivered.
When your messaging is too product focused, you’ll run the risk of alienating your potential millennial customer base. So you’ll need to find a balance on how to lead them to the solution (your product/service) while also educating them without specifically calling out the solution if possible. Think of it as allowing them to uncover the “ah-ha” moment on their own.
And with the discovery, you’ll increase the likelihood of closing the sale with the millennial demographic.
Christine B. Whittemore
Simple Marketing Now LLC | Chief Simplifier
Millennial buying behaviors aren’t that different from any of your toughest customers who are overwhelmed with too many irrelevant messages that interrupt, waste time, and confuse. They aren’t the only ones who prefer not to speak with sales reps until they’ve thoroughly researched options, and can evaluate truth vs. fiction in a purchase decision. Who likes high-pressure, hard-sell tactics? I don’t.
What makes millennials different is that they are very sophisticated in their online behavior and react strongly against heavy-handed old-style product marketing with a know-it-all, take-no-prisoners-type attitude. They hate wasting time, despise being talked-down to and don’t trust a lot of what they come across.
At the same time, they appreciate education and knowledge that broadens their own perspectives, and helps them make sense of complexity so they can make better, smarter decisions.
What’s fascinating about companies that get it right is that their passion for what they do comes through. They constantly educate because it’s part of who they are and how they make a difference. Sounds like really smart marketing to me.
TrackMaven | Senior Director of Marketing
Millennials (myself included) put a high-premium on their digital identities. There is an “I post, therefore I am” mentality that marketers need to understand and respect. I personally won’t engage with a friend’s post unless it does one of three things: makes me laugh, introduces me to something new / relevant / valuable, or makes me feel something visceral (outrage, awe, sadness, etc.) Why should my instinct to engage with a brand’s content be any different? (Hint: they aren’t.)
To get the attention of millennials, I’ve seen two simple strategies work:
- Get a strong point-of-view (think humor, wit, or provocation) and
- Let an influencer do the talking. Millennials have more respect for their peers and idols than they’ll ever have for your brand. Use that.
Mpowered Marketing | Chief Strategist
Although I don’t directly market to millennials, I am mindful of their advancement into decision making roles. They are a savvy and vocal demographic and serve as powerful influencers in the B2B space. My strategies aim to keep this top of mind.
Millennial or not, we need to respect our audience’s intellect, values and their collective desire for the fulfillment factor. Align your brand with buyers’ values and you’ll find success. Failure to do so is nothing more than product-pushing, which is neither successful nor sustainable.
Ursa Major Media | Principal
Research about the millennial cohort has a way of contradicting itself from study-to-study, but there are likely some truisms in the research findings.
One area where I tend to disagree is the myopic take that “all millennials hate all ads.” Millennials are digital natives. They know how the sausage is made, which so many of them have proactively installed ad blockers and opt-in to subscription content services like Netflix. Since they understand how advertising’s “game” works, arguably more deeply than previous generations, they are more averse to advertising that is deliberately misleading. Millennials don’t mind marketing so long as it’s providing some sort of value, and its done in a straightforward fashion.
Consider the recent launch of Brandless, for example, which is an online grocery store that has essentially lifted the “brand tax” from its items. Its food and household items don’t have any fancy names nor do they have any sort of special marketing campaigns. The brand focuses only on its products: what’s in them, where they’re sourced from, and how they all share the same price point of $3.
This is an example of a 100 percent product-marketing approach, and while Brandless faces an uphill battle when it comes to stealing share from Amazon, Target, and Walmart, the approach itself supports the notion that millennials do care about products and not just brands.
Finally, just as product quality matters to millennials, so does the layer beyond the product and brands, and that’s the higher purpose for which a brand stands. Millennials are voting with their dollars, and the lines between CSR and marketing are becoming blurred. People want to support brands that align with their values, which is why we’re seeing a lift in issues-focused marketing campaigns over the past few years.
Build Create | Director of Marketing
Marketers have a tendency to wonder, how do we market to an entire generation? The answer is that you can’t. You want to crack the millennial code, market to individuals, not huge swaths of people. The answer is, of course, yes to all of these, but they’re also no. Yes these are important to some people but not to everyone.
We have a client who markets to a lot of millennials, but their products are focussed on “working class” buyers. They do care about product and price. Do they want to be educated about their purchase? Yes of course, but the main focus is the product’s value.
That’s why it is important to have a diverse marketing plan. Use behavior based automations to direct the right advertising and marketing message to the right audience. You can’t have one strategy for an entire generation. Heinz like most marketers seems to be looking for a silver bullet solution. While easier, it continues to be ineffective.
