The Acquity Group recently reported the findings of its 2013 State of B2B Procurement Study. The new data reveals a significant change in B2B buying/purchasing/procurement behavior. This data is a game changer for B2B marketing and sales.
Surprising data is a game changer for B2B companies
Acquity surveyed 207 business buyers with responsibility for purchases of $100,000 or more per year. They analyzed buyer behavior by age group and discovered that younger buyers are making more purchases online.
|Younger Buyers Shop More Online|
|Buyer Age||% Making Company Purchases Online|
|Source: Acquity Group, June 2013|
At least once every week we hear a business owner or executive say something like, “Our customers don’t buy or research purchases online.” Maybe they did not make online purchases in the past, but this study makes it clear that the situation has changed. This data indicates that a simple brochure-style website is no longer sufficient online presence for businesses.
Another argument we hear frequently is, “Our sales team provides information and other educational materials to our clients/customers and prospects.” On this point, the Acquity Group study says, “Think again.” The study found that older buyers are less likely to research purchases in depth than younger buyers.
- Buyers over age of 60 claimed to research before purchasing less than 10% of the time; Buyers 26-45 researched before purchasing 50% of the time or more
- Buyers under 60 spend one to two hours researching purchases of $5,000 or more; buyers over 60 spend 30 minutes or less on research
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Are you serious? This is a big change!
Across all age groups, the study also found that 70 percent of surveyed buyers indicated they would purchase more electronically if it was easier to access product information from the supplier’s website. In fact, this study indicated that many companies are losing the added margin of direct sales because it is more difficult to research, shop and buy from distributors and retailers (such as Amazon supply).
Clearly, a sea change is occurring. Companies that sell to other companies might be losing sales to their competitors because they choose to ignore emerging patterns of purchase research that rely upon the corporate website and other digital assets for product information. If the pattern continues, B2B companies that persist in burying their heads in the sand will be forced to watch their sales migrate to other companies that are responding to this behavioral change.
Companies that have not adapted to changing buyer expectations and behaviors need to address the following connected marketing strategies:
- Build a robust website that is easy to navigate, provides all information needed by customers for research, and makes it easy for customers to purchase electronically.
- Build a social media presence on the platforms used by your customers, and use it to listen to your customers, build relationships with them, answer questions, handle customer service issues, and build loyalty.
- Launch a content marketing plan that will create the right content for all appropriate online channels to attract, inform, instruct nurture, and sell your products to customers.
The data revealed by this Acquity Group survey is a clear game changer for all B2B companies. Not only are younger buyers purchasing more electronically, they are researching more online, making decisions based on this research, and buying from the source that makes the transaction easiest and least time-consuming. If your firm has been stuck in the past or has chosen to bury your collective heads in the sand, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee!