For the state of B2B purchasing, the numbers tell the story: Young buyers direct most purchasing activity, and they prefer that activity in digital form.

In a study last year based on a survey of nearly 14,000 B2B buyers, Forrester Research found that young buyers far more than their older peers preferred digital and self-service purchasing methods over traditional in-person options compared.

Among B2B buyers, those born in 1981 or later “now hold the keys to decision-making for the majority of purchases,” Forrester says. It defines as young buyers millennials and the Gen Z generation, or those born between 1981 and 1994, and older buyers as Baby Boomers and Gen X, those born between 1946 and 1980.

Hassle-free digital interactions and purchases are important to younger B2B buyers

According to Forrester’s Buyers’ Journey Survey in 2022:

  • Younger buyers start with sources not controlled by the vendor, citing “technology information websites” as their most impactful interaction type. Older buyers rated “vendor sales in person” as most impactful.
  • Dissatisfaction is more prevalent in younger buyers. 90% are unhappy with the vendor in at least one area, compared to 71% of older buyers.
  • A smooth purchase process is more important to younger buyers, with 14% citing dissatisfaction with the purchase experience, compared to 8% of older buyers.

Younger buyers use digital channels more

Millennial and Generation Z buyers are much more digital in their channel usage than their older counterparts. For example, 35% of younger buyers say they will use an enterprise app to make corporate purchases. 19% of millennial and Generation Z buyers prefer placing orders with an inside sales representative. That compares with 24% of older B2B buyers.


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