The last time we talked about Millennial purchasing power was in 2019… pre-pandemic, pre-recession, pre-Russian invasion of Ukraine, and pre-administration change. To say the world has changed in dramatic ways may not be a dramatic enough statement to encompass all the ways that culture, economics, and foreign relations have radically transformed in the last three years. But few people feel such change so much as in their pocketbooks.
And the generation that will be shouldering the economic recovery of this recession? You guessed it: Millennials. So where does Millennial B2B purchasing power stand? While many are struggling on a personal level, their purchasing power as B2B buyers has also changed.
2019 Millennial Purchasing Power
In 2019, as Millennials gained purchasing power both as B2C consumers and B2B buyers, their personal values, like sustainability, blended into their business purchases. And integrating technology seamlessly with workflows was a tried-and-true way of reaching the digital native.
So how did businesses attract the Millennial B2B buyer? Companies that supported those ideals that Millennials value, focused on emotional appeals, fostered a personal connection between salespeople and millennial buyers, built trust and commitment through delightful customer service interactions, and used technology to attract and retain Millennial buyers fared better.
Millennial B2B Purchasing Power in 2022
In 2020, Millennials surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest living adult generation and in 2022 they’re the largest B2B purchasing group. The ideals and practices Millennials value, as discussed above, are still true today. In particular, the preference for digital and mobile purchasing.
The Digital Space & Personal Branding
The digital space is primary place where Millennial buyers will discover products and compare pricing, often before even speaking with a sales representative. In fact, more buyers are using video and voice search than ever before. Businesses should ensure that those factors which set them apart from other brands are clearly and consistently communicated across all digital platforms.
A strategy gaining traction amongst many B2B salespeople is to grow their personal brands on social media. By posturing themselves as industry experts, salespeople build trust amongst their connections and followers, which then contributes to a lead’s buyer journey.
But with the state of the world, there’s more than just social media to consider.
The Economy’s Impact on Millennial B2B Purchasing Power
The current economic situation means that management and C-suite-level Millennials must balance long-term economic strategy with the bold business decisions needed to get ahead in many industries. But with prices on the rise, sourcing materials and maintaining facilities is more expensive than ever before.
The rocky labor market isn’t making things any easier, either. Millennials have more influence over hiring decisions, with 62% of them saying they manage direct reports. Now, Millennial managers must not only consider what they buy for their business, but also how much they spend on their workforce.
Economists predict that the market will continue trending downward, at least for the foreseeable future. So how can businesses harness Millennial purchasing power in these rocky economic times?
Patience (and Flexibility) is a Virtue
While Millennials certainly still value many of the same ideals as they did in 2019, they also have human capital considerations to manage as well. And since the economy—and the world politics which affect it—are unpredictable, being patient with Millennial B2B buyers is more important than ever.
It’s doubtful that many buyers will make rushed decisions in this economy, especially on products or services that are new to them. Salespeople must be willing to grow a personal connection with the buyer, build trust, and consistently communicate the value of their product or service to the buyer. If sales wasn’t a long game before, it certainly is now.
Millennials also need customer service representatives and salespeople who are adaptable to rapidly changing needs. The ability to pivot at a moment’s notice, whether that be because of workforce changes, material shortages, or some other unforeseen roadblock, is paramount. Having a robust picture of your client’s business and their needs may help predict some of those challenges.
In addition to all the values that Millennial buyers held in 2019, they now have even more to consider when making purchasing decisions. Salespeople and customer service reps need to keep these values in mind, but also be flexible and patient with buyers as they juggle labor shortages and a flailing economy.