Scribewise | President
I don’t think the aversion to product-centric marketing is specific to millennials. In my opinion it has very little to do with age, and much more to do with the digital sophistication of the buyer; yes, millennials may be more likely to be digitally savvy than older demographics, but plenty of older folks are fed up with product-oriented marketing.
The new buyers journey applies to all age demographics – check out the graphic on this page of our website; this is how we diagram the buyers journey. Buying today is social, self-directed, trust-based and transparent… for B2B and B2C customers of all ages.
Square 2 Marketing | Founder and Chief Advisor
What’s interesting about the millennial purchase behavior feedback is it mirrors what most people think these days. In fact, our assumption is that most of our clients’ prospects are expecting the exact experience described by the millennials in your study.
And so when we work with our clients we encourage and provide guidance to create content that is NOT about their company or their product but educational in nature and that answers very specific questions prospective buyers might be asking. The better the content is at answering those questions the better the lead generation and engagement metrics.
We also know that they don’t want to speak with a sales rep until it’s required. so the offers on our client’s website have to be designed to match that behavior. This means more top and middle of the funnel offers and more creative bottom of the funnel offers. Speak With A Sales Rep and Contact Us don’t cut it anymore. You have to deliver value, even at those sales rep engaged stages or you’ll lose their trust and their business.
Clutch.co | Business Analyst & Content Marketer
As a content marketer at Clutch, I’ve done quite a bit of research on the public relations industry, including the components of a strong PR firm and the effect PR campaigns can have on consumer behavior. In particular, I’ve been fascinated by exploring the aftermath of PR crises that are most commonly caused by a brand’s failed marketing tactic, controversial messaging or even overt political stance that can cause a large public response.
In exploring the topic of PR crises, I’ve had the opportunity to learn some valuable lessons about what consumers respond to and feel affected by when it comes to marketing tactics.
In my research, I’ve found that marketing has a huge effect on the way consumers decide to spend their money. A recent survey I conducted found that when considering purchasing a new product, consumers are the most influenced by advertisements on TV, along with referrals from personal friends and family, and online reviews.
These outlets, along with many others, all contribute to a company’s marketing presence and can be a huge factor to their success. Whether they’re millennials, members of older generations, or just everyday people walking down the street, consumers are constantly exposed to and reacting to different forms of marketing that frame their perceptions of those brands. Consequently, these perceptions can change in an instant, making it hugely important for firms to have both a strong PR team and marketing strategy to solidify a positive consumer following.
The Good | Content Marketing Strategist
In our research, trust is the bottom line.
Millennials are pushing for high-quality relationships and experiences on their terms.
For many businesses, that simply comes down to being more human.
They want to know they can trust a business before they consider working with them.
That means showing interest in their problems and how to fix them rather than just going straight for their wallet.
Optim-Eyez | Marketing Influencer
As a millenial, I entirely relate to these findings!
Millenials don’t want to be sold to — they want memorable experiences.
Connection, genuine emotion and inspiration. It’s as simple as that.
The reason? Short attention spans and a world full of choice. If your brand isn’t offering exceptional experiences via education, innovation and storytelling — another 100 will be!
I’ve witnessed businesses (AND previous clientele) attempting to hard sell to millennials on social media. Even with an awesome product or service, it just doesn’t work.
Do it correctly and ‘selling’ becomes a word of the past.
B2B Marketing Technology | Digital Marketing Consultant
Regarding the first point, millennials don’t so much dislike product-centric campaigns as they have simply grown immune to them. Product-centric marketing is so overdone that millennials tend to tune it out. It’s just noise. They don’t necessarily dislike it, they just don’t care about it.
Finally, a point worth adding is that millennials are value-conscious. They aren’t looking for “cheap” but are looking for the best product at the best price. Chipotle is an excellent example; it’s not cheap, but it’s reasonably priced for fresh, high-quality fast food.
Dryrun | Founder
Right now, Millennials fall slightly to the side of our core customer segment but Dryrun is building channels and messaging that appeal to them already. Shortly, the Millennial generation will be more fully a part of the ‘bigger entrepreneurial business’ revenue phase which are the individuals that see the most value in Dryrun’s cash flow, budget and sales forecasting.
As far as Dryrun is concerned, digital marketing has far more to do with helping humans know that they can trust us and less to do with age or generational characteristics.
We could say that the statements in your question are just as true for non-digital journeys too, but Millennials help us form the clearest customer journey map given how much of their journey is trackable online. I think it’s a misconception that we have to market to Millennials in some novel and sophisticated way when trust has always been the gold key for selling.
Millennials’ motivations and aspirations are the same as other generations – seek to trade money/time for something of worth from someone of worth so we try to keep that need at the forefront of our marketing goals and larger values.
BabelQuest | Inbound Marketing
The issue of marketing to millennials is a real soapbox for me, I think “Marketing to millennials is largely the same as marketing to everyone else, it’s just that marketing has had to change in response to the way they react to marketing. As a generation, millennials have more opportunity to voice their opinions and be heard as well as more choice between brands and products – hence brands have to keep getting better to keep them engaged and spending money.
Is there really any generation who wouldn’t prefer to base a purchase decision on authentic, educational marketing rather than lazy and implausible marketing. Millennials have collectively done an amazing job in making marketers get better, they are the catalyst for smarter, people-centric marketing – and the rest of us thank them for it!
3RhinoMedia | Digital Sales + Marketing Coach
Your findings did not surprise me at all. People in the millennial generation have grown up with unprecedented access to content via the web.
Broadcast communication started dying out with the advent of the web. As the the web and social media have matured along with the millennial generation, millennial have become used to the fact that they don’t have to be forced to watch broadcast sales pitches. Instead, with a simple click or swipe, they control what information they access regarding a product or service they are considering.
This allows them to be able to expect to control the sales process and learn as much as they can before reaching out to a company or sales person. Google’s Zero Moment of Truth Study shows this as do multiple other studies.
My experience working with clients all over the world is when their content is product-centric, millennial’s feel like they are being sold to, rather then helped. When they sense this, they move on to other companies/options.
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the most powerful marketing and sales content of this day and age is content that helps guide people to make the best, most informed decision that serves their interest, not the company’s interest.
Thunder Bay Media | Content Marketer/ Founder
Millennials are spending a lot more time on research for two reasons: first, they tend to be skeptical about how they spend their money and aren’t willing to spend it like their parents did.
While millennials are spending less than Gen X and Boomers (Experian study of aggregate spending on non-essentials) they’re still buying. They’re just buying differently.
Second, they research because they can. Millennials have grown around touching multiple devices daily. Everything they’ve done online has involved engagement both with brands and their peers. When information is readily accessible, especially from trusted peers, those who know how to research a product or service are going to do it before making a purchase.
TMC Digital Media | Partner, Chief Content Officer
Millennials are certainly changing the game in how we market, but as an agency that specializes in foodservice, TMC Digital Media is poised to see how these high-level findings impact our marketing in even deeper ways.
More than any other generation, Millennials are having a tremendous impact on foodservice. They look for variety. They look for transparency. And they look for customization. By nature, we are always consuming food, so it make sense that these generational tendencies are more prevalent in our industry. That being said, you can extrapolate the need for variety, transparency, authenticity, and customization to pretty much anything.
Mash Media | SEO Strategist
The Millennial cohort, on the surface seems to be extremely fickle when it comes to what products or services to hitch their own ‘brand’ to. I would agree in part to the findings that they are not attracted to purely product-centric marketing – many start ups have a social and community cause that speaks to their peer group. In other words, you are selling a purpose rather than an item. A great example of this, is Be Bangles.
The findings showing thoughtful education about the brand or product does surprise me, as much anecdotal evidence would suggest that social media and ‘fear of missing out’ on a new brand or product that they feel aligned with is more important; is it shareable, is it photogenic, is it inspirational?
I believe the driving force behind this, is that Millennials have been taught that their ‘public’ life, on social media, is akin to their own ‘branding’ – and that their posting must be in line with this ethos, whatever that might be. If I was to create a strategy to this cohort, I would first look at what types of branding there are for the customer themselves and select those as target positioning for the client or brand.
Native Advertising Institute | VP of Audience, Partner
This research aligns with not only what I’ve consistently read from others online, but from other studies and trends throughout the industry. You can go back as far as Google’s ground breaking Zero Moment of Truth study in 2011. These findings also support the current expansion of native advertising as a content distribution channel. It’s particularly good at distributing top-funnel (helpful) content.
Our technology, trends and tactics are being shaped by the very findings represented in this study. Whether we know it or not.
Mostly Sunny | Director of Client Relations
The average millennial consumer has become sophisticated to advertising to the point where they despise ads. That’s why more than 400MM people have installed ad-blockers to prevent brands from dampening their user experience.
Ads no longer have the same effect on millennials because you can gather information on your own and besides, Millennials trust people not ads. What sells with millennials are real people with real stories backed up by real data.
In the last five years and even today, the influencer climate is based on how hot and marketable talent is. So long as the influencer has a following – people are selling them, and brands are buying. However, many brands are slowly stepping away from the talent driven model to a data-first approach since Millennials are the “show me generation.”
Frothy eloquent ads neither convince nor satisfy them if they do not trust them. Millennials are not gullible and unwilling to believe without adequate evidence that brands are trustworthy. What better way to discover the 411 about a brand than to ask peers and influencers whom they trust?
Just because people follow a certain celebrity, say the infamous Kardashian brood, doesn’t mean they trust and would take heed from their opinions. This is where the beauty of micro influencers come into play. People who follow micro influencers genuinely have a strong keen interest in the influencer’s respected niche. They do not follow a micro influencer’s account to keep up with the Kardashians or to feed their FOMOs (Fear of Missing Out). They follow them because they grew to trust them and find their content quite engaging. That is why micro influencers drive 3x the engagement compared to social celebrities. Kim Kardashian may have nearly 100 million followers on Instagram, but she has a 0.001 percent level of engagement.
For Millennials, it’s about trust. As a result, these followers remain loyal and responsive.
We go beyond identifying influencers through hashtags, profile descriptions, follower count and captions by using machine learning and artificial intelligence. Usually, sponsored posts hashtagged with #ad or #sp drop 15 to 30 percent in engagement.
However, when we verify the influencers can engage the right audience of the right size to realize campaign goals, Millennials will gravitate towards posts with #ad or #sponsored. When the influencers are perfectly paired with brands that have demographic relevance, semantic relevance and contextual relevance the influencers’ sponsored posts usually outperform their native content.
The Sales Lion | President
Everything you mentioned in the bullet points pretty much applies to all buyers at this point.
To me, it’s not about millennials. It’s about humans and trust.
I believe we need to stop focusing on “millennials” and get back to the basics of how we as humans in a digital world have changed, and what we expect because of it.
The Friedman Group | President
In my experience, these findings are spot on! Millennials dislike product-centric marketing campaigns because they appear inauthentic and lazy. Millennials value educational content with minimal product or company mentions. Marketing must prove itself to a millennial through thoughtful education and expertise (content exploring strategy development or tactical implementation) if it wants to make any impact on the purchase decision. Millennials only want to talk to a sales rep after thoroughly researching a solution.
I don’t believe it is only Millennials who demonstrate this mindset. Many many others are in this boat. This data really makes a strong case for the need to have a very well thought out inbound marketing strategy. It’s important now, more than ever, for brands to meet their prospects where they are. Provide them with the content they need in order to make an educated decision. Don’t sell. Educate. Help Millennials and others proceed through the “Buyer’s Journey.” This is what inbound marketers have been preaching for years.
Stagg Digital | Digital Brand Marketer
My experience confirms the findings of this research. One of the primary ways to engage with Millenials is with messaging that is thought-provoking and authentic. They have little to no tolerance for salacious, fluffy headlines. As this study found, educational content must be thoughtfully presented — but it must also go well beyond the basics:
There is little that Milennials can’t learn on their own, and it is a marketer’s responsibility to point out facts and information that are highly interesting that cannot easily be found elsewhere. The more interesting the insight, the more likely they’ll share it on social media — and convert.
I will also add that, whenever possible, it’s best to tie messaging back to helping the world at large: If a Milennial finds information, products or services that are helpful to them personally and adds to the world in some way, it can mean the difference between a one-time purchase and a long-term brand loyalist.
NewPoint Media Group | Digital & Social Media Manager
I think as millenials, we want options that are quick and convenient. I’m all about educational content, especially being in the field of digital marketing. If you can provide me with a tool or educational video that will show me how you can cut down on wasted time and increase my productivity, I’m all about it. With that being said, I don’t have to do a lot of research before purchasing a product.
I focus heavily on reviews from others. Regarding sales reps, I’ll listen to a pitch without knowing much about a product, but I’m a lot less likely to do anything with that pitch because of the lack of a relationship.
I think the driving force behind thinking this way is because we have so many options in today’s world. We don’t like product-centric campaigns, because it’s a blatant sales tactic. Instead, I think millenials are looking for connections in terms of what a marketing campaign does emotionally or practically. If it makes me feel good or if I see a genuine use in my every-day life for the product, I’m more likely to look at it.
Platform.ly | SaaS Marketer
Millennials make a huge and vastly diverse generation. While it is very appealing to categorize them as a generation that is selfie-obsessed and unaccountable, it can backfire as it is principally inaccurate.
The reality is Millennials are one step ahead of their previous generation when it comes to exposure and consumption of information. It is because as they grew up with the internet.
Now, coming to the findings of the study
1) Millennials dislike product-centric marketing campaigns because they appear inauthentic and lazy.
I agree that Millennials dislike product-centric marketing campaigns, but not because they appear inauthentic and lazy. The main reason Millennials dislike product-centric marketing campaigns is – they lack PERSONALITY. And, because of it, they fail to strike a connection with the audience.
The world of marketing has evolved from communication to conversation. And, if a brand fails to make a connection, it simply can’t have a conversation with its audience. This is where customer-centric marketing comes in handy.
2) Millennials value educational content with a minimal product or company mentions.
Couldn’t agree more with it. To prove itself to Millennials, Content Strategy needs to have a good mix of Design, Ingenuity, Personality, and User-centric approach. These four pillars are the pillars of a content strategy that can help brands stand out in the eyes of millennials.
3) Marketing must prove itself to a millennial through thoughtful education and expertise (content exploring strategy development or tactical implementation) if it wants to make any impact on the purchase decision.
Not just thoughtful education and expertise, I’d say brands need to focus on the principle of reciprocity as well. Millennials like to have a two-way communication with the brands they interact. So, even if a brand has thoughtful education and expertise, but misses on the reciprocity, it is going to have a hard time in making any impact on the purchase decision of its potential buyers.
4) Millennials only want to talk to a sales rep after thoroughly researching a solution.
I would take it with a pinch of salt and would agree to disagree. My reason for this is – as the concept of “Shared Economy” taking over the brand world, many close-knitted communities have come into existence. Because of these communities and beyond borders connections, one doesn’t need to research a solution every single time thoroughly. One single question thread and you get all the information about a solution, that too coming from actual end users.
This is mainly applicable to niches that are either extremely new or overly saturated. We have experienced this for our product SERPed (which is in an overly saturated Niche – SEO tools).
Lightspan Digital | President
In the late 1880 Marshall Field built a retail empire under the mottos, “give the lady what she wants,” and “the customer is always right.” So we shouldn’t be surprised customers-centric marketing, giving customers what they want and not what “we” (the brands) want, is still… trending… over 130 years later.
Audiences still want to be given what they want. It has nothing to do with “millennials.” I may have to do with a really old dude named Marshall Field. The reality is that not much has changed, except mediums and canvases. People go online to fulfill specific needs. Typically, they want to be entertained, make themselves feel better (or look good), and/or find answers to specific questions or needs they have right there and then.
Product-centric marketing doesn’t fulfill any of those needs. Effective marketing will teach, help make decisions, or make audiences go, “I knew this but you said it so much better!” And really good marketing is able to also entertain while delivering help. Take a look at Foothills: The Unlinked Heritage of Snowboarding. Is it a documentary? Or is it a brand video? Or is it both? I’ll let you, the reader, decide.
Branch | Co-Founder
The study conducted by Heinz is very accurate in describing Millennials. In our experience, aggressive sales strategies and product marketing do not succeed. Instead, millennials want to make their own informed decision when purchasing a product or service. I believe this trend to be caused by the independent nature of the millennial generation – with information at their finger tips, they do not have to rely on a salesperson to inform them of a product, they prefer searching themselves and finding all the information they need to make an informed decision.
While the Millennial generation does have a sense of independence, they rely heavily on each other for information. Studies have shown they millennials trust each other for information than any other channel, which makes features like sharing and invites and marketing techniques on social necessary for promoting your product.
Lauren Fonvielle | Marketer | Copywriter | Editor
I definitely have to agree with your findings on millennial buying behaviors. In my experience, I’ve found that millennials like to be very well informed on the products that they purchase. They regularly read e-books, white papers, blogs, and watch videos. They fully appreciate when companies provide informative content and are more apt to trust and respect the company as a result.
When shopping, millennials often seek out the opinion of others. This includes both those they know in person, as well as reviews they read online. They trust these relevant and authentic reviews, which often times directly impacts whether or not they make a purchase.
All successful companies know that millennials love the experience of shopping – perusing the merchandise, pinning items on Pinterest, viewing how others have used the product, and simply having fun throughout the buying process. Authentic messaging and interactions are what millennials crave every step of the way.
Light Up Nashville | Content Marketer
These findings do align with our experiences marketing to millennials. Because of this we have recently shifted our focus to content based marketing (inbound marketing). Millennials grew up in a world full of product placement and advertising, and have become experts in ignoring it. They are used to researching information themselves, and seek authenticity and expertise in subject matters they are not familiar with.
To engage millennials, we must present ourselves as knowledge bases and as an authority they can trust and rely on when they are ready to make their decision.
Mod Girl Marketing | Founder and CEO
Marketing to millennials isn’t all that different from marketing to other age groups. They want authentic, honest, useful messaging – just like everyone else.
As people gain more access to information through social media, online reviews, blogs, and more, they are holding brands to a higher standard. It’s up to us to produce marketing campaigns and products that meet that standard.