Numerous research studies have shown that millennials are now playing pivotal roles in B2B purchase decisions. Many marketing industry pundits contend that millennial buyers have distinctive characteristics that require a different approach to marketing and sales.
But many claims about the attributes of millennials are gross oversimplifications of reality. In a 2017 report, the global research firm Ipsos MORI wrote, "Myths and misunderstandings [about millennials] abound, with bad research jumping to general conclusions based on shallow caricatures . . ."
A research report published last November by The B2B Institute and GWI provides a detailed and nuanced view of millennial attitudes and behaviors. Work in BETA: The Rising B2B Decision Makers ("Work in BETA") was based on surveys of business professionals between the ages of 21 and 64 in ten countries. The report focuses primarily on the attitudes and behaviors of survey respondents between the ages of 21 and 40.
The Work in BETA research produced several insights that have significant implications for B2B marketers. One important group of findings relates to the attitudes of millennial business professionals toward innovation and risk.
The Desire to be Innovative - The Need to Feel Safe
Millennials value innovation highly, and they are also keen to enhance their professional status. These two aspects of the millennial mindset are both evident in the findings of the Work in BETA surveys, and they create a tension that is manifested in how millennials make business decisions.
For example, the surveys asked participants what types of improvement initiatives were important for their company to implement in the coming year. Improving efficiency and productivity, and finding cost savings were the most frequently identified initiatives by respondents of all ages. However, millennial business professionals were far more likely that older survey respondents to identify improving innovation as an important initiative.
Millennials also want to be trendsetters, and they want to be sure they are keeping up with peers and competitors. In the Work in BETA surveys, millennial respondents were more likely than older respondents to agree that "I always like to try new products" and "Having the latest technological products is very important to me."
When survey participants were asked about the reasons that might lead them to consider bringing a new product or service into their company, millennial respondents were more likely than older respondents to say:
- To keep up with the latest trends
- Because a competitor is using it
- Recommendations from experts in my network (53%)
- User reviews (51%)
- Recommendations from industry analysts (50%